Khafush, Yemenite or Yemeni Bread

by Leah Hadad on October 17, 2014

Khafush is a yemeni bread that's easy to make Khafush, Yemeni Bread

Khafush, Yemenite or Yemeni Bread
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Is Khafush Yemeni or Yemenite bread? It’s both or neither depending on whom you ask. Whether you call yourself Yemeni or Yemenite depends on your religion. Jews from Yemen usually refer to themselves as Yemenites, while Muslims use Yemeni to describe their nationality. However, Adanis claim Khafush as their bread. As such, the bread is neither Yemenite nor Yemeni, but Adani. Adanis did not consider themselves part of Yemen until Aden became the capital of South Yemen. Well, it’s complicated… I learned about Khafush from my late mother, who was born in Rada’a, Yemen. My mother passed away this summer, and baking Khafush for World Bread Day 2014 allows me to explore and reconnect to her Yemeni Jewish baking traditions. Many bake Khafush these days with commercial yeast. Traditionally it was baked using khamira, a wild yeast starter. I decided to create a starter for baking this bread. The starter took longer than I expected to establish, so I first used active dry yeast to bake my first Khafush. My first attempt to bake this bread with the established starter was unsuccessful. The bread did not rise much and I ended up with a dense loaf. Few days later, the starter became much more active after I fed it with whole-wheat flour. I used twenty-percent starter to bake the bread. It rose nicely, but I would have liked the crumb to be a bit lighter. It still tasted good and I am sorry I won’t be able to share it with my mother. I added haba sowda, or black seed (nigella sativa), to the dough, as is the custom. Also known as haba al-baraka (seed of blessing), the seed has many healthful properties. It is also traditional to add chopped raw onion, spreading some of it on the bottom of the pot and incorporating the rest into the dough. The bread is quite good with yeast. But I plan to practice more baking it with a starter. Here is the recipe with yeast as I am not ready to give precise instructions for the starter version. Enjoy!
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: Yemen
Serves: 1 loaf
  • 4 cups (500 g) sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp. (28-30g) active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp (10 g) salt
  • 1-½ cup warm water (110° - 115° F)
  • 1 Tbsp. nigella sativa seeds
  • ½ small onion, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. all purpose flour
  1. Scoop four cups of flour and sift, measure four cups of sifted flour by spooning onto a measuring cup and leveling with a knife or spatula. Place flour in a bowl of a stand mixer, create a well in the center, pour sugar and mix a bit with the flour, pour the yeast and one half cup of the warm water and let stand for 5 minutes to activate.
  2. Add salt and oil and mix on low with the hook attachment, adding another one cup of water gradually. Mix for 10 minutes. Add the seeds after 8 minutes of mixing. You should see strands of dough stretching from the sides of the bowl to the hook attachment while mixing, leaving a smear of dough on the sides of the bowl. If the dough is dry, add water by the teaspoon, as necessary. The dough should be soft, a bit sticky, but should easily separate from your fingers. With wet hands, lift the dough, tuck the edges under and gather it into a smooth ball and place back in the bowl. With wet hands pat and smooth the dough, place in a warm, draft free area and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
  3. Wet your hand and deflate the dough by working it into a smooth ball while in the bowl. Pat with water, cover and let it rest until doubled in bulk, about 20 min.
  4. Flour about a ten-inch diameter of your board with two tablespoons flour. Sprinkle two tablespoons of flour on the bottom of a cast iron pot. With wet hands lift the dough out of the bowl, tuck edges under, place the ball face down on the board and flatten with the palms of your hands. Sprinkle half the chopped onion on top of the dough, and lift and bring the edges to center and over the onion. Sprinkle the rest of the onion on the bottom of the pot. For a soft crust, place the dough smooth side up in the pot, place the in the cold oven, turn the temperature dial to 350°/180° and bake for 50 - 60 minutes. For a crunchy crust, preheat the oven to 500° F/260° C, bake for 10 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350° F/180° C and continue to bake for another 30 minutes. Let cool on a rack for about 10 minutes and release carefully from the pot. Continue to cool on a rack. Enjoy!

<a href=”″ title=”World Bread Day 2014 (submit your loaf on October 16, 2014″><img src=”” width=”130″ height=”250″ alt=”World Bread Day 2014 (submit your loaf on October 16, 2014)”></a>


zorra November 14, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Thank you for participating in World Bread Day 2014!

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