How to Make Xi’an Famous Foods’ Famous Daily Bread

No lengthy proofing required.

xi'an famous foods daily bread
Photo: Courtesy of Xi'an Famous Foods

Give us this day our daily bread—and when I say daily bread I genuinely mean the “daily bread” from Xi’an Famous Foods: a circular pan fried disc with a fluffy center that sandwiches the New York-based chain’s celebrated spicy cumin lamb burger.

This style of bread, which can also be referred to as mo, is found all over Shaanxi province in China. It’s not a leavened bread, but more akin to a flatbread with a crispy grilled exterior and soft, pillowy interior—meaning it won’t take hours of your life of proofing and waiting and sighing to make. It can be used in pao mo, a hot soup where the sprinkles of cubed bread absorb the fragrance of lamb, as buns for a stewed pork sandwich, or eaten as is.

Regardless of what you want to do with it, we’ve got the recipe from Jason Wang’s brand new Xi’an Famous Foods cookbook so you can finally discard your eerie-looking sourdough starter. And once you’ve gotten this recipe pinned down, you can find other ways to use it (like in the spicy cumin lamb burger!) in the cookbook.    

daily bread
Photo: Courtesy of Xi'an Famous Foods

Daily Bread

Makes 4 breads
  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour or high-gluten flour
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) room-temperature water
  •  A thin, evenly cylindrical rolling pin, roughly 11⁄2 inches (4 cm) in diameter
In a large bowl, add the flour, yeast, baking powder, and sugar and mix to combine.
Add the water slowly while mixing with one hand, until the texture is fluffy and sandy, almost like feathery snow. Using both hands, knead the dough until it comes together in a smooth ball, 3 to 5 minutes.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
After resting, remove the plastic wrap and knead the dough a few more times, either inside the bowl or on a countertop. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for another 10 minutes.
After resting, divide the dough into 4 evenly sized pieces.
To shape the dough, take one piece and place it on an unfloured work surface. Lightly grip the dough and firmly roll against the work surface into a smooth, round mound.
When round, flatten the ball of dough with the palm of your hand against the work counter. Use a rolling pin to flatten it into a round cake, about 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Set a small dry skillet over medium heat. Preheat for 3 minutes.
Once hot, turn the heat down to low and put a cake (or if you are confident with your skills, a few cakes) into the pan. Cover the skillet and cook the bread for about 1 minute on each side, until some brown spots appear. Flip and cook once more on each side to ensure the dough is fully cooked. If you see any parts that look gray or raw, it’s not quite ready. It should be slightly crisp on the outside and steaming inside. The bread is best served fresh and warm, but can be cooled to room temperature, wrapped in a zip-top bag or plastic wrap, and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Kat Thompson is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn