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Greek Bread - Improved

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dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Greek Bread - Improved

A couple weeks ago, I made Greek bread (Horiatiko Psomi) for the first time (See: Greek Bread - I finally make it with my Greek daughter-in-law). I based it on this recipe, which my Greek daughter-in-law said seemed closest to the bread she had had in Greece. It was good, but I felt it could be improved. I had intended to make the bread with some durum flour, but forgot to use it. Although everyone enjoyed the bread, I felt the crumb suffered from slight under-development of the gluten. Everything I'd heard or read said this was supposed to be a dense bread, but I felt it would be better, even if less authentic, with a more aerated crumb.


Today, I made another batch. I remembered to use some durum flour this time. I used a combination of mechanical mixing and stretch and fold to develop the gluten. I had planned on making it as a sourdough, but, because of time constraints, I did spike it with some instant yeast. I think it turned out well.



Horiatiko Psomi (pronounced hoh-ree-AH-tee-koh psoh-MEE)


 


Liquid levain

 

Ingredients

Amounts

Mature sourdough starter

28 gms (2 T)

Bread flour

85 gms

Water

113 gms

 

Final Dough

 

Ingredients

Amounts

Durum flour

200 gms

Bread flour

775 gms

Water

600 gms

Milk

2 T

Olive oil

2 T

Honey

2 T

Salt

1 T

Levain

All of above

Instant yeast (optional)

½ tsp

Sesame seeds

About 1 T

 

Method

  1. To make the liquid levain, in a medium bowl, dissolve the mature starter in the water. Add the flour and mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl tightly and ferment at room temperature for 8-12 hours.

  2. To make the final dough, mix the water, instant yeast (if used), milk, oil, honey and levain in the bowl of a stand mixer.

  3. Mix the salt with the flour and add 2/3 of it to the liquids. Mix until smooth. Add the rest of the flour and mix to a shaggy mass. Cover and allow to rest for 20-60 minutes.

  4. Mix at 2nd speed until you have an early window pane. (About 4-6 minutes in a Bosch Universal Plus mixer.)

  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board and do one stretch and fold. Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Roll the dough in the oil. Cover the bowl.

  6. Ferment the dough until doubled in bulk with one stretch and fold after an hour. (About 2-2 ½ hours)

  7. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and pre-shape as balls.

  8. Cover the pieces and let them rest to relax the gluten for 10-15 minutes.

  9. Shape the pieces into boules and place them in floured bannetons.

  10. Proof the boules until they have expanded to 1.5-1.75 times their original size.

  11. 45-60 minutes before baking, pre-heat the oven to 500ºF with a baking stone and your steaming method of choice in place.

  12. Pre-steam the oven.

  13. Transfer the loaves to a peel or to parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Brush the loaves with water and sprinkle them with sesame seeds. Score the loaves with 3 parallel cuts about ½ inch deep.

  14. Transfer the loaves to the baking stone. Immediately steam the oven. Close the oven door, and turn the temperature down to 450ºF.

  15. After 12 minutes, remove the steam source. Continue baking for another 20-25 minutes. Check the loaves every so often, and, if they appear to be darkening too fast, turn the over down to 430-440ºF. (Note: I did not turn the oven down from 450ºF, and the loaves turned out a bit darker than I wanted.)

  16. The loaves are done when the bottom sounds hollow when thumped and their internal temperature is 205ºF.

  17. When the loaves are done, turn off the oven but leave the loaves on the stone with the oven door ajar for 10 minutes to dry the crust.

  18. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack.

  19. Cool thoroughly before slicing and serving.

As noted above, the breads turned out a bit darker than I had wished. Next time, I'll bake at a lower temperature or turn the oven down a bit half way through the bake.

The crust was thin and chewy with a nice flavor from the sesame seeds. The crumb was quite open, considering the low hydration. It was very pleasantly chewy but did not have a dense mouth feel. The flavor was marvelous! It had a mildly sweet flavor from the honey and nuttiness from the durum flour.

I'm not sure I'd change anything, other than baking at a lower temperature and having my daughter-in-law here to tell me how far I'd strayed from Greek authenticity.

David

Submitted to YeastSpotting.

Comments

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I'm prejudical for a bold colored crust and think it's a gorgeous color David.  


What a beautiful contrast between crust and crumb!


Is it the Durum flour that gives the bread its regionality, or the combination of the other ingredients?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The crust was darker than the photos show, especially on the loaf that was loaded first. Some of it actually had a burned caramel flavor (bitter).


From various descriptions I've had of Greek homemade bread, it is a low hydration bread (dense crumb). It is chewy. The crumb has a yellow color. I've read descriptions of the flour used, and it is almost certainly durum, at least in part. I think it probably uses more durum than I did. Maybe 100%, even. It is often sweetened. Honey is typical. It often, if not always, has olive oil. I don't know how common adding milk is. 


So, I think its "regionality" stems from the combination of ingredients.


The article in about.com from which I took off has a photo of a bread, and I used that as the model for my shaping and scoring. I have read descriptions of every day Greek breads made in more of a torpedo shape.


Of course, there are many types of Greek bread, including special, more enriched ones associated with religious holidays. I assume there are also regional differences, as exist in every other country. I don't know if the bread I made would be recognized as more typical of a particular region of Greece by some one in the know.


I guess I'm going to have go to Greece to find out for myself. :-)


In any case, this is a delicious bread. I'll be continuing to make it.


David

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Very beautiful crumb and nice write-up for your recipe.  I  like the open crumb and the addition of the levain and also think it's a very nice improvement.  Did you chose the liquid levain over a biga naturale to keep the flavor sweeter and milder so it would be more like the  recipe your daughter n law made? I don't think you strayed at all from this being a Greek bread.    http://www.chalkidikiflourmills.com.  click on duram and duram wheat flours.  Sorry I can't fix this link.  If I type it in then it works!  Some nice Greek breads w/formulas.  Maybe someone can link it?  Beautifully done!


Sylvia  

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The recipe I started with gave an option to make  a sourdough version. The levain in the recipe was liquid.


Thanks for the link. I'll check it out.


(Added:) I was able to find the right link via Google. The only recipes I found were for sweet breads and muffins, though. None for breads.


David

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

duram flours, second on list.  Just a couple of Greek country bread recipes with sourdough, soft wheat, duram and whole wheat. (added) some interesting history on Greek country bread. 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Found 'em. Thanks, Sylvia.


David

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Very pretty loaves, David! The crumb looks perfectly developed and creamy. I guess the milk and honey enhance crust colour, so if you think they're too dark, turning the oven down after the initial oven spring would be good way to go, I think.


What do you think about adding a whole-grain soaker for your next batch? I bet some flaxseeds, a bit of polenta and sesame seeds could compliment the taste well!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I'm thinking about adding more durum. From reading Greek baking information on the web, I get the impression cornmeal is used in some Greek breads. Sesame seeds are definitely used, but on the crust only, as far as I've seen so far.


I also have the impression that, until recently, only whole grain flours were used in village baking in Greece, so I might try some whole wheat. Greek honey whole wheat. Why not?


In sum, I have a strong suspicion that the bread I made, although delicious to my taste, is way too refined to be an authentic Horiatiko Psomi, or "village bread." Would one make a Bauerenbrot with all AP flour? Not likely. It would be something else.


David

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

David, you mentioned that you'd like to visit Greece with your extended family. Who knows, in two years' time, you might've opened your first Lambda-Kappa-Snyder bakery in a northern Greek village :)

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Hi David.


As alluded to in my comment on your first Greek bread post, I spent a while travelling in Greece (Athens and other parts of the mainland, Paros, Crete) during two stints - in early and mid 80s respectively.


That's long ago now, but I still recall the bread, as it was distinctly different from anything I had experienced to that point (I'm one of those people who's always focused on food, and particulary bread for some reason...like other food tragics probably, I can easily recall various standout meals from decades ago, while struggling to remember things that most would consider far more important!). Anyway...


I spent no time in local homes, unfortunately, so can't comment on home-baked Greek bread. I can say that the bread that was served with my daily fixes of Greek salad and other meals was pretty similar everywhere I went. It was, as your research indicates, quite a dense bread. The slices were heavy to pick up. However, the crumb was not very open (I didn't know the term 'crumb' then...I would have referred to it as 'texture', I suppose - must dust off my diaries of the time). Not soft or fluffy in texture - tending chewy, in fact. I didn't know about sourdough then, but superimposing my recollection of the texture on my current knowledge, I think there's a strong probability that it was naturally leavened.


I do recall that there were never any sesame or other seeds on the crusts, which were usually darkish brown, pretty much like yours, rather than golden. And the colour of the crumb was white, tending greyish - that might suggest that neither semolina nor durum flour were present in the dough.


Can't swear to this, but I don't think the flavour was at all sweet, either.


There must be a good chance of a comment coming in from an indigenous Greek TFL member. Hope so. Would be interesting to see what they say.


Whatever the situation re authenticity, looks like another fine bread, and your appraisal of the flavour has prompted me to push it towards the front of my ever-expanding must-bake queue.


Cheers
Ross

ques2008's picture
ques2008

I'll add that recipe to my "dmsnyder folder" which I just opened after filing away your recipe index.  I often shop at a Greek store; my next door neighbor is Greek and her parents feed me with lots of Greek goodies during the holidays.  one day i'll make your bread and surprise them.


if you ever go to Greece again for holidays, send us some pics of the breads you eat (or bake) over there!


thanks for sharing this recipe. 


tell me, david, have you ever heard of medeira rolls?  In the Greek supermarket I go to, they sell them - they're huge, very airy and light - roundish but not a perfect round as in a roll.  Are they Greek in origin or are they Portuguese?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

If you get any interesting new information about Horiatoki Psomi from your neighbor or your Greek store, please share it.


I've not heard of "medeira rolls."


Greek cooking (as well as Italian cooking) was heavily influenced by the Jews who immigrated to there in 1492, when they were expelled from Spain and Portugal. Several "typical" Greek dishes actually are Iberian in origin, perhaps including those rolls. Just speculating.


David

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I appreciate your sharing your memories.


From your description of the bread, I would surmise it was:


1. Low hydration (thus dense).


2. Probably had olive oil in the dough. (From the dark crust. Also, makes the dough seem heavier.)


3. Had little or no honey/sugar (Not sweet).


4. Used most white flour but "greyish" crumb suggests a high extraction flour or some WW added to mostly white flour.


BTW, the sweetness in my bread was subtle. I used clover honey which is very mild. It certainly didn't strike me as a "sweet bread." 


David

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Good detective work, David! This is itching at me now. I've PMed a Greek member of another forum. Will get back if he replies and is able to provide some clarification on the formula of 'typical' Greek bread.


Cheers
Ross

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Of course, deductive reasoning is no substitute for data, so I'm staying tuned. :-)



David

jacobsbrook's picture
jacobsbrook

Another masterpiece...  Your baking talents are inspiring.  I only hope to one day be able to master formulas half as well.  Thanks again.

ques2008's picture
ques2008

i'll ask my neighbor about that bread, david. shall keep you in the loop.


yes, your speculation may be justified.  perhaps medeira rolls aren't 100% greek and may have been "adulterated" by regional taste and variations.


 

MC's picture
MC

...my days spent in Greece being a little bit too far in the past, unfortunately, but I greatly admire your shaping, which makes for very harmonious loaves, as well as the rich color of the crust and the beautiful crumb. Makes me want to go back!
I'll be curious to see the whole-wheat honey loaves if you ever make them.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

When I make this bread with whole wheat, you will certainly see it here!


David

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

David, I have been in contact with the Greek guy I mentioned. Here's the gist of his response:


He thinks the bread I had as described above was the commercial version of traditional Greek sourdough as his Grandma bakes it. Because of the greyness of the crumb, he suspects - as you suggested - that a small proportion of wholemeal flour would have been included in the mix, but that the bulk of the dough would have comprised AP flour. Essentially, his Grandma's bread is a typical pain au levain, the only difference being that it has fork pricks in the crust (aesthetic function only - the bread has a good rise, not flattish) and that the loaves are traditionally huge (several kilos). Usually baked in a wood-fired oven, which lends a smoky flavour he finds delicious.


He was adamant that no sugar or honey is ever used, and added that olive oil may be added, but that this is not so common - his Grandma never uses anything but AP flour, salt and water. Starter is very high hydration (he thinks well over 100%) and makes up about a third of the dough.


Cheers!
Ross


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

This supports my notion that Greek bread has as much variation as that from any other country. 


I guess if pain au levain is made in Greece by a Greek grandmother it is "Greek  bread." 


I've read that, traditionally, Greek ovens are fired with olive wood. That must give a really hot fire and a special flavor to the bread.


David

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Forgot to mention the process, which is as follows:

The starter is fed and left to develop overnight. In the morning, the dough is initially mixed without the salt until it is kneadable, then is kneaded with fists (but not punched down). Salt is added bit by bit during the kneading. The dough is not a wet one, and the kneading continues only until medium gluten development. Then the dough is put in a large, oiled, round tin and left to prove (about 3 or 4 hours). Finally - into the oven at 190-200C for about an hour. Simple process, and gorgeous bread, apparently - so delicious, according to my source, that it is often eaten without any accompaniment. He says this is the bread that is commonly eaten all over Greece, but as you say, there are other varieties - some of which he says he now prefers.


Cheers!
Ross


PS: Yes, fired wood from olive trees would add something special to the flavour of the bread I imagine - and it's a romantic thought in any case!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Ross.


Hmmm ... If I read it correctly, there is no bulk fermentation. The bread goes from knead directly to proofing. I gather it's baked as a round loaf.


If you have an opportunity to ask, I'd be curious as to from where in Greece your "Greek guy" comes.


David

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

I was wondering about that no bulk proof thing, and now that you've brought it up, David, I'll get verification on that. I'll ask about the locale while I'm at it. And yes, it is baked as a large round loaf.

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

OK, verified - there is no bulk proof! And this, I am assured, is the bread-making tradition practised by "many grandmothers" in the villages in the mountainous Epirus area of Greece. All very interesting!

Nathan's picture
Nathan

Now you've got me curious. I'm going to try find more out about Greek breads from a friend of mine. I'll let you know what I find out.


As for the lack of bulk fermentation, perhaps the autolyse and kneading is drawn out and that's why only an extended final proof is done. Another possibility is there are relatively warm/hot temperatures where the bread is made. Just thinking out loud here.


Anyway, great job and thanks for the nice post.


Nathan

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Hi Nathan,


Epirus is a mountainous region in the north-west of Greece - the temperatures are cooler there than in most of the rest of the country.


Will be watching on with interest for whatever info you get from your friend. My bet is that David's observation that many variations are likely in bread making in Greece as in many other countries will be borne out...


Cheers
Ross

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Looking forward to any more info you can get.


David

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I'm going to try this formula this weekend.  But I wonder... if a lawyer bakes this bread, would it be called Pso-sue-mi?


I like this bread and I'm Pso looking forward to baking it myself.


Glenn

breadsong's picture
breadsong

...after reading Eric's post today and reference to your formula.
I've saved this post to my favorites - thanks for sharing how to make this beautiful bread - your loaves look wonderfully good.
from breadsong