Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Psomi Horiatiko - Greek Country Bread

My wife and I just spent a few days in Crete, the largest of the Greek Islands, and I wanted to share with you this recipe for bread I found there. This is a bread from Greece, called Horiatiko Psomi (literally 'Country Bread') that is regularly baked in rural Greece. In previous postings, I talked about open stone ovens commonly found all over the Middle East and Asia.  In rural Greece this bread is still baked outdoors in an oven of this type. It is a heavy bread with a dense texture that is perfect for mopping up gravy, olive oil dressings etc., in fact anything typically served at a Greek meal. In Greece they use a type of 'yellow' flour not available elsewhere. As far as I can determine, the closest combination is a blend or regular bread flour and semolina flour. Aside from this, the recipe is authentic. This definitely makes the bread heavier

and gives it a very slightly grainy texture. In other words, it is perfect as an accompaniment to a hearty soup and salad type meal.  In any event, the bread produced is wonderful. It has a nice thick crust, and a soft interior. If you have your own sourdough starter, use 3/8 pound, about 170g,  (slightly less than 1/2 cup for most starters) in place of the yeast in the recipe.The taste is just slightly sour (if you use sourdough leavening). Kalo Orexi, as they say,  - Bon Appetit!

This is what you'll need:


1/2 tablespoon yeast
225g ground semolina
425g white bread flour
1 teaspoon bread improver
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon milk
3/4 tablespoon sugar

Here's what you'll need to do:

Mix all the ingredients together by hand and then knead for about 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface until you get a smooth but slightly tacky dough. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, covered, for a little more than an hour until it has doubled in volume. If you want, you can simply place all the ingredients in a bread machine pan and use the 'dough' cycle. It is easier but less fun.

After the first rise, knead the dough to degas it on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes, and then form into a 'torpedo' shape loaf. Place on an oiled (olive oil, of course) baking sheet, slash the loaf 3 or 4 times no more than 1/4 inch (3 mm) deep diagonally. Cover the dough and let it rise again, this time for about 45 minutes until doubled.

About 15 minutes before the bread finishes the second rise, pre-heat the oven to 425 F (220 C). Bake the
bread for about 20 minutes then lower the temperature to 400 F (200 C) and bake an additional 5 minutes or so until golden brown. Your house will smell heavenly, just as an aside.

Cool on a rack. Kali Orexi!

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