The bread marathon continues apace – with a few disasters along the way. My in-laws, who mostly only eat white death from the supermarket, came to stay for the weekend and I dragged out an old favourite recipe for Turkish bread, which they seemed to love (or at least eat a lot of).
I tore this recipe out of a newspaper years ago and used to make it by hand, which is satisfying but quite messy. Now I use a mixer to do the trick and gain immense satisfaction from not having to scrape dough remnants off the work surface. The best thing about this bread, apart from its spongey texture, is that you can decide to make it at morning tea time and it’ll be ready for lunch.
These instructions are for making the bread by hand. If you’re making it in a mixer with a dough hook, use low speed and mix for a couple of minutes, then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat two or three times until you have a stretchy but still slightly sticky dough.
500g strong flour
1 sachet dried yeast (or 1 1/2 tsp)
1 1/4 Tbsp olive oil
360ml warm water
egg wash (1 egg beaten with 3 1/2 Tbsp water)
3Tbsp sesame, cumin and/or nigella seeds (also known as kalonji or onion seeds)
Place the flour, salt, sugar, olive oil and yeast in a large bowl. Slowly add the water and mix well by hand. Drop onto a clean bench and begin kneading. The dough will be very wet but do not be tempted to add more flour.
Knead for five minutes, rest for 30 seconds, then repeat this process twice (so you’re kneading for a total of 15 minutes. By the end of this process the dough should be stretchy like a large rubber band (and your arms will be like jelly).
Rinse out your original bowl and dry, then oil it lightly. Place the dough in the bowl, turn to coat it with oil and cover the bowl with clingfilm. Leave in a warm place for an hour, until the dough has doubled in size.
Tip the dough gently onto a floured work surface and cut into three pieces. Gently pick up each piece of dough and tuck the edges underneath to form a tight oblong shape. Put each piece back on the floured bench and cover with a tea towel. Leave for 20 minutes.
Turn your oven to 250C. Uncover the dough and gently stretch each piece into an oblong shape, nearly the full length of a baking tray. Place on a lined baking tray. Brush each piece with the egg wash, then dimple them with your fingertips. Sprinkle with the seeds. Leave to rest for 15 minutes, then bake in the very hot oven for about eight minutes, until they are risen and lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack.