For the sponge:
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tbs fast active dry yeast
- 2 tbs honey
- 2 cups Luke warm water
For the dough:
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tbs plain yogurt
- 1 cup Za’atar
- 1/2 cup olive oil mixed together
For egg wash
- 1 egg yolk
- Drop of white vinegar
- 1 tsp water mixed together
1. For the levant, in a big bowl, mix together the 2 cups of all purpose flour, yeast, honey and water until combined. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
2. When sponge is ready, In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the sponge mixture, 3 cups of all purpose flour, olive oil, salt and yogurt at medium speed until a soft smooth dough forms and the dough pulls away form the sides of the mixing bowl about 5 minutes. (You can do this by hand, as well)
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes. Divide it into two equal parts. Pat out each part into a rough rectangle shape. You can divide the dough into four equal rectangles, if you want to make two loaves of bread.
4. Take one of the rectangles of dough and roll it out into a roughly 24 x 8-inch rectangle. Spread it with 1/2 of the za’atar /olive oil mixture, then roll it up along the longest edge as you would if you were making cinnamon rolls. Repeat the same procedure with the other rectangle of the dough.
5. Take one of the cylinders and roll it on a flat clean working surface, lengthening it with your hands until the cylinder reaches about 34 inches in length. Cut it in half legnthwise and set the two long strips aside. Repeat with the other cylinder.
6. To form the bread, see pictures.
7. Cover with a plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 1 hour or until double in size.
8. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
9. Lightly brush the bread with the egg wash and bake it in the middle rack of the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove it, cover lightly with foil, and bake another 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more, uncovered, until the exterior of the bread is deeply golden and a thermometer inserted into the bread reads at least 190F.