The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hi everyone

  • Pin It
Lauria's picture
Lauria

Hi everyone

Hello everyone, I'm Laurie. I'm from the USA but I'm currently living with my husband and in-laws in Iraq. My sister-in-law makes flat bread every day (khubiz?) so I'll have to try to get pictures of that and a desciption for everyone. She's been baking in the morning lately and I tend to sleep in (they let me), so getting pics may take a few tries.

  MY baking record is mostly cake, cookies, pancakes, and muffins. I tried making bread twice. the first time I ended up with 4 or 6 (this was 3 or 4 years ago...) small round loves with hard crust and they were extra chewy. Tasty with butter though. Second try about a year and a half ago, I ended up with charcoal baugettes. I they burnt way before they were supposed to be done and I couldn't smell the smoke from the room I was in. The room-mate upstairs came down and told me. 

   Is there a mistake section I can show my well documented "albino sugar cookies"? 

Also, we don't have any scales or mesuring cups here, any suggestions in case I get brave enough to try making the english muffins before my husband and I can move to the US? 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Sounds like you got lots of basic problems to deal with....like a very hot oven and limited kitchen "toys."  

In order to follow a recipe, you may need to establish a few tools.  Find yourself a cup that you think is easy to imagine in increments (1/2  1/3 1/4 )  and a soupspoon (Tbsp) and a large coffee spoon (tsp).   I take it you also don't have any way of checking oven temperature.  If you're baking muffins, that would be the bread temperature. 

If you'd like to go with bread again, try mixing half of the flour with some water/yoghurt and a pinch of yeast and let sit covered overnight (or 8-12 hours)(called a poolish by the way, and it should be like thick pancake batter) before completing the dough in the morning with the rest ingredients.  This adds lots of flavor to your bread.  Time your bread to be baked after the other bread is done and the oven has a chance to cool off a bit...  And stay in the kitchen to watch your bread. 

I don't know if you can get ahold of any spices or seeds but it might be an interesting way to mix cultures by rolling small loaves in seasame, nuts or something similar. If your loaf starts to brown in the first 10 minutes, chances are the oven is too hot.   

English muffins is a good way to avoid the oven as they are stove top.  

Looking to hear from you (great that you have an internet connection!)

Mini O

Lauria's picture
Lauria

 Thank you. <3

  Actually, the cake/cookies/bread/etc were all made while I was living in the US.

      Here the only oven we have is my Sister-in-law's flat bread oven. The dough is flattened into a disk and slapped onto the inside of the hot oven with a mitt and when it's baked (2 or 3 minutes) she pulls it out by hand and tosses it on the finished pile. The oven is fuled by dried cow poo, because of the general lack of trees here. 

 A flatbread oven like my Sister-in-law hasan Iraqi flatbread oven: A flatbread oven like my Sister-in-law has

  So I was thinking english muffins because we do have gas stove tops. I'm not sure I can get baking powder as I have to ask the brothers-in-law for stuff from the market. No shopping for me for saftey reasons :-) 

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

Thanks for sharing the oven picture, it's very cool!  You might be able to improvise with an oven like that--if you could create a spot to set a baking sheet I'm sure it would work for cookies etc. too.  Is the fire in there when they bake, or do they pre-heat it and then bake afterwards?

I think english muffins is a great idea--and there's even a sourdough version posted on this site if you're interested in that (or if you can't get commercial yeast).  

There are so many great kinds of flatbreads, I'd also recommend absorbing what you can learn from the local bakers while you're there too! 

Lauria's picture
Lauria

They light the fuel first and start baking the bread when the flames die down. Kind of like for a barbecue grill. If I had a cookie sheet I'd have to set it on top of the hot coals.

  My Sister-in-law's recipe for the bread seems to be 1) a pile of flour 2) small handful of salt 3) some yeast 4) some warm water plus extra water to keep the dough from sticking to her hands while she kneads it.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I was suspecting this.... Nice to see the pictures and understand the baking method. Now, what are you going to do? You really have a lot to go on, all the essentials: flour, yeast, water, and salt, and an oven. I do hope you're learning the tecnique too even if you don't end up baking any loaves, you might get good at baking flat bread.

The dough sticks to the sides of the oven because it is wet when SiL is done shaping. Get her to teach you everything! You will have to adapt your dough to her method. Take notes on stiffness of bread during the process. How long or often she lets the dough rise or sit and how wet the dough surface is when it goes into the oven. And how long it bakes before it falls into the fire if not quick enough to remove it. In mixing, she most probably makes a well into the pile of flour and adds water there and mixes with her hands working in the surrounding flour, all on a level surface or large flat bowl.

If you want a loaf... One method for baking in campfires could be useful. The coals could be swept to one side, a pan set into the now empty hot fire spot, shaped dough placed inside, covered and hot coals raked over the lid of the pan. Don't know if you can find such a pan, best would be a heavy metal. Maybe inverting a larger pan over a smaller one might work.  Preheating the pans might also be a good idea.

Mini O