Bread, ekmek, is a major staple in Turkish cuisine and appears generously at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bread is treated with high respect and rarely wasted at home; stale bread is used in spreads, soups, and puddings. Traditional oval or round pide (pee-DEH) bread is a national favorite, traditionally cooked in hot clay oven, and is widely consumed when breaking the fast during Ramadan. Pide is a soft, porous, leavened bread that’s shaped by hand. Bakeries all over Turkey provide this Ramadan staple hot and fresh about an hour before evening prayer. Try thinly slicing, then toasting it and using it to scoop up dips and meze dishes.
Adapted from Istanbul, by Rebecca Seal
· 1 tablespoon active dried yeast
· 1 1/3 cups (12 fl. oz.) lukewarm water
· 1 tablespoon sugar
· 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
· 4 cups (1 lb. 2 oz.) white bread flour
· 1 tablespoon kosher salt
· 1 egg yolk
· ¼ cup (2 fl. oz) milk
· 2 tablespoons cornmeal or semolina
· 1 teaspoon nigella (black onion) seeds
· 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
In a small bowl, whisk together the yeast, water, sugar and olive oil. Set in a warm place for 10-15 minutes to activate the yeast. It should form a thick, frothy head.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Gradually add the yeast mixture using your hands, and knead the dough for 10 minutes. It will become stretchy, slightly glossy and pliable. Knead until any lumps disappear and the dough is smooth. (Alternatively, do this in a stand mixer.)
Place the dough in a clean oiled bowl covered with a damp cloth or with oiled plastic wrap. Put in a warm place for 1 hour to allow the dough to double. (It may take longer to double in size. When it has finished rising the dough will dent rather than spring back when you press it.)
Place the dough on a floured work surface. Flour your hands too as It will be quite sticky with a soft, stringy honeycomb texture inside. Pressing out the air from the dough with your knuckles and then divide it into 2 balls. Re-cover the balls and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
Preheat an oven to 475°F. Place 2 pizza stones or large, upturned baking trays in the oven to heat up. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and milk.
Flour the work surface and your hands again and firmly flatten each piece of dough into an oblong about 12 by 6 inches and about 1/2 inch thick ( flatten it properly, so it will rise evenly).
Sprinkle a pizza peel, or the back of a sheet pan, with cornmeal. Transfer 1 of the pieces of dough to the peel. Working quickly, dent the tops of the dough all over with your fingertips, then brush with the egg and milk glaze. Scatter half of the nigella and sesame seeds over each. Place in the oven on the pizza stone, and bake the bread until risen and golden all over, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve while still warm.