Country Bread

Psomi Horiatico

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    One

    8 inch round bread

Appears in

Horiatico is usually made with a combination of wheat and barley flour. Bread called horiatico can be found in bakeries all over the country, in many different varieties: with whole wheat flour, sometimes with a little cornmeal, which makes it yellow; with or without sesame seeds; and so forth. This bread is supposed to imitate the homemade bread still found in many villages, but the taste and texture of the store-bought version is completely different.

The homemade version, which is always made with a sourdough starter, is heavier and more moist, usually scented with aniseed to balance the sourness of the dough. Its crumb is as tasty as its crust, unlike the commercial product. This homemade bread keeps well for three to five days, even for a week, and it is fabulous when toasted.

The recipe was given to me by Sofia Kapetanakou, who comes from the western Peloponnese. Although Sofia has lived in Athens for more than twenty years, she still bakes bread every week because neither she nor her husband nor their 17-year-old son will eat the tasteless commercial variety.

If you can, bake the bread in clay pans. If you don’t want to use sourdough starter, substitute active dry yeast; see Note.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup Sourdough Starter
  • 2-2½ cups warm water
  • 3½-4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole barley flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon aniseed, ground in a mortar
  • 1 teaspoon powdered mahlep
  • Olive oil, for brushing the pans

Method

The night before you plan to bake, mix the starter with 1 cup warm water and cups all-purpose flour and set aside, covered, in a warm place. The mixture will be light and frothy the next morning.

Warm a large bowl, then add the remaining flours, cornmeal, salt, aniseed, and mahlep. Make a well in the center and pour in the starter batter and warm water.

Start bringing flour toward the center until mixed with the liquids. Start kneading, sprinkling the dough with flour if it is too sticky, or wetting your hands with warm water if it is too hard and dry. The whole wheat and barley flours make this dough a little sticky at the beginning, so it needs a little more kneading than ordinary bread dough. After working it for 10 to 15 minutes, the dough becomes smooth and shiny. (The mixture can also easily be worked with a hand-held mixer equipped with a dough hook.)

Cut off one-third of the dough with a knife and shape it into a ball. Place in a well-oiled 8-inch round pan. With the remaining dough, form a loaf and place in a well-oiled 9-inch loaf pan. Brush breads with olive oil, cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1½ hours.

Remove plastic wrap and increase oven temperature to 375° F. Bake loaves for 50 minutes, or until lightly golden on top. Invert pans and remove breads. Return to the oven, bottom sides up, and bake another 5 minutes, or until golden and hollow-sounding when tapped. Let cool on a rack.