Recipe from All You Knead Is Bread by Jane Mason (Ryland Peters & Small, 2012)
The bakers of the Ottoman Empire believed that the Angel Gabriel taught Adam how to bake when he was expelled from the Garden of Eden. In Turkey and across the entire Muslim world, bread is considered holy – it is a blessing from God and it is a sin to waste it.
Photography by Peter Cassidy
The Turks grow fantastic strong bread flour and have a vast array of delicious types of bread. Simple to make (indeed frequently still made fresh, two or even three times a day), pide ekmeghi is the bread you will find on the table of most Turkish people most days of the year. It is a perfect companion for hummus, feta cheese, honey, hard-boiled eggs or olives, or even butter and jam.
- 4¾ cups strong white (bread) flour
- 1½ teaspoons instant yeast, 2 teaspoons dry yeast, or ¾ cake fresh yeast
- 1 2/3 cups water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- milk, or egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water, to glaze nigella and sesame seeds
- baking sheet, lined with non-stick parchment paper
Makes 2 loavesIf you are using instant or fresh yeast, put all the ingredients in a big bowl and mix them together. Tip out onto the counter and knead well for 10 minutes – see below for instructions on kneading.
If you are using dry yeast, put the flour in a big bowl and make a well. Sprinkle the dry yeast in the well and add ½ cup of the water. Cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes. You may or may not get a beige sludge on the top of the water, but don’t worry – what is important is to dissolve the yeast. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Tip out onto the counter and knead well for 10 minutes – see below for instructions on kneading.
Pop the kneaded dough back into the bowl and cover with a tea towel, shower hat or plastic bag. Allow to rest for 1–2 hours until doubled in size.
Pull the dough out onto an unfloured surface.
Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Pretend each portion is a clock. Starting at noon, gently pinch about ½ inch of the edge of the dough and pull it up and out, stretching it as far as you can without breaking it. Don’t worry if you do, just try not to. Fold that pinched bit over the portion of dough and gently lay it down. Repeat this action all round the portion of dough. As you do it, you can turn the portion of dough, or move yourself around it. Tuck it up into a loose ball. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Gently stretch each ball into a disc shape about 1 inch thick. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest again for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 230˚C (425˚F) Gas 7.
Press your fingertips lightly into the surface of the dough to make little dimples. Not too hard! You just want to make the surface uneven. To decorate, brush the dough with either milk or the egg wash and sprinkle seeds over the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden and lovely. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Eat fresh fresh fresh.