Inspired from traditional Greek island recipes.
Yields 1 large or 2 medium loaves, or 2 flattish laganes
2 cups fine semolina flour
3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour or 1 ½ cup wheat and 1 cup barley flour
2 teaspoon instant dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 teaspoons mixed ground coriander seeds, caraway and mahlep (about 2 tsp coriander, 1/2 tsp ground mahlep, 1 teaspoons caraway seeds)
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper (optional)
3 ½ or more cups spring water
2 tablespoons milk and 2-3 tablespoons sesame or pumpkin 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 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.
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 to monitor the dough’s expansion. Cover with the oiled plastic wrap and let rise until double its original volume: 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 slowly. Before proceeding further, bring to room temperature).
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into to loaves, an 8-x-11-inch oval or an 8-inch round, or make laganes (flattish breads) by pushing the dough with wet fingers making dimples all over the surface. Place in baking dishes lined with parchment paper, cover with the oiled plastic wrap and let it rise for another 30 minutes —it won’t rise much. If you like, brash the surface with milk, and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
(At this point you can cut off pieces of dough, flatten them slightly, sprinkle with flour, wrap in parchment paper, seal in zip log 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 450°F.
Carefully take out the hot baking sheet, and lifting the parchment papers with the breads, slide them on the hot pan. With a wet baker’s razor or with a pair of kitchen scissors make 3 diagonal cuts in the surface of each loaf.
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.