Koulouria tis Folegandros

Bread Rings from Folegandros

THE DOUGH for these crunchy bread rings is enriched with olive oil. In Kythera, the same dough is shaped into a loaf and deeply slashed before baking; the slices are then taken apart and baked again, until completely dry, to become the famous savory olive oil biscuits of the island.

Serve these with cheese or spreads, such as Blue Cheese and Tomato or Eggplant and Parsley. They’re also fine on their own, as a snack.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
  • ½ recipe Old Dough Starter
  • 3½–4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • ½ cup olive oil or ¼ cup olive oil plus ¼ cup safflower oil
  • About cup cold water
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup sesame seeds

Method

In a small bowl, combine the warm water and yeast and let stand for 5 minutes, or until frothy.

Place the starter in a food processor, add 3½ cups flour, salt, oil and the yeast mixture and pulse a few times. With the motor running, pour in ½ cup cold water to make a soft, sticky dough. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

Process the dough for 1 to 2 minutes more, or until slightly sticky and elastic (add a little water if the dough is too stiff).

Lightly oil a large bowl and a piece of plastic wrap. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly, adding a little more flour as needed until the dough is soft and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to the oiled bowl. Cover with the oiled plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume, 2 to 3 hours.

Lightly oil 3 or 4 baking sheets. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 4 pieces. Cut each piece into quarters. Work with 1 piece of dough at a time, keeping the re maining dough covered. Roll 1 of the pieces under your palms into a 24-inch-long rope. Press the ends together to form a ring. Transfer to an oiled baking sheet. Continue forming rings with the rest of the dough, placing them at least ½ inch apart on the baking sheets. Brush with the egg white and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Let rise for 30 minutes.

At least 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F.

Bake the rings in two batches for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F and bake for 15 minutes more, or until light golden on top. Wearing oven mitts and using a spatula, carefully remove the bread rings from the baking sheets and place them directly on the oven racks. Reduce the oven temperature to 200°F and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, or until the bread rings are completely dry.

Transfer to racks and let cool completely. They keep for at least 3 months in a tightly covered tin.

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