I simply love to make bread, I find the science behind it fascinating and I cannot think of a better therapy than kneading the dough with my bare hands. But my adventurous side keeps me from repeating the same old recipes over and over again, so every fortnight I came up with new and exciting recipes. Some of them leave me as soon as I rest my head on the pillow but others refuse to leave my side. It’s been more than three years since I discovered this delicious Maroccan semolina bread and I turn to it every month ever since. It’s one of the easiest bread recipe I’ve ever made and the taste is simply amazing. It has a lovely thin crust and a pillowy and chewy center. I must confess that although I’m deeply fond of all my bread recipes, this one has a special place in my heart.
⦁ 180ml lukewarm water
⦁ 1 tsp sugar
⦁ 1 tsp active dry yeast
⦁ 200g semolina
⦁ 170g all-purpose white flour
⦁ 1 Tbsp olive oil (15ml)
⦁ 1 tsp salt
1. In a small bowl combine water, sugar and yeast and let aside for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, the mixture should be foamy.
2. In a large bowl sift together the white flour, semolina and salt and make a well in the center. Add the yeast mixture and the olive oil and mix with a wooden spatula until you form a ball.
3. Bring the dough on a floured working surface and knead it for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, the dough should be smooth.
4. Place dough on the semolina-powdered working surface, cover with a clean towel and let it relax for 10 minutes.
5. After 10 minutes using a rolling pin, roll the dough in a 1 cm thick disc and place it on a parchment paper – lined tray. With a sharp blade score the surface in a diamond pattern. Cover with the same towel and let it rise for 45 – 60 minutes. Preheat the oven at 400°F/204°C (gas mark 6).
6. When the bread has doubled its thickness place the tray in the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Let the bread cool down on a wire rack for about 1 hour before slicing it.
Challah is a braided bread made traditionally in the Jewish cuisine. This spectacular bread has a golden-brown, shiny crust and a airy and pilowy slightly sweet interior. It’s more than possible I’ve made challah more than two dozen times, in fact I bake it each and every time I want to surprise my guests. Beside the wow factor, this bread surprizes with its amazing taste as well.
Besides the usual ingredients, such as flour, water, salt, yeast and sugar, this bread is usually enriched with vegetable oil or melted butter and eggs, which give challah a golden color and an unmistakable richness. These ingredients also allow this bread to remain soft for several days. If you’ve never tried to make challah before, I encourage you with all my heart to give it a try!
Ingredients (for a 45x15cm loaf):
- 630g all-purpose flour (22 oz)
- 225ml lukewarm water (8 oz)
- 1 satchel active dry yeast (7g)
- 2 Tbsp granulated sugar (30g)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt (8g)
- 55ml vegetable oil (2 oz)
- 4 egg (2 egg + 1 yolk for the dough and 1 egg for the wash)
- 2 – 3 Tbsp poppy seeds
- Activate the yeast. In a small bowl combine water, sugar and yeast and let aside for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, the mixture should be frothy.
- Form the dough. In a large bowl sift the flour and make a well in the center. Add the yeast mixture (point 1) and the oil, 2 eggs and 1 yolk and mix with a wooden spatula. Add the salt and continue mixing until you form a ball.
- Knead the dough. Bring the dough on a floured working surface and knead it for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, the dough should be smooth.
- Let the dough rise. Place dough in the bowl, cover with a clean towel and let it rise in a warm place for about 90 minutes (or until doubled in size).
- After 90 minutes, place the dough back on the working surface and knead vigorously to knock out the air bubbles.
- Form the ropes. Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. Elongate each ball of dough with your hands until you form a 45cm rope. Proceed the same with the rest of the dough.
- Braid the loaf. For a six-rope braid, I’ll leave you below the step by step pictures, as well as a gif.
- Preheat the the oven at 180°C / 350°F (gas mark 4).
- Place the loaf on a parchment paper-lined tray. Cover with a clean towel and let it rise for about 45 – 60 minutes.
- After about 1 hour give the apply egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
- Bake it in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Place it on a wire rack and let it cool down for about 30 minutes before slicing.
Lachha paratha is an Indian multi layered flatbread. For this simple recipe you’ll only need a handful of budget-friendly ingredients. The dough for lachha paratha is a mix of flour, water and oil, with a pinch of salt and sugar. After the dough has rested for a while, it is divided into 6 balls, and each ball is flatten into a disc with a rolling pin. And this is where the magic begins. Each disc, after being brushed with oil and powdered with flour, is folded into a fan and the fan is shaped as a pinwheel. Each pinwheel is flatten with a rolling pin into a flatbread. All the steps mentioned above are responsible for those lovely, flaky layers of goodness. Lachha paratha is more labor-intensive than a regular flatbread, but the result is absolutely spectacular; these multi layered flatbreads are not only a feast for the taste buds, but also for the eyes (and even for the ears).
Ingredients (for 6 – 8 flatbreads):
- 280g whole wheat flour (2 cups) * + extra 70g for rolling (1/2 cups)
- 75ml olive oil (5 Tbsp)**
- aprox 140ml lukewarm water (38 – 40°C)***
- 5g salt (1 tsp)
- 5g granulated sugar (1 tsp)
* I used whole wheat flour. This recipe can be made with all-purpose white flour or with a mixture of all-purpose and whole wheat flour.
** One Tbsp of olive oil is added to the dough and 4 Tbsp are used for brushing the rolled flatbread.
*** The quantity of water depends on the type of flour. The water is added 2 Tbsp at a time until you form a soft ball of dough, a ball that doesn’t stick to the bowl. For 280g whole wheat flour I use about 140ml water.
- Prepare the dough. In a large bowl combine white flour (sifted), sugar, salt and oil and make a well in the center. Add about 2 Tbsp of water at a time and mix with your fingers until you form a ball. The ball should be soft but it shouldn’t stick to the bowl.
- Knead the dough. Bring the dough to a floured working surface and knead it for 2 minutes. Place the dough in the bowl, cover it with a damp towel and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Cut the dough into triangles. After 30 minutes, place the dough back on the working surface, knead it and cut it into 6 triangles. Shape each triangle into a small ball.
- Roll the first piece of dough. Place one ball on the floured working surface and cover the other 5 with the same damp towel. Roll the first ball with a rolling pin until it gets 2mm thick.
- Olive oil & flour. Brush the first flatbread with olive oil and sprinkle with flour. Beginning with one end, fold it to form pleats.
- Make a pinwheel. Take one end of the fan and roll it like a pinwheel.
- Roll the flatbread. Flatten the pinwheel with a rolling pin until 3 – 4mm thick.
- Cook. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. When you see pockets of air forming at the surface brush the raw surface with oil and flip it. Brush the cooked surface with olive oil too. Flip it again and cook until golden brown.
- Repeat with the other pieces of dough. Proceed the same with the remaining flatbreads. I prefer to roll the second one while the first one is cooking. It saves times.
- Serve. Serve warm with curry, chutney or different vegetable spreads.