Dynamite Sourdough Lahmacun
Why sourdough lahmacun works so well
Lahmacun is an amazing recipe when the dough is made with baker's yeast. But, something magical happens when you make this with sourdough. During the baking, the flavours from the spicy lamb and vegetable mixture work their way into the sourdough flatbread, creating a melting pot of flavours.
If you have a little pot of sourdough starter bubbling away then this is a recipe you should try. It’s a great recipe for beginners, as there is no complicated shaping involved. The dough is rolled out flat with a rolling pin, and to be fair, even if you create some weird and wonderful shape during rolling, the taste will be just as good!
I never really know what style or group lahmacun belongs to. It’s not pizza, if anything I’d say it’s superior to pizza on many levels. Is it true street food, or more of fast food? I don’t think it’s either as it has an artisanal quality.
You know what, you should make it and decide for yourself. This little dish won't let you down and it’s great fun to make.
Fitting it into your day
This recipe lends itself perfectly to using a no-knead sourdough for the base of the Lahmacun. The easiest way to schedule this is to prepare the sourdough, shape it and leave it in the fridge overnight to finish fermenting.
The next day the dough can be taken directly from the fridge and rolled while it’s cold. So you can be flexible when you bake the lahmacun. The topping can also be prepared a day in advance.
The dough will be fermenting for a long time so it has plenty of time to build strength all on its own. As the dough is going to be rolled out like a thin pizza we don’t need to worry about the dough being strong enough to support itself. If you prefer to add some stretching and folding then do so, it won't be a problem.
The dough is 70% hydrated and when coupled with strong flour makes the dough easy to handle. I roll the dough while it’s cold so it’s nice to handle.
This recipe produces 600 grams of dough and I use 150 grams of dough for each Lahmacun. If you want to adjust the hydration or the amount of dough you are making then you can use my sourdough calculator. It’s a free download and you can access it by clicking here.
The recipe is versatile
I’ve eaten lahmacun in quite a few different places and the recipe for the toppings seems to change from store to store.
I’ve created this recipe by blending the ingredients I've enjoyed when I’ve tried different lahmacuns. Try experimenting with different ingredients, especially if you find some of them difficult to source.
I can’t find minced lamb easily so I chop lamb shoulder finely with a knife. The texture is different, but that’s not to say, it’s not as good as minced lamb. Although I would be the first to admit that buying minced lamb is easier!
I use a homemade tomato and chilli and paste in this recipe but if you don’t have any you can easily substitute it with something else. I have seen this recipe made with store-bought spicy pepper paste and/or freshly grated tomatoes.
I use Turkish chill flakes but you can use another type, the spiciness might change but that's not always a bad thing! I also use sumac to season the red onions for garnishing the flatbreads, if you don’t have sumac you can leave it out but try buying it if you can.
Consistency of the topping
Some recipes call for the vegetables to be blended well and drained to get rid of any excess moisture. I prefer not to over blend and retain the moisture in the vegetables as it produces a more succulent topping when baked. This is down to personal preference and you can experiment with both methods to see what works best for your taste.
I use a preheated baking steel placed towards the top of the oven to bake the lahmacun. You could also use a pizza stone. If you have either of these you can follow my instructions in the recipe.
If you don't have a baking stone or steel, there are a few other options. You can pre-heat a heavy-bottomed cast iron or non-stick pan and bake the lahmacun on that. You could bake the lahmacun on the oven shelf but remember that the baking time may take a little longer and you are unlikely to get a charred base. But it will still taste great.
Lastly, I use a pizza peel to transfer the lahmacun to the oven. If you don’t have one, you could roll the base out to the right size and place it on non-stick baking paper, after adding the topping the base will be easier to move. In one of my sourdough videos I made a quick peel by cutting up a cardboard box, there are many inventive and creative solutions.
Kitchen temperature: 18c / 65f
Oven temperature: 250c / 480f,
Oven setup: Baking steel placed on the shelf towards the top of the oven
Bake time: 8 minutes
310g strong bread flour
80g starter (Fully active and 100% hydrated)
Lahmacun Topping (for 600g of dough, 4x 150g portions)
1 medium white onion
3 large cloves of garlic
1 medium red pepper
1 small green pepper (slightly spicy)
2 handfuls of flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon of spicy pepper paste
350 grams of minced lamb shoulder
Turkish chilli flakes to taste
Lots of lemon wedges
Finely sliced red onion seasoned with sumac
2 handfuls of flat-leaf parsley (washed and whole)
Mixing the dough
1. Add the water to a mixing bowl along with 80 grams of active bubbly sourdough starter. With a spoon stir the starter into the water to roughly dissolve. It doesn't need to be completely dissolved as the starter will break down during the fermentation process.
If you want to achieve a smooth texture you can add 80 grams of the flour at this stage and mix well with a spoon. The flour will help to create a smoother consistency.
2. Add the salt and stir again for a minute. Add the flour and bring everything together into a rough dough. Wet your hand and continue to bring the dough together.
The dough doesn't need to be smooth at this stage, the goal is to combine the ingredients well and make sure there are no dry spots of flour.
3. Cover the dough in the bowl and leave it out at room temperature for 20-30 minutes to allow the flour to hydrate. This will make the dough easier to handle.
4. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and knead for a couple of minutes to make sure the dough is smooth. The dough will be rolled out before baking so we don’t need to build lots of strength by kneading or stretching and folding.
5. When you have finished kneading shape the dough into a ball and place it back into the bowl. Cover and leave out at room temperature to bulk ferment.
6. The dough takes six hours at room temperature, remember that your bulk ferment times will depend on your room temperature and the strength of your fermentation. Turn the dough out on the work surface and divide it into four equal pieces.
Shape the dough into balls and place in individual plastic containers that have been rubbed with olive oil. Cover with lids and leave them out at room temperature for two hours to begin the final fermentation. After two hours place the containers into the fridge overnight.
Preparing the topping
7. Blend the red and green pepper, the white onion and the garlic in a food processer (I prefer to chop the parsley by hand but you can add it to the processor if you prefer).
Try not to over-process the vegetables as they will turn mushy and lose their water. I think it's important to retain as much water in the vegetables as possible so that the lahmacun isn’t dry.
8. Add the processed vegetables to a bowl, add one tablespoon of pepper paste, season with salt, pepper and Turkish chilli flakes. Taste the mixture to check the seasoning. I prefer to slightly over-season at this point so that it balances out when I add the minced lamb.
9. If you didn't add your parsley to the food processor it’s time to finely chop it now. Add the parsley and minced lamb to the bowl with the vegetable and stir well to combine. Don’t be afraid to get your hands involved. Refrigerate until needed.
Preparing the lahmacun & baking
10. Take a piece of dough from the fridge, I prefer to roll the dough while it’s cold. Dust your work surface with flour and roll the dough out into a round or oval shape. Make sure the dough is nice and thin, 3-5 mm thick.
11. Make sure to flour the work surface under the dough. Place the lahmacun mixture on top and push it down into the dough quite firmly, but be careful not to tear or break the dough. I prefer pushing the topping to the edge, this will restrict the amount of puff you get. If you prefer you can leave a bigger crust area and your edges should puff up a little during baking. Experiment and see what you prefer.
12. Slide the dough onto a peel and transfer it to a baking stone or steel that has been pre-heated in the oven to 250c or 480f.
13. My lahmacun took exactly 8 minutes to cook in my oven. Your bake time may vary depending on your oven and oven set up.
Keep checking the lahmacun while it bakes. Try and strike a balance where the crust and base are nicely coloured but the mixture hasn't dried out too much on the top.
14. Remove from the oven and garnish with more parsley (whole leaves), finely sliced red onions seasoned with sumac and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
You can roll this up, or eat it like a pizza, either way, it tastes great!
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You can watch the full lahmacun tutorial here
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