Sometimes all you need to be deeply satisfied is home baked bread with added butter and jam given by a friend.
In my case, I was reminded of such simple pleasures when I baked a loaf of Turkish Bread from Annabel Langbein’s show, The Free Range Cook. Oddly enough, the recipe is not on her website. So, I laboriously wrote it down after many replays and then confirmed it by someone else’s transcription. My only difference is that the original recipe says to bake the loaves (it makes two; I often cut the recipe in half) for 20 minutes. Mine takes 30. I suggest that you start checking at the 20 minute mark every few minutes.
It’s called Turkish Bread. And although I was only in Turkey once nearly 20 years ago my recollection is that this bread is pretty accurate. It’s soft, moist and about double the thickness of a flat bread. I mostly bake it to use for savory dips. For example, olive oil and nutty cumin Dukkha (again, not found on Annabel’s website, but after more replays, I’ve verified her recipe on Milk and Honey’s blog.), hummus, labneh, or leftover shakshuka sauce, recently deliciously made by friend Kirk. I had plenty of extra bread so I enjoyed it for breakfast the next morning. This time with butter and jam. It makes nice little bread fingers, a perfect size.
The plum jam was given to me and Tom when we stayed in a 1713 stone farmhouse turned B&B (Casa Sassolo1713), in 1991 in Monte San Pietro about 30 minutes outside of Bologna, Italy. We wanted to experience what it was like to live in the country. It was glorious. At that time, Tom and I were considering opening up our spare room via Airbnb in San Francisco after his son moved out, which we did for a period of time. Owners of Casa Sassollo, Piero and Fabia, served as our role models. They could not have been more warm, welcoming, or gracious. Salt of the Earth. I stay in touch with them through our love of good cooking on our respective Facebook and Instagram pages. During our Airbnb hosting days, Tom and I would often ask each other, “What would Piero or Fabia do?!” And that’s what we would do.
Sorry… no process photos this week. The recipe is easy, and I have full confidence in all of you! 🙂
Cooking with Friends (Real and Virtual) Annabel Langbein’s Turkish Bread
- 1 2/3 cups lukewarm water, between 105F (40C) and 110F (43C)
- 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 5 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
- 4 1/2 cups bread flour
To finish, sprinkle on top of each loaf:
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (optional)
- Black or regular sesame seeds (optional)
- Some kosher or sea salt for texture
- In a small bowl or cup, mix yeast and sugar into warm water (between 105F (40C) and 110F (43C)). Leave to get foamy (10 minutes), then stir, in yogurt and olive oil
- In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Pour in liquids and stir with a wooden spoon to get a sticky dough
- Add up to another 1/2 cup of flour, only as needed to get the dough to work together better. I do this through flouring the workbench. Adding too much flour will produce a dry bread
- Pour out onto floured bench (or if your bowl is large enough, knead it there. That’s what I do to avoid having to clean my countertop) and knead about 2 minutes. Place back into unclean bowl, cover with a towel and wait 2 hours for it to double in size
- Preheat oven to 375F (190C)
- Take dough back out onto the board, lightly push it down into an oblong, and divide it into 2
- Put onto a baking tray and get each roughly the same length, almost to the length of the tray and about a hand’s width wide
- Drizzle some oil over the top and dimple the top of the dough with your fingertips. Add the optional seeds and salt, as desired
- Bake about 30 min until a “gorgeous golden loaf” (Annabel’s words said in a thick New Zealand accent)