It’s embarrassing to admit but there’s going to be a gap in my life now that Bake-Off is all over. The children and I have loved the show so much this year (watching it curled up on the sofa in our dressing gowns).
We’ve not been bothered by the swap to Channel 4. I like Sandy and Pru and the children think Noel is hilarious. Even the adverts give us a welcome break for trips to the toilet and to make hot drinks.
With the Bake-Off theme in mind, I wanted to share with you this recipe for Cypriot Village Bread based on the recipe in Paul Hollywood’s ‘100 Great Breads‘. Now I’ve tried a few of these breads and they’re not all great (the croissant recipe is dreadfully disappointing and bears little resemblance to his croissant recipes elsewhere).
This one however has become a bit of a family favourite when we want a smorgasbord style dinner where a nice loaf of bread is the star of the show. It seems to go well with cold meats, dips, soup and cheeses alike.
The seed combination on top is amazingly delicious. You will probably find that you have some seeds left over after soaking and covering the dough (even though the recipe here uses half the amount that Paul suggests). Don’t throw any leftovers away but dry the seeds out again in a hot oven and sprinkle them over salads or noodle dishes.
Cypriot Village Bread
Makes one loaf which will feed a family of four as the main part of a dinner.
- Pinch of mastika (ground first with a pestle and mortar)
- Pinch of mechlebe (ground first with a pestle and mortar)
I have never heard of or seen these spice for sale. Paul recommends using ground fennel seeds instead which is what I do.
- 500g of strong white bread flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons of salt
- 20g of yeast (I am going to experiment with reducing this quantity, I usually use instant action yeast and I think this is the quantity for fresh yeast)
- 50ml of olive oil
- 300ml of water
- 50g of sesame seeds
- 2 teaspoons of black cumin seeds (or use regular cumin seeds)
- 2 teaspoons of caraway seeds
Put the flour, salt, yeast and olive oil and water in a large bowl and mix together. Add the mastika and mechlebe, or fennel, then knead for 5 minutes.
Leave to prove for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size (the time here will depend on your room temperature). I find it needs at least 2 hours.
Tip the sesame, cumin and caraway seeds into a cup and pour over a little warm water. This will puff up the sesame seeds help them to release their juice.
Line a baking tray. Tip out the risen dough and shape it into a ball.
Spread the seeds thinly onto a flat plate and roll the top of the ball of dough in it until well covered with seeds.
Place the dough on the lined baking tray and leave it to rise again for a further hour. I cover it with a large upturned bowl, my husband prefers to place a tea towel lightly over the top.
Preheat your oven to 220oC.
Using a very sharp knife, make a cut all the way around the middle of the ball and two large cuts across the top.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. I like to remove it from the tray after 20 minutes (and place is directly on the wire rack in the over) to make sure that the bottom is crisp.
Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting (if you can wait that long).