Recipe curtesy of my dear friend and acclaimed food historian and award-winning author, Aglaia Kremezi. Inspired by traditional Greek island recipes, this is an incredibly versatile bread dough recipe. Aglaia suggests forming it as flatbread and topping them with her Saltsa Domata (tomato sauce) and feta, or a spicy or smoked cheese, thinly sliced tomato and a sprinkle of salt and rosemary, or simply sprinkle with za'atar and extra virgin olive oil.
Want to explore more of Greece with Aglaia? She and her husband, Costas, can take you on a fabulous journey! Find them at Kea Artisinal.
Makes 1 large or 2 medium loaves, or 2 flat "laganes".
2 cups heirloom (emmer) whole wheat flour, or whole wheat flour1 cup wheat flour1/2 cup barley flour4 teaspoons instant dry yeast2 1/2 teaspoons salt2 teaspoons ground coraiander3 teaspoons aniseseed or caraway seed1/2 teaspoon mahleb, a spice made from seeds from a special species of cherry (Optional)1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper (optional)3 1/2 cups Spring water
2 tablespoons milk (optional)2-3 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)
Place flours, yeast and spices in a large bowl and mix well with a spatula. Make a well in the center and add 3 1/2 cups water. Use the spatula to incorporate the liquid. With a hand-held mixer fitted with dough hooks, work the mixture for 1-2 minutes. Let dough stand for 15 minutes.
Work the dough again with the hand-held mixer for 5 minutes or more, occassionally stopping toe tunr over the dough with a large spatula. The dough should still be wet and sticky, but should begin to come away from the sides of the bowl. If too dry, add a little water. If too wet, add a few tablespoons of all-purpose flour.
Flour the working surface and turn out the dough. Dust your hands and the dough with flour and knead -folding, pushing, turning and folding again- for 6 minutes or more, until you get a dough that is smooth, elastic and slightly sticky to the touch.
Lightly oil a large transparent or semi-transparent bowl, as well as a piece of plastic wrap. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to the oiled bowl. Trace a line on the outside of the bowl. Trace a line on the outside of the bowl to moniter the dough's expansion. Cover with the oiled plastic wrap and let rise until doubled- 1 1/2-2 hours or more.
(When the dough has expanded to about 1 1/2 times its size, you may transfer the bowl with the dough to the refrigerator and leave it overnight and up to 24 hours. It will continue to rise until doubled.)
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into loaves. Use an 8 x 11 inch oval or 8 inch round, or make laganes (flatish breads) by pushing the dough with wet fingers, making dimples over the surface. Place in baking dishes lined with parchment paper, cover with the oiled plastic wrap, and let it rise for another 30-45 minutes - it won't rise much. If you like, brush the surface with milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
(At this pont, you can cut off pieces of dough, flatten them slightly, sprinkle with flour, wrap in parchment paper, seal in ziplock bags and freeze. You can defrost and use later.)
At least 20 minutes before baking, place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 450F.
Carefully take out the hot baking sheet, and lifting the parchment papers with the breads, slide them onto the hot pan. With a wet baker's razor or pair of kitchen scissors, make 3 diagonal cuts in the surface of eash loaf.
Sprinkle with water from a mister and bake for 15 minutes. Open the oven and mist 3 more times. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 F. After 15 more minutes, open the oven and mist 3 more times with the water. Bake the loaves for 45 minutes more, or until the breads are hollow when tapped on the bottom. Let cool completely on a rack before slicing.
Possible toppings for flatbreads:
Saltsa Domata (tomato sauce) and feta, or a spicy
Smoked cheese, thinly sliced tomato and a sprinkle of salt and rosemary, or simply sprinkle with za'atar and extra virgin olive oil.
Marinated Sardines (bocherones) or anchovies with garlic and fennel
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