Thursday, February 14, 2013

Daktyla - Greek Village Bread

You have probably noticed that lately I have been baking a lot of bread from Greece. This is partly because I have a really strong connection with all things Mediterranean. And especially from the Eastern end of the Mediterranean, like Israel and the Levant, Turkey and yes, Greece. Another reason is the developing plans I am making for a culinary tour of Crete this summer. Mornings with yoga on the beach. Afternoons visiting local farmer's markets, oil presses, dairies, vineyards, you name it. Hearing stories, talking with locals and picking up supplies along the way. Back to the hotel for some cooking/baking workshops in Mediterranean-style vegetarian food. Evenings around a big table with great food we prepared ourselves, good wine great company. Personally, I can't wait. Just thinking about it, in cold February makes me a little antsy.

So... this is one of my test recipes for the summer workshops. This sesame-coated bread is traditionally made with 'yellow' or country flour, which is a blend of AP flour mixed with whole wheat and finely ground cornmeal. You could make it with just bread flour, but then you won't have the wonderful texture from the cornmeal. In Greece this bread is called 'Daktyla', or fingers. It is a tear apart bread, broken into fingers when eaten. It is particularly good spread with a soft yogurt cheese.

Here's What You'll Need:

2 tsp. dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/2  cups bread flour
2/3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup fine cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. milk (or soy milk) , plus extra to glaze
sesame seeds to decorate

Here's What You'll Need to Do:

1. Sprinkle the yeast into 1/2 cup of the water in a bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes; stir to dissolve. Mix the flours, cornmeal and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the dissolved yeast.

2. Use a wooden spoon to draw enough of the flour into the dissolved yeat to form a paste. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let the sponge sit to become frothy and slightly risen, about 20 minutes. Add the oil, honey and milk to the sponge.

3. Pour about half of the water into the well. Mix in the flour. Stir in the reserved water, as needed, to form a firm, moist dough.

4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured work surface. Knead until smooth, shiny and elastic, about 10 minutes.

5. Put the dough in a clean bowl and cover with a dish towel. Let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down, then let rest for about 10 minutes.

6. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Shape each piece into an oblong (like a finger); arrange them in a row, just touching, on a floured baking sheet. Cover with a dish towel and proof until doubled in size, about an hour.

7. Brush the top of the loaf with milk (or soy milk) and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
8. Bake in a preheated oven (350F/180C), for 45 minutes, until hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a rack.