Baking & Dessert

By Lindsay Hunt | November 10, 2010

Photo: Lindsay Hunt

I’m happy to announce our new Baking Around the Globe column written by Lindsay Hunt, here at marcussamuelsson.com.  She will be sharing her experiences learning how to bake from different countries in a weekly column.

During high school, Lindsay spent a year in Rennes, France, where she developed a deep love for crusty French baguettes and flaky croissants.

Now, Lindsay lives in New York City.  Baking is a great way to travel via the kitchen, and she looks forward to sharing her favorite recipes from many countries.  In this column she’ll explore baking from around the world, from desserts to traditional breads.  Each week she will publish a recipe from a new country, with baking tips and photos for you get a taste of baking from around the globe at home.

Read her first column:

Photo: Lindsay Hunt

I grew up baking American style desserts frequently.  I made Hershey’s chocolate cake for birthdays, my grandmother’s coffeecake for Christmas, and chocolate-chip cookies any chance I got.  Now, as I look to broaden my experience, I am excited to branch out to baking traditions from other countries.

One reason I hesitated to branch out was due to a fear of using yeast.  Despite a life-long affinity for leavened loaves, doughnuts, and cinnamon rolls, I have yet to achieve confidence with yeast.  It should be easy: warm the liquid, sprinkle the yeast, stir, and watch the foam!  And yet…. I’ve known it to fizzle and fail. This recipe’s instructions for the yeast are foolproof, so any other timid bakers out there will be pleased with the results!

This bread hails from the Armenian community in Syria, and was a great way to ease into bread baking and yeast using.

Instead of the mahleb spice suggested in the recipe, I substituted a mix of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and allspice.  If for no other reason, bake this bread just to smell its intoxicating scent as it bakes.

Enjoy fresh from the oven, buttered and with honey, or enjoy toasted with tea.  The light sweetness lends itself to any time of the day.

You will need a small saucepan, a medium-sized bread bowl, a rolling pin, one or two baking sheets, and a pastry brush.

Recipe from Flatbreads and Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

 

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp dry yeast
  • Approximately 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour(I used King Arthur Flour's whole-wheat white)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp mahleb(I substituted 1 combined teaspoon ground cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, allspice)
  • 1 eggbeaten with 1 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds

Directions

1. In a small saucepan, bring the milk just barely to a simmer. Pour into a medium-sized bowl, and add the honey and melted butter. Stir to dissolve the honey. Let cool to lukewarm (a splash or two feels just warm on your wrist.)

2. Stir the yeast into the milk mixture and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes to dissolve the yeast. Then stir in 2 cups flour. Stir in the same direction 100 times, about 1 minute, to develop the gluten, sprinkle the salt and mahleb over the dough, and stir in. Gradually stir in additional flour until a kneadable dough begins to form.

3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 6 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Clean out the bread bowl, lightly oil it, and return the bread to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until about 2 1/2 times its original size.

4. Gently punch down the dough. Divide it into 6 equal pieces. With the palm of your hand, flatten each piece on a well-floured surface. With a rolling pin, roll out each bread to around 6 inches in diameter. Arrange on one or two lightly oiled baking shets, cover, and let rise for 30 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

6. Just before placing the breads in the oven, use your middle and index fingers to make four "dimples" across each bread, the four more across these to form a cross. Make more dimples around the circumference of each bread, about 1/2-inch from the edge, to join the ends of the cross.

7. Brush each bread with the egg glaze, and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds on each. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. (If your baking sheets do not fit side by side in your oven, place on two racks near the center of your oven and switch baking sheets after about 7 minutes.)

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