Armenia via Vienna – An Attempt at Peda Bread
This episode in my baking story starts with lamb. We received a shipment of lamb meat yesterday from a ranch in the Sierra foothills that supplies several of the finest restaurants in the Bay Area. We got some chops and some stew meat (roughly 2 inch pieces of leg meat). I planned to make shish kebab today, even though the bizarre June rain threatened to snuff out my barbecue.
Shish kebab (lamb marinated in red wine, olive oil, onion and garlic and char-broiled on skewers with bell peppers and onions) is a dish that brings back fond food memories of my childhood in Fresno, a city with a very large Armenian population and excellent Armenian restaurants (at least back then).
One of our family’s favorite restaurants used to serve a shish kebab sandwich on peda bread, a round low profile soft sandwich bun with sesame seeds. I believe the Armenian bakery that made that peda bread (Hy-Quality Bakery) is still in business.
I have tried before to make buns that resemble peda bread, but not with much success. With shish kebab on the menu, I needed to try again to replicate peda bread. The closest bread I’d made in texture and flavor was Reinhart’s Vienna Bread from BBA. So today I tried a variation on that Vienna Bread. I followed his formula, but divided part of the dough into 5 ounce pieces and squashed them down fairly thin before proofing them. When they were ready to bake, I slathered them with an egg wash and sprinkled sesame seeds on them.
These buns are both delicious and pretty darn close to peda bread.
I also made a batard from this dough, also sprinkled with sesame seeds.
To make these buns even more authentically like the bread served on the shish kebab sandwiches of my childhood memory, I split and grilled them with a bit of butter, giving them a wonderful crispiness.
By the way, this lamb is about the best I’ve ever had. And the meal brought back fond memories.
Who knew the Viennese and the Armenians were so close?