Syrian Buns

The US travel ban on Muslims has been judged to be unconstitutional which is great news.
Chaos will still reign, of course, but for now, let's celebrate with some more (no longer, but possibly will be again in the future) Banned Buns! These are the fourth in our series on Banned Buns and they are once again from Syria. Click here to read about the third Banned Bun, and the links to the others are in this post.
Celebrate with your neighbours and have these Syrian buns called Sfeeha
Servings 10 Buns


For the dough

  • 600 g Strong white wheat flour
  • 300 g Water
  • 10 g Olive oil
  • 3 g Instant or 6 g dry or 12 g fresh yeast
  • 12 g Salt

For the topping

  • 200 g Minced lamb
  • 4 tbsp  Olive oil
  • 1 small Onion Finely diced
  • 50 g Pine nuts
  • 1 large Tomato  Deseeded and chopped
  • 1/2 Green pepper Finely diced
  • 1/2 a Lemon Juice and grated rind
  • 1 Handful Parsley chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper


  • If you are using instant or fresh yeast, measure the flour into a big bowl and add all the other ingredients.  Mix them together into a big ball and then turn this out on the counter.  Knead the dough well for 10 minutes.  Pop it back in the bowl, cover it with a damp tea towel or cling film, and let it rest for 1 hour.
  • If you are using dry yeast, measure the flour into a big bowl, make a well in it, and sprinkle in the yeast.  Add the milk and let it sit for 15 minutes.  A beige sludge may or may not form on the top.  Don’t worry about it.  As long as the yeast is fully dissolved it will work.  After 15 minutes, measure in all the other ingredients gather them into a big ball.  Turn this out on the counter and knead well for 10 minutes.  Pop the dough back in the bowl.  Cover it with a damp tea towel or cling film and let it rest for 2 hours.

While the dough is rising, make the topping:

  • Put 2 tablespoons of oil in a big frying pan and add the minced lamb.  Brown it so that it is thoroughly cooked and then remove it with a slotted spoon to drain away the fat.  Clean out the pan with a paper towel and return it to the heat.
  • Put 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan and add the onion.  Sweat this gently with the lid off for 5-6 minutes until it is translucent.  Add the green pepper, pine nuts, and tomato and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add the lamb, the parsley and the spices and stir it all around.  Take it off the heat, cover it and let it cool completely.

To shape the Sfeeha:

  • Pull the dough out of the bowl on to a non floury surface.  Divide the dough into 10 pieces and shape each piece into a tight ball (click here to watch a little video on how to do that).  Place each ball on to a floury surface and let them rest for 30 minutes.
  • Take a ball of dough and press it down gently to double its “footprint” on the tray.  Make a wide, shallow indentation in it (use the end of a rolling pin, a small ladel, the back of a spoon, or just your hands).  Fill the indentation with the lamb stew.  If you are terrible at “portion control” (like me) make the indentation in all 10 balls of dough and then top them – so they all get an equal amount of topping.
  • Place each sfeeha on a baking tray that you have lined with non stick baking parchment. Let them rest for another 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Pop the sfeeha in the oven and bake them for 20 minutes. Let them cool slightly on a wire rack before eating them.  These are perfect for parties so why not take them to a refugee centre, the Syrian community centre, or invites your Syrian neighbours over for lunch!
    This recipe first appeared in The Book of Buns, available on Amazon.
    Want to learn more?  Come and take a bread course with us!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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