Msemen Dough for Square-Shaped Moroccan Pancakes

Msemen Dough for Square-Shaped Moroccan Pancakes

The Spruce / Christine Ma

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Resting Time: 10 mins
Total: 70 mins
Yield: 20 msemen
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
5560 Calories
379g Fat
471g Carbs
68g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 5560
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 379g 486%
Saturated Fat 54g 269%
Cholesterol 122mg 41%
Sodium 2547mg 111%
Total Carbohydrate 471g 171%
Dietary Fiber 19g 68%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 68g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 122mg 9%
Iron 28mg 156%
Potassium 817mg 17%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Perhaps you are familiar with rghaif, the round Moroccan pancake. This recipe uses the same dough to make Msemen, a flattened square-shaped version of rghaif. Instead of rolling up the dough and making flat circles, the dough is made into square shapes.

First, the dough is kneaded like bread dough until soft and smooth. Then, portions of the dough are flattened and folded into squares. Keeping the dough well-oiled and frying it in a pan yields a layered pancake or flatbread that is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.

This recipe calls for a little semolina for texture and taste, but how much to use is a matter of personal preference. Substitute more semolina for some of the white flour if you like a coarser texture.

Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 3 1/2 cups (440 grams) all-purpose flour, more as needed

  • 1/2 cup (90 gramsfine semolina

  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon yeast

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water, more if needed

For Cooking the Msemen:

  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

  • 1/2 cup fine semolina

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

  • Salted butter, honey, or jam, for serving

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, the msemen is broken down into categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Msemen Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Msemen Dough ingredients

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  2. Mix together flour, semolina, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large mixing bowl.

    flour, semolina, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large mixing bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  3. Add warm water and mix to form a dough. Add more water if necessary to make a dough that is soft and easy to knead, but not sticky. If dough is too sticky to handle, add a little flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.

    dough in a bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  4. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes, until dough is very smooth and elastic. Alternatively, knead dough in a stand mixer with a dough hook for 5 minutes.

    dough ball in a bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

Fold the Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    dough ingredients

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  2. Prepare a large, smooth surface for working with dough; a large plastic tray or a clean counter is fine. Spread a little vegetable oil over the work surface so dough doesn't stick.

    oil on a counter

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  3. Keeping hands and dough well-oiled, divide msemen dough into smooth balls. Try the Moroccan method: Grasp a large portion of dough and squeeze off a ball between thumb and forefinger. It takes a little practice but is an efficient way to control the size of the balls.

    dough separated into dough balls

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  4. Set balls of dough on an oiled surface, such as a baking sheet. Be sure dough is well-oiled so it doesn't dry out. If making a large quantity, consider covering dough loosely with plastic while working. Allow dough to rest for 10 minutes.

    dough balls on a baking sheet

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  5. Working in order, starting with first ball of dough that was shaped, dip a ball of dough in the vegetable oil.

    dough ball in a bowl with water, dough balls on a baking sheet

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  6. Use oiled hands to flatten and spread dough into a very thin circle or irregular square. Make it as thin as possible without breaking dough. A small hole or two is okay; they'll be concealed when the dough is folded.

    rolled out dough ball

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  7. Dot dough with butter and sprinkle with a little semolina. This helps keep folded layers separate as msemen cooks.

    Dot dough with butter and sprinkle with a little semolina

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  8. Fold one side of dough into the center.

    Fold one side of dough into the center

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  9. Fold opposite side into center to make a narrow strip of dough.

    Fold opposite side into center to make a narrow strip of dough

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  10. Fold one end of the strip of dough to the center.

    Fold one end of the strip of dough to the center

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  11. Fold opposite end of dough to center to make a square.

    Fold opposite end of dough to center to make a square

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  12. Set folded dough aside on an oiled surface. Repeat process until all of the dough has been folded into squares.

    dough squares on a baking sheet

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

Cook the Msemen

  1. Heat a frying pan, cast-iron skillet, or griddle over medium to medium-high heat.

    cast iron skillet

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  2. Pat each square of dough as it is picked up with fingers or palm to flatten it until approximately double in size.

    rolled out dough square

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  3. Place msemen in pan and fry, turning over several times, until golden brown and the center of the msemen is cooked (it should be chewy, but not gummy or raw). This should take several minutes.

    fried dough square in a cast iron skillet

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  4. Remove cooked msemen to a rack to cool while frying the remaining msemen.

    Msemen Dough for Square-Shaped Moroccan Pancakes on a cooling rack

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  5. Serve msemen plain with butter and honey or jam.

    Msemen Dough for Square-Shaped Moroccan Pancakes on a plate

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

    Tips

    • It's common to shape the balls of dough about the size of apricots or small plums; this will yield a 4- to 5-inch-square msemen. You can make msemen any size you like, but they're often made small so more will fit onto a griddle or into a pan to cook at one time. If you are cooking msemen one-by-one, you might want to make them larger and set up several pans.
    • To make a syrup from butter and honey, simply melt equal portions of butter and honey in a pan until hot and bubbly. Carefully and quickly dip the msemen in the syrup and place it on a serving platter.
    • Msemen can be made up ahead of time and placed in the freezer for later use. Reheat them in just a few minutes on either the stovetop or in the oven.