“These swirled buns are my twist on a manoushe (manaqish when plural), a traditional Levantine morning flatbread that is topped with olive oil and za’atar. They are one of my favourite breakfasts. If I am fasting I will eat them straight up or with a plate of crunchy radishes, cucumbers and olives on the side. When I am not fasting, I might add some labneh, to dip the buns in. You can use a shop-bought za’atar mix, but it is very easy to make your own. ”
Add the sugar and yeast to a jug and whisk in 275ml of warm water then leave to one side for a couple of minutes. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and whisk in the salt, then make a well in the centre. Mix in the yeast water and 25ml of the extra virgin olive oil until well combined – add more water if needed; you want a moist dough, it shouldn’t be too dry. Transfer the dough to a flour-dusted surface and knead for around 8–10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Wash and dry the mixing bowl, then lightly oil it. Return it to the bowl, drizzle with a little more oil and leave to prove for around 1–1 ½ hours (this will depend on how warm your kitchen is), until doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a clean surface, knock it back and roll into a rectangle about 26 x 40cm. Brush over a layer of olive oil and evenly sprinkle over the za’atar and pul biber, leaving a 1cm border around the edges. Pat the spice mixture gently into the dough with the back of a tablespoon. Starting with a short side, roll the dough up as tightly as you can. Trim off the uneven excess bits at the end. Slice the dough into 9 pieces. Pour enough oil to just cover the base of a 23cm square cake tin and pop in the slices, swirl facing up. Cover and leave to one side for a second prove to double in size, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6. When the buns have roughly doubled in size, bake for 25–30 minutes, until golden. As soon as they come out of the oven, drizzle over the remaining olive oil and leave to absorb in the tin for 10 minutes before serving.