Finger Pide

Tirnakli Pide

Let me say it again—pide bread is different from pita, which is a Greek term for the unleavened bread that wraps around kebaps (better known as lavaş in Turkish). In Istanbul, pide is a treat you enjoy for one month of the year—when you break your fast after sunset during the month of Ramadan. In lucky southeastern Anatolia they get to have pide all year round, because it’s their main form of bread. The cooks augment it with a coating of yoğurt, deposited on the top with dancing fingers, like concert pianists—hence the name ‘finger pide’. The accompaniments for pide are infinite—jam is only the beginning.

Ingredients

  • 3 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz/31/3 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 50 ml (12/3 fl oz) sunflower oil
  • ½ teaspoon mahlep powder ground white cherry seeds) (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 25 g (1 oz) plain yoğurt
  • 1 tablespoon nigella seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 50 g ( oz) wholemeal flour (if using a baking tray)

Method

Dissolve the yeast in a bowl with 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) of lukewarm water. Set aside for 5 minutes. It should start to form bubbles.

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl, make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast mixture. Add 375 ml (13 fl oz/ cups) of water, the sunflower oil and mahlep powder, and knead for 5 minutes to form a soft dough. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and rest in a warm place for 1 hour. The ball of dough should double in size.

Add the salt to the dough and knead for 3 minutes. Sprinkle the extra flour on your work surface. Divide the dough into five pieces and roll into balls. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to its maximum temperature (as close to 300°C/570°F as possible). If you have a pizza stone or unglazed terracotta tile, place it in the oven to heat.

Place one ball of dough on the work surface and, using floured hands or a rolling pin, flatten into a round about 10 cm (4 in) wide and 2 cm (¾ in) thick. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.

Mix the yoğurt and 25 ml (¾ fl oz) of water together in a bowl. Dunk both your hands in the mixture and then, using four fingers of each hand joined together, hop your fingertips across the dough vertically and then horizontally to make indentations across the top of each round. Dip your fingers into the yoğurt regularly to keep them wet.

Mix the nigella and sesame seeds together and sprinkle them evenly onto each round. Put the bread on the pizza stone or tile and place on the middle rack of the oven. If you don’t have a stone or tile, sprinkle the wholemeal flour on a baking tray lined with baking paper and place the rounds on the flour. Cook for 5 minutes at 300°C (570°F/ Gas 10+) (or 6 minutes at 250°C/500°F/Gas 9 or 7 minutes at 200°C/400°F/Gas 6) until brown on top and golden on the sides.

Serve warm as part of a breakfast spread.