Square Moroccan Pancakes [Msemen or Rghaif]
Comments: This is a recipe for the dough used to make msemen, also called rghaif.
The dough is kneaded like bread dough until soft and smooth.
Serve the msemen plain, with butter and honey, or jam.
To make a syrup from butter and honey, simply melt equal portions of butter and honey into a saucepan until hot and bubbly; carefully and quickly dip the msemen in the syrup and place on a serving platter.
Msemen, also known as rghaif, are Moroccan pancakes that have been folded into a square shape before being fried in a frypan.
If you've never seen this done, the process might seem confusing but it is actually quite easy!
Frying the dough in a frypan yields a layered pancake that is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
  • 3 1/2 cups [490 g] flour
  • 1/2 cup [125 mL] fine semolina
  • 2 teaspoons [10 g] sugar
  • 2 teaspoons [10 mL] salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon [1 mL] yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups [375 mL] warm water, more if needed
  • 1 1/2 cups [375 mL] vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup [125 mL] fine semolina flour, for folding
  • 1/4 cup [60 g] very soft unsalted butter
  • Into a bowl, mix together flour, singe semolina, sugar, salt and yeast.
  • Pour in water warm water and mix to form a dough, adding 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 one tablespoon [8.75 g] at a time.
  • Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes, or knead dough in a stand mixer with dough hook for 5 minutes, until the dough is very smooth and elastic.
  • Set out some vegetable oil, fine semolina flour, and soft unsalted butter [these will be used when shaping the dough].
  • Prepare a large, smooth surface for working with the dough; a large plastic tray or a clean counter is fine.
  • Spread the work surface with a little vegetable oil so the dough won't stick
  • Keeping your hands and the dough well-oiled, divide the dough into smooth balls.
  • Grasp a large portion of dough and squeeze off a ball, about the size of apricots or small plums, between your thumb and forefinger [it takes a little practice, but this method is an efficient way to control the size of the balls].
  • These balls should yield 4 to 5-inch [10 to 12-cm] square msemen.
  • You can make msemen any size you like but small ones can fit more in a griddle or pan to cook at one time but if you plan to cook msemen one by one, you might want to make them larger.
  • Take a ball of dough, dip it in the oil, and use oiled hands to flatten and spread the dough into a very thin circle or irregular square, making it as thin as you can without breaking the dough even though a small hole or two in the dough is OK.
  • Dot the dough with butter and then sprinkle the dough with a little semolina to help keep the folded layers separate when the msemen cooks.
  • Fold one side of the dough into the center then fold the opposite side into the center to make a narrow strip of dough.
  • Fold one end of the strip of dough to the center.
  • Fold the opposite end of dough to the center to make a square.
  • Set aside the folded dough on an oiled surface.
  • Repeat the process until all the balls of dough have been folded into squares.
  • Heat a frying pan, cast iron skillet or griddle over medium to medium-high heat.
  • Take a square of dough, and pat it with your fingers or palm of your hand to flatten it until approximately double in size.
  • Fry the msemen turning over several times, until golden brown and the center of the msemen is cooked [it should be chewy, but not gummy or raw], which shloud take several minutes.
  • Transfer onto a wire rack; leave to cool.
  • Repeat with remaining dough, and serve.