Technique: How to roll dough for fatayar, spinach pies
Like talami dough, the dough for fatayar is different than standard bread dough. This dough is not nearly as wet as talami dough, but it is a sticky dough that takes just one rise (typically bread-baking is a two-rise process).
The sticky factor is key in encouraging the little bundles, which are pinched closed, to keep from opening up.
I’m diverging in technique here from what I learned growing up and from what is still done by many a Lebanese cook. They make little balls out of the risen dough and then roll out each of those to form the round that will be stuffed with spinach. It’s difficult, though, to get the dough thin enough and sticky enough this way.
Instead, we’re going to roll out the dough and cut out circles using a 4” round cutter. I use the top of a canister because of all of the round cutters I have, none are the right size. To roll the dough, use a dry work surface. There is no flour used in the rolling process. With a heavy rolling pin, roll the dough out away from and toward you a few times. Then lift the dough gently off the counter (it’s very droopy) and turn it 45 degrees. Again roll away from and toward you, working the dough out as thin as possible, less than 1/8”.
To prevent the dough from shrinking after it’s been cut, lift the dough gently off the work surface and lay it back down, in sections because it would be difficult to lift the whole sheet up at once. Then cut out as many circles as possible. Combine the scraps, knead them together, wrap with plastic and set aside to rest until you are ready to roll again.
Now your dough is ready to stuff and close. I wish I could say the rest of it is easy like a Sunday morning, but I’ve gotta tell you, I’ve been a fatayar-making machine trying to find the simplest, most successful method with a delicious result for all of us, and in the process I discovered swear words I didn’t know I had in me. Here’s where I landed.
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