One of Israel’s most famous dishes is shakshuka, a humble meal of eggs poached in an abundance of sautéed tomatoes and onions. Like hummus, shakshuka (which is North African in origin) is an assemblage of ingredients common to many cultures that has been adopted by cooks because of its low cost and pure tastiness. Here, Uri Scheft, owner of Breads Bakery in New York City and author of Breaking Breads, uses a round of no-knead focaccia bread as a plate, topping it with matbucha (tomatoes, onion, and garlic cooked until quite thick) and cracking the egg right into the center. There you have it, shakshuka focaccia. Start the oven very hot; it will lose a bit of heat when you open the door to add the egg. If you start it at 500°F, it will still be around 475°F by the time you shut the door. For a soft and runny yolk, serve the focaccia immediately, because as it cools, the yolk will harden.
Matbucha is a simple tomato sauce made by slowly cooking tomatoes, chiles, and garlic down until the mixture reaches a jam-like consistency. It is excellent as a salad or a condiment or used as the base for shakshuka with eggs for breakfast. If you are using out-of-season tomatoes, consider adding a teaspoon of sugar to enhance their flavor.
1 recipe No-Knead Focaccia Dough (see recipe below)
Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
2 cups Matbucha (see recipe below)
¼ cup sesame seeds or nigella seeds
6 large eggs
Fine salt, as needed
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
3 cups cool room-temperature water
1 ¼ tablespoons fresh yeast, or ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
6 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (or “00” pizza flour) plus extra for dusting and kneading
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons fine salt
Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
Fresh oregano, finely chopped, as needed
Sesame seeds, as needed
Coarse salt, as needed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, slivered
1 or 2 jalapeño or serrano chiles, quartered lengthwise; seeded if desired for less heat
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar (if needed)
How to Make It
Stretch and divide the dough. Heavily flour your work surface. Use a plastic dough scraper to lift and transfer the dough to the floured surface, and flour the top of the dough (don’t be stingy with the flour!). Gently lift, pull, and stretch the dough into a 14-by-8-inch rectangle. Use a bench scraper to divide the dough in half lengthwise so you have two long strips, and then divide the strips into three pieces each for a total of six pieces. Fold the four corners of each piece of dough up and onto the center, creating a round shape; then flip the dough over.
Pour the water into a large bowl. If you are using fresh yeast, crumble the yeast into the water and whisk until it is completely dissolved. Since there is no kneading, it’s very important that the yeast be completely dissolved. If you are using active dry yeast, mix the yeast into the flour. Then, in this order, add the flour, sugar, and salt to the water in the bowl. Use your hand to swirl the ingredients together; then use a plastic dough scraper to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Continue to mix the dough by hand in the bowl (it’s very sticky, so you’re really just scooping it away from the sides of the bowl with a cupped hand and folding it on top of itself) until there aren’t any clumps, about 1 minute. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside at room temperature until the dough has relaxed into the bowl and risen slightly (not a lot happens visually in this stage), about 30 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set it aside.
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