4 February 2012

Bread from Caucasus

While I was a housewife in 2010, I followed several blogs and gathered quite a lot of interesting recipes. More than I have had time to try out.


One of these comes from TheFreshLoaf and is a bread recipe from the Caucasus. The photo there looked so pretty and the technique seemed quite intriguing, I'd even gone to Borough Market to get hold of Sumac, a spice I'd never heard of before.

I haven't baked for some time (it took forever to eat all the cupcakes!), so I thought I'd finally try making this fascinating bread.

Despite relatively thorough preparations, it turned out that I didn't have all the listed ingredients and had to improvise.


600 g strong white flour
14 g instant yeast
10 g granulated sugar
10 g salt
0.5 dl vegetable oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
3 dl water
140 g red pesto
olive oil

  1. Put all the dry ingredients in the bowl of the mixer.

  2. Mix together well, then pour in the oil and the vinegar and the water and continue mixing until a supple, non-sticky dough forms. If it feels a bit stiff, add a bit more water, if too soft, add a little more flour.

  3. Cover the bowl and set to rise in a warm place until double in size.

  4. In the mean time, cut out a rough circle, slightly larger than your springform, then fit onto the bottom part and clip into the other. Brush the sides and bottom with olive oil.
    IMG_1426 IMG_1427

  5. Flour your work surface and your rolling pin and take out the dough.

  6. Flatten it out and start rolling to a sheet, as thin as possible and into a rectangular shape, I managed to get it about 3-4 mm.

  7. Spread a thin layer of the pesto, leaving the outer 1 - 1.5 cm, then sprinkle a little sumac all over.

  8. Carefully roll up along one of the long sides, as tightly as possible.

  9. Then cut lengthwise through the middle of the roll, using a sharp, non-serrated knife. Do not saw with the knife. It should be two very long roll halves.

  10. Place the two halves so that they form an X and with the cut surface upwards.

  11. Braid the two parts together by taking the two bottom ones and crossing over the top ones. Twist so that the cut surface always remains upwards as you go along.

  12. Tuck in the ends when done, or pinch together.You should now have a rope-like thing.
    IMG_1428 IMG_1429

  13. Now starting with the thinner end of the dough, roll it carefully sideways into a spiral, like a huge cinnamon bun.

  14. Carefully transfer the bread to the springform and let proof.

  15. Pre-heat the oven to 210 degrees C.

  16. Brush with some more olive oil and sprinkle with more sumac on top.

  17. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes, then turn down the heat to 180 degrees and let bake for a further 30 - 40 minutes until done. If it goes dark on the top, place a sheet of baking paper to prevent it from burning.

Although my roll was fairly long, it appears it wasn't long enough and I need to practice the braiding and see if I can work out a different way of doing it that will give a more attractive result. There was no way I could bend it into a spiral shape, let alone getting it to fit into the springform in any way at all, but anyway, I continued.

I let it cool on a wire rack after it had finished baking and it still didn't look very appealing. My Mum thought it looked like a kozunak,
the way they sometimes do them in Bulgaria. Except that this was far from sweet.

But when I cut it open, it looked like this


and I was kind of sold on it. So pretty!

Taste-wise it was quite OK, there seemed to be a persistent smell of vinegar around it, and sumac also having a sour flavour, maybe that added to the whole, but it wasn't obvious in the taste, just the smell.

I'll try this again sometime, but with traditional pesto and make sure to roll even longer, so I get a nice braid.

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