Msemen Dough for Square-Shaped Moroccan Pancakes

Msemen Square-Shaped Moroccan Pancakes Recipe

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Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Resting Time: 10 mins
Total: 70 mins
Yield: 20 msemen
Nutritional Guidelines (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.


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.

  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, semolina, sugar, salt, and yeast.

  3. Add the 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 the dough is too sticky to handle, add a little flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.

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

Fold the Dough

  1. Gather the vegetable oil, fine semolina, and soft, unsalted butter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  8. Fold one side of the dough into the center.

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

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

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

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

Cook the Msemen

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

  2. As you pick up each square of dough, pat it with your fingers or the palm of your hand to flatten it until approximately double in size.

  3. Place the msemen in the 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.

  4. Remove cooked msemen to a rack to cool as you fry the remaining msemen.

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


    • 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.