Barbari BreadPosted: 30 October 2011
Make me very tenderly, and stretch me very long… bake me to the end of love! In Persian
I took this recipe from a friend of mine who has in turn taken it from somewhere else but developed it over the years (yes, years!) to the point of perfection. When I first went through his well-organized and gorgeous pictures, I noticed he must be in love with barbari bread or with baking in general, or perhaps just in love! The instructions he gave for treating the dough with tenderness, and forming it with bare hands and fingers, and the evocative descriptions of the bread’s scents and sights were all indications of a very special type of bread and bread making. Well, I tried his recipes a couple of times, before I really came to the conclusion that yes, to bake this barbari in its perfectly original taste and texture, you must absolutely be gentle, caring and patient- you must be truly in love with it! Try it and you will know what I mean.
Ingredients: Bread Flour: 3+1/4 cups. Water: 1.5 cups. Active Dry Yeast: 1 pouch or 2+1/4 tsp. Baking Powder: 1 tsp. Salt: 2 tsp. Sugar: a pinch. Whole wheat flour: about 1 cup. Poppy Seeds, or Sesame Seeds or Black Sesame Seeds (optional). For Bread Glaze: Bread flour: 1 tbsp. Baking Soda: ½ tbsp. Cold water: 2/3 cup.
1. In a medium size bowl pour a pinch of sugar. Top it with warm water (about 40°) . Water’s temperature is the most crucial factor in baking the bread, as the yeast can only become fully active in a narrow range of temperature. Too hot kills the yeast and too cold won’t let it become active. If you are not using a thermometer, test it by dipping the tip of your finger in the water and ensure it feels slightly warmer than your normal body temperature of 37.
2. Sprinkle the yeast on the water surface. Do not Stir!
3. Gently vibrate the bowl so the yeast settles at the bottom of the bowl.
4. Here comes the main check point: If everything has been done correctly so far, the yeast bubbles up to the surface in 3 to 4 minutes. A pretty and reassuring scene!
5. Mix your flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Then, pour the water-yeast mix in the middle of the flour mix and knead for 10-15 minutes.
6.The dough should become smooth and elastic—not too soft, not too hard. You could add a little bit of water or flour to get to the exact right degree of softness but be careful, not too much of either! Don’t worry if the dough sticks to your hand a little!
7. Cover your bowl in a plastic and let it stand at room temperature for 1 and 1/2 hours.
8. Get busy with the bread glaze while you’re waiting. Simply mix the ingredients in a small pot on medium heat, while stirring constantly. Bbring to boil, then turn off and leave it nearby on stove in a warm spot. You should have a creamy mix.
9. After less than two hours, dough grows almost double in bulk and smells a bit sour– Good signs!
10.Cover a large and flat surface with the whole wheat flour. Divide your dough into two round balls and leave them on this surface for 10 minutes.
11. Using your hand and fingers “open” each dough: At first, you should open the ball to form a flat oval shape.Then dip your fingers in dough, making several vertical lines. Brush dough with the glaze. Sprinkle poppy seeds now if you wish.
12. Now stretch the dough further. Gently hold it in the middle and lift it up, letting the two free edges hang a little – remember the dough is pretty elastic and easily takes form. Transfer them on a solid baking sheet, or preferably on meshed oven rack. Let them stand for another five minutes.
14. Preheat oven to 450 (F). And place the try in the middle. Cook for 15-25 minutes or until they turn golden and smell like fresh bread. Baking time varies with different ovens. Also using a meshed rack requires less cooking time, and a baking sheet requires more time. Smells heavenly once done, you can’t miss it!