We make these filled vegan breads a lot and serve them at weddings, festivals and fairs, they can be served warm or at room temperature.
It sounds tricky stuffing filling into bread dough, but it’s arguably easier than working with pastry – the bread dough is more forgiving – so don’t be put off.
Fatayer are from the Middle East and have a tangy and slightly fruity flavour which works really well with the vegan cheese and spinach. These ones are based on a recipe by Ottolenghi.
10 ½ oz (300g) strong white bread flour
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon easy bake yeast
5½ floz (165) ml water
1½ floz (40 ml) soya or oat milk
1½ floz (40 ml) rapeseed or sunflower oil
200g spinach – fresh, frozen (defrosted) or tinned
1½ tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
½ tsp salt
1 tsp sumac
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts, chopped
80g smoky or strong vegan cheese, grated
1. Mix the bread flour, salt and yeast together. Mix the milk, water and oil together and stir into the flour mix to form a dough. Knead for five to ten minutes or until the dough is smooth and silky.
2. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave until it has doubled in volume. If you leave it in a warm place it will take about 45 minutes. If you can’t find a warm place it will take longer, depending how warm your house is, probably 2-3 hours.
3a. If using fresh spinach, chop it and put in a bowl with the salt. Work it together with your hands. Set aside for 15 minutes, squeeze out as much water as you can, then transfer to a clean bowl.
3b. If using frozen or tinned spinach, put in a sieve to remove the water and squeeze out as much water as you can.
4. Fry the chopped onions in the oil until soft, about ten minutes. Allow to cool at little and add to the spinach with the rest of the filling ingredients, including the salt if you haven’t added it yet. Mix well – you’ll probably need to use your hands.
5. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.
6. Ottolenghi says: “Use a sharp knife to divide the dough into 12 small portions, roughly 40g each.* Then dust a work surface with flour and roll each portion into a round about 0.5cm thick and 10cm in diameter. Stretch them, like a pizza, to make them thin enough. Place one and a half tablespoons of the filling in the centre of each circle.
7. Think of each disc as having three equal sides. Lift two sides and pinch together halfway down, to make a thin, raised joint, then lift the third side and pinch it to the loose edges – you should now have a rough triangle with a Y-shaped seam at the top. Emphasise the seam by pinching and lifting it upwards.”
8. Transfer to an oiled baking tray, spacing the fatayer 1-2cm apart. Leave to rise for half an hour. Brush with olive oil, if you wish, then bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes twelve.
Making in advance – make the breads as usual, but bake for ten minutes only, and cool. Freeze in sealed tupperware or freezer bags. Fully defrost in the fridge and then bake for another ten minutes or until golden brown. Eat the same day.