Finally some bread baking. I've had problems in the past few weeks in finding the right schedule and time to bake bread but I hope I'll be doing this a bit more often in the next weeks. Making bread has such a great relaxing power. Back to the bread. After my post on Eric Truille and Ursula Ferrigno's book Bread I decided to pick a few interesting recipes between those I hadn't tried out yet.
And here's the first "experiment": daktyla or Greek finger bread, or better my slight modified version of it. This is a rustic bread made from normal bread flour mixed with some cornmeal and some whole wheat flour. The bread turned out really nice, with a nice crust, moist and compact (but not heavy) crumb, slightly gritty from the cornmeal, nutty tasting with a slight corn aftertaste. From the aesthetic point of view, it didn't exactly look as it should have. One should be able to see some "space" between the fingers, as you can see from the two end-sections of the bread. The "fingers" stuck a bit too much to each other,
probably because I left them to proof with not enough space between each other.
To keep the Greek theme I made tsatsiki and one of my all-time favourites,Greek salad, to go with it. Tomato salad in winter is not what it would be with summer tomatoes (I usually don't even consider buying them between November and May) but I was lucky to find some acceptable Roma tomatoes to make the salad and so the end result wasn't too bad. Both went quite well with the bread, especially the "sauce" left from the salad. Don't you just love to mop up that stuff with some nice bread? ....sheesh, I must be the only person who matches his food to his bread and not the other way around!
So, for the bread:
350 g. Bread flour
75 g. whole wheat flour
75 g. coarse cornmeal (in the original recipe fine cornmeal, but I had none)
1 tsp active dry yeast (half as much as recommended)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs milk plus more fro brushing
sesame seeds for decorating
250-300 ml water (see below)
I first dissolved the yeast in a bit of water and then mixed all the dry ingredients together. Once the flour mixture looked uniform, with no patches of cornmeal or whole wheat flour I added the yeast, then oil, milk and honey and finally the water, gradually. I added enough water to get a soft-ish non-sticky dough, although that's a bit incorrect as dough with whole wheat flour tend to remain a bit sticky no matter how little water one adds. After kneading the dough for about 10-12 minutes, till the gluten had developed nicely.
The dough took about 2 1/2 hours to double. One could double the yeast and reduce the time but I find that gives a too yeasty taste to the final bread. For the shaping: I divided the dough in 6 equal pieces which I rolled and left to rest, ca. 10 minutes. I then shaped each into an oblong "finger", placing them in a row. Here I should have left a bit more space between them, just enough to let them touch, instead I pressed them a bit too close causing the fingers to remain stuck together during baking. The bread proofed 1 hour after which I brushed each finger with milk and sprinkled them with sesame seeds. The bread baked about 40-45 minutes the first 15 at 220C(430F) and then at 200C(400F). In the first ten minutes I sprayed the oven walls thrice with water to steam up and develop the crust.
As usual the hardest part was waiting for the bread too cool down. The thing that I liked about this bread, apart the very nice flavour, is that it keeps quite fresh for 2 days (could be longer but I ran out of...eh.. experimental material?). It also tastes great toasted. My toasting expert, Daniela, who would toast any bread at any time :-) forced me to try some... wow that was a nice surprise!
If there's any Greece expert or Greek reading, I'm sorry for eventual murderous changes I might have made to the bread, feel free to comment and point out my mistakes.