Simit are twisted ring breads from Turkey. Made with sesame crumb and crust, they are addictive. I first ate them while on a ferry outside Istanbul, visiting my friend Dilara. The lovely tastes and memories lingered. So I wanted to make a batch at home. Here they are.
Kamel Saci is a baker who grew up in Toulouse, but now lives and works in New York City, baking at Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria. Among many things for which to admire him, I love his doughs for pizza and focaccia. Basic and simple, he's posted the recipe on his website.
His focaccia fino is particularly interesting, a no-shape loaf of bread that is imbibed in olive oil and cut straight from a slab of airy dough, then baked directly to a golden sweet finish. Given my penchant for sourdough, I adapted it. There's an amazing shelf life and sweetness to this dough. Here is what I got from a mixed hybrid adaption as I ran low of yeast!
Landbrot is the quintissential country loaf, often with rye, and wheat combinations. Add in some Sauerkraut, landbrot is a hardy, moist bread for sandwiches. My latest adaption of sauerkraut bread, was switching kimchee for sauerkraut, confusion, hmm, maybe, but it's got some umami. Spicy and fermented, some barley replacing rye to add a certain Korean taste and harmony. Taste, smokey, and so moist!
I did a bread collaboration with Sara De Bellis of Abbotegga restaurant this week, incorporating regional Italian breads into a wine and food pairing. Sort of an aperetivo style mix, it included Ligurian onion focaccia, Piadina flat breat from Emiglio Romana, and semolina bread for pane cunzatu from Sicily.
Old Mother. That's the name of a favorite bread from my friend Teresa Greenway, a loaf that's certainly easy to love. It combines old sourdough, which literally rots in the fridge, which is then added to the dough along with a well fed levain. Google Teresa, as she's written blogs and ebooks and is a gem. Here's my rendition of this gem of a loaf, benefit of Teresa.
Having seen erratic taste and texture in recent bakes, I lessened the liquid in my sourdough to see if it improved my bakes. And thinking that weak protein from local flour (farmed and milled in NY State) had a negative impact, I also refreshed my levain by adding some store bought flour, figuring it might correct those issues.
It did lead to a better crumb and crust coming out of my oven. A recent visit with baker-extraordinaire Kamel Saci, (from Il Buco Alimentari) helped, too, as he shared his secret of heating water for levain, adding it to the flour, allowing to cool enough, then adding the sourdough seed! I thought it odd, but tasting and seeing his bread and his advice, I was converted. Thank you, Kamel, for a lovely loaf.
The loaf started was fermented with a rye, buckwheat sour dough. The remainder of the flour mix was varying percentages of local farmed wheat, barley and Castelvetranograno duro from Molini del Ponte in Sicily. Buckwheat is a pseudo cereal, more a seed than a grain that is related to sorrel and rhubarb. Rye is a grass, and a relative to barley and wheat. Combined with the ancient grain of Sicily, it's a happy meeting, rustic and flavorful.
Recently I made a Tuscan Schiacciata - which might be thought of as a grape pizza. The base was an untraditional, no-knead pizza sour dough. The filling was Pantelleria-grown dried raisins bought at Gustiamo. The flavor enhancers Nocellara Belice olive oil, finocchieto salvatica (wild anise) and Thompson grapes. A hybrid creation and a lovely result.
Recently baker Uri Scheft (from Manhattan-based Breads Bakery) invited me to join his crew and some students to mix, and shape three different breads. It gave me a great opportunity to see Uri shape his famous challah bread in various braids - from two to six strands. It was also great to hear Uri use the four hour workshop to explain his approach. Here are some shots from the class.