Bread gives joy in every form, sweet or salty, wheat or non-wheat, with yeast or soda… It’s been an important part of our lives for centuries, as bread is one of the first prepared foods by humans. Baking bread comes with even bigger joy. When we put ingredients together with patience, apply all the necessary process, wait minute after minute with patience, at the end, we end up with this warm miracle that not only smells great, but also creates a feeling of ‘being home’ no matter where we are.
Bread is probably one of the most universal food items that belongs to many different cuisines in different types. Take your baguette in Paris, a bag full of hallulla in Santiago, a piece of rye bread in Berlin or some corn bread in Trabzon… Strong traditions are built in the bakeries and at homes, as it’s possible to find a different bread in each country, even in each city.
As we all know, this is not a very convenient time to travel abroad to try local food, but I found some alternative ways to discover new and different flavors. I tried twelve different recipes of bread from different countries, and baked them at home. Obviously nothing can be better than eating local food in its place of origin, but being able to taste them at the comfort of our homes is also a great way. Here are the breads that I baked for this travel:
Hallulla is a round shaped flat round bread. The impression that I had in Chile was that people were eating this bread with almost any meal, but mostly for breakfast or for once – a light dinner/tea time in Chile, with bread, pastries, avocado, cheese, jam and more.
Baking them home was more difficult than I thought. Apart from the main ingredients of flour, water and yeast, hallulas also need some butter and a lot of work. I kneaded the dough very well, and let it ferment for a while before I shape them. For shaping these, I used a roller to stretch the dough, and once it had a thickness of around five centimeters, I used a plate to cut them in circles. A couple of holes with a fork were enough to prevent them from rising. Once it’s done, they only bake for twenty minutes in the oven. They came out of the oven with an amazing smell. They were quite crispy outside with a thin, soft layer inside. It’s worth all the hard work.
Marraquetas, also known as pan francés (French bread), were quite popular in Chile. It’s a type of a roll with its distinct shape, almost like a four-leaf clover.
When it came to baking it at home, it needed a little bit more work to make marraquetas compared to hallulas. It has only three basic ingredients, flour, water and yeast. After mixing these ingredients, I kneaded the dough for a good fifteen minutes. Then it had three different waiting periods, to shape them as balls, bring them together and mark them for giving the special shape. The final touch was brushing them with some oil, before their journey directly to the oven. After twenty minutes in the oven they were ready. It was almost like the ones that I had in Chile, and I enjoyed it at once, simply with some avocado and salt on top.
3) Ramazan pidesi
Ramazan pidesi translates as Pita of Ramadan. A classic type of bread that is tradition in Turkey to be baked during the month of Ramadan. Most of the kids in Turkey would have a similar experience with this bread: The parents would send out the kids to the bakery to buy pita. I remember waiting on the bakery line until the pita was out of the stone oven, grabbing a pita wrapped in paper so it wouldn’t burn my hands, taking a bite from its corner and burning my mouth, walking fast back to home so the pita would be still warm.
I never thought I’d make this at home, since it has always been something that we bought from the bakery. That’s why it was an interesting experience for me. I tried two different recipes, the first one was a giant pita that was raised very well. The result really had the flavour of my childhood, I went back fifteen years by taking a bite of this pita. While it was still warm, I put some butter and cheese in it, as my mother used to do, let them melt a little bit before eating. The risk of eating half of it at one sitting is still valid.
Focaccia is a flat bread, but it can also be served as an appetizer itself with all the delicious toppings it has. The options for toppings are all the Italian delicacies that one has available: tomato, cheese, olive, basil, rosemary…
Since it’s difficult to decide which toppings to choose, I divided mine in two: one side with basil and tomato and other side with olives and rosemary. Of course both sides have godsend olive oil and sea salt. It’s a good option for charcuterie boards, or as a snack to accompany a glass of wine.
Ciabatta is an Italian loaf of bread, which has a very soft texture with many air bubbles inside. Outside is covered with semolina flour, this gives this bread its special look. Along with flour, water and yeast, it also has some olive oil. It’s a very good option for everyday bread, easy to make and eat.
The making of it was quite difficult in the beginning. The wet dough was sticking all around. But with practice it got better and better, now I know how to manage this wet dough and the results clearly show my know-how. A slice of my ciabatta is enough to make someone happy in seconds.
Shokupan is a delicious Japanese milk bread. A special mixture of hot water and flour, tangzhong, is what makes this bread fluffy as a cloud.
Preparation of tangzhong was quite technical, I used a flour to water ratio of one to five, whisk them well and heated them constantly, stirring at low heat for five minutes until it started to look like glue. Once that’s ready, I wait until it cools down before adding to the rest of the ingredients; more flour, yeast, milk, butter, salt and sugar. All these contributed to the cotton-like texture. It’s a perfect bread for breakfast or tea time with more butter and jam on top.
From Jewish cuisine
A special bread from Jewish cuisine, prepared and consumed for ceremonial occasions such as Shabbat and major Jewish holidays. It’s usually braided, and there are some incredible techniques of braiding in Challah bread, it’s a form of art. It’s a rich bread with extra ingredients such as eggs, butter, sugar and milk.
In the course of making, I had to go step by step and watch very carefully every move for braiding. I’m actually quite good with braiding (my hair, though), so to make it a little bit more challenging I tried the four strands. After a couple of back and forths, the results were successful. It looks so beautiful with its particular shape, the egg wash on top gives a brown, shiny and attractive color. The bread itself is tasty, soft and airy. It’s a nice bread to eat for tea time, with some toppings such as butter and jam, or even on its own.
8) English muffins
English muffins are small flat buns that are a great choice for breakfast, or a small sandwich snack. Here in Canada, they are super easy to find at stores with many different types, so I became a frequent consumer of these small muffins.
So easy to buy from the store, but not that easy to make at home. These muffins need pre-cooking on the pan, before they go into the oven. This gives them the darker color on the top and bottom, and it also flattens them in. That’s the only difficult part actually, the rest was just waiting for them to come out of the oven. I highly suggest them with poached egg on top for weekend breakfasts.
Around the world
9) Hamburger buns
Best friend of hamburger patties.
Once it comes to the making, I ended up making giant hamburger buns. It was actually not my intention to make them so big, but I couldn’t foresee how much they could grow. Once they entered the oven, they kept growing until they touched each other and formed a lovely flower of buns. Making them by myself really upped the game of home-made hamburgers.
10) Pink bread (with beetroots)
A bread for pink lovers.
I was thinking: “What can be better than adding an extra color to my bread with a natural ingredient? And if that color is pink, that’s even better!” This is a part of my “beetroot” trials, I was curious if the beetroot could color a bread, and the answer is, yes. I am quite satisfied with the outer color of the bread, which is a nice pink, inside was a little bit more brownish, because I used half part of the whole flour. Beets not only give color to this bread, but also some sweetness. Overall, it’s a nice looking and nutritious bread that goes well with both sweet and savory toppings.
11) Rye bread
With its high fiber and low gluten content, rye is one of the most popular flour for bread making. It’s usually used together with other types of flour for softer texture breads. It also gives very good results when making soda bread.
12) Over-night white flour bread
This bread requires minimum effort and attention with very fulfilling results.
The most difficult part of preparing this bread is to remind yourself to mix the ingredients a night before. Flour, salt, yeast and cold water are roughly stirred without any kneading involved. It sits overnight in the refrigerator for a slow fermentation. The other day, it comes out from the fridge until it comes to room temperature and goes directly to the oven. For a thin and crunchy crust, a cup of water accompanies the bread on the side while in the oven. The result is a delicious bread with nice aromas and lots of air bubbles coming from the slow fermentation.
Hallulla and marraqueta from Chile, ramazan pidesi from Turkey, focaccia and ciabatta from Italy, shokupan from Japan, challah from Jewish cuisine, english muffins from England and hamburger buns, pink bread, rye bread and over-night while flour bread from around the world were my twelve destinations in this post. They were all fun to bake, they reminded me of lots of memories or created new ones. I hope some of these breads inspire you next time you are baking bread.
All images © 2021 by Neslihan IVIT. All rights reserved.
Categories: Wine & Food
What beautiful breads you have created! Love the project during these unusual times!