Anglo-Syrian Bread

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

Appears in

Almost Vegetarian Cookbook

Almost Vegetarian Cookbook

By Josceline Dimbleby

Published 1999

  • About

As a child in Damascus, I remember the flat, unleavened bread being the best I have ever tasted. However, in a conventional loaf, I can incorporate many of the other ingredients and combinations which I started to love in those Middle Eastern days. This loaf, full of nuts, seeds and spices is a wonderful accompaniment to a salad lunch. Easy blend dried yeast makes bread-making simple enough even for inexperienced cooks. Shelled pistachio nuts are an excellent alternative to the walnuts.

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 50g (2oz) pine kernels
  • 500g (1 lb) strong plain white flour
  • 1 tablespoon crushed sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed roughly
  • 75g (3oz) sesame seeds
  • 75g (3oz) walnut pieces, ground roughly
  • Generous handful of mint leaves, chopped roughly
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 envelope easy blend yeast
  • 300 ml (½ pint) water

Method

Smear a 25 × 5cm (10 × 2-inch) circular earthenware dish or cake tin with olive oil. Put the chopped onion into a dry frying pan over a high heat and stir just to darken the pieces of onion. Then add all but one tablespoon of the pine kernels. Toss for a minute just until the kernels are browned and remove the pan from the heat. Put the flour and sea salt into a mixing bowl and stir together. Then stir in the cumin and coriander seeds, all but two teaspoons of the sesame seeds, the walnut pieces and the fried onion and pine kernels. Stir the chopped mint into the mixture. Stir in the olive oil, mix in the yeast and then gradually add the water, just until the mixture sticks together. Then gather up and knead the dough lightly on a floured surface for about five minutes. Put the dough into the oiled dish or tin. Cut a deep star in the top and scatter with the reserved unbrowned pine kernels and sesame seeds. Cover the dish or tin with a large plastic bag tucked in under the dish, trapping plenty of air and ballooning up above the dough. Leave the dish at room temperature for about two hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

Remove the plastic and place the loaf on the centre shelf of a preheated oven, Gas Mark 8/230°C/450°F, for 20 minutes; then turn down the heat to Gas Mark 6/200°C/400°F and leave the bread to bake for a further 20 minutes. Turn the loaf out of the dish and leave it to cool on a rack.