Yellow, Spicy Bread

This is a bread with bold flavor, based on my usual dough to which I substituted cornmeal for the barley, and added a lot more spices, especially turmeric and cumin, which give it a warm, earthy flavor and a vivid yellow color.

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You can shape it into loaves, or you can use the dough to make olive-and-leek-stuffed rolls, or larger pies.

The irresistible, crispy crackers that we created baking thin oval pita-like pieces of dough on the saç our favorites! Our latest love affair with the hot-plate I brought from Istanbul inspired us to make these yellow crackers, as well as other savory and sweet dishes. The crispy breads can be easily baked on a griddle. Depending on the size of the one you can use take out pieces of dough and flatten then so that they fit on your hot-plate.

Yields 2-3 medium loaves, or laganes –focaccia-like breads

2 tablespoons (15 grams) instant dry yeast

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups strong, bread flour, or fine semolina (often called pasta flour)

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds

1 teaspoon caraway or aniseeds

½ teaspoon mahlep or ground mastic, or more aniseeds (see Note)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

3 teaspoons turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper (optional)

3 -4 cups spring water or more

Topping (optional)

2 tablespoons milk and 3-4 tablespoons sesame, nigella, sunflower, poppy or any other seeds

 

In a small bowl mix the yeast with 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup water, preferably slightly warm. Whisk with a spoon or spatula to mix well.

In another, large bowl put the flours, the salt and the spices and mix well with a spatula. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture and 3 cups cold water. Use a strong spatula to incorporate the liquid into the flours. With a hand-held mixer fitted with dough hooks work the mixture for 1-2 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes. Work again with the hand-held mixer for 5 minutes or more, occasionally stopping to turn over the dough with a large spatula. The dough should still be wet and sticky, but should start to come off the sides of the bowl. If too dry, add a little water, if too wet add a few tablespoons all-purpose flour.

Alternatively, make the dough easily in the KitchenAid. Add the flours to the machine’s bowl, toss, then make a well in the center and pour the yeast mixture. Fit the bowl to the machine, fitted with the dough hook, and start in low, adding slowly the water on the side of the bowl. Work the dough for about 4 minutes, until it cleans the sides of the bowl.

Flour very lightly the working surface and turn out the dough. With floured hands knead briefly –folding, pushing, turning and folding again— for a couple of 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 to monitor the dough’s expansion. Cover with the oiled plastic wrap and let rise until double its original volume: about 1 1/2  hours or more.

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(You may now transfer the bowl with the dough to the refrigerator, and leave it overnight and up to 2 days. It will continue to rise slowly. Before proceeding further, bring to room temperature).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide with a dough scraper. You can shape and bake half the dough, returning the other half into the refrigerator, covered with oiled plastic, to bake breads, or make the irresistible Griddle Crackers, another day.

and shape into to 2-3 loaves oval, or round, or make long baguettes or laganes (flatish breads) by pushing the dough with wet fingers making dimples all over the surface.

Place the shaped beads in baking sheets lined with parchment paper, cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise for another 35-45 minutes. If you like, brush the surface with milk, and sprinkle with the sesame or other seeds.

At least 20 minutes before baking, place a baking stone or a heavy baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 450°F.

Carefully lift the parchment papers with the breads and slide them on the hot stone or pan. With a wet baker’s razor, or with a pair of kitchen scissors make cuts in the surface of the round and oval loaves.   Sprinkle with water from a plant sprinkler and bake for 15 minutes, sprinkling quickly into the oven with water 3 more times.

Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F. Do the same (sprinkle 3 times) for flat breads, but reduce the heat immediately after you put them in the oven.

Bake the loaves for 45 minutes more, the flat breads for about 25-30 minutes.

Wearing oven mitts and using a spatula, remove the breads from the pans and place directly on the oven rack. Bake for 5-10 minutes more, or until the bread sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom.   Let cool completely on a rack before slicing.

VARIATION:

Yellow Pita Breads

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You can also take fist-size pieces of the risen dough and shape into round or oval flat discs pressing and flattening with your palms. Bake on the heated stone or pan, and they will puff up, creating a hollow pocket inside. Cover with aluminum foil as you take out of the oven to keep them soft, and eat while still warm.

 

NOTE: The spice mixture –minus the pepper, cumin and turmeric– is the standard flavoring I use for all my breads. I make a batch which I keep in a jar, using about ½ cup ground coriander, 2 teaspoons each caraway, aniseeds and/or fennel seeds, and 1 teaspoons ground mahlep or mastic.

 

 

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