Persian Saffron Sourdough Bread
The Persians make an enriched flatbread that could be challah’s twin only flat instead of braided. Sweetener, oil or butter, milk, eggs and saffron. It is called Shirmall. The Iranians make all kinds of different breads with most of them the flat variety and they eat a lot of bread too…..if you have ever been there. Iran is also known for the best saffron in the world as well and..... I just love saffron.
I was lucky enough to go there to help build a new wing on the main hospital in Tehran while the Shah was still in power. It was a wonderful country where you could snow ski in the mountains in the morning and be on the beach in the sand and surf in the afternoon just like Beirut – the pearl of the Middle East. The food was especially fantastic.
For us bread makers, Khorasan or Kamut is the famous grain of what is modern day Iran but it is much older, a natural hybrid of durum and another local grass; polonicum, long ago. We know this due to modern DNA testing but many still refer to Khorasan as an ancient grain which is fine by me. It is old.
My daughter works with a fine doctor from Iran where they try to do their best to help cure colon cancers through surgery and chemo. The kind doctor was gracious enough to give me a big beautiful batch of the best Iranian saffron that her mother brought to her when visiting not long ago. My daughter was bragging about her dad the closet chef. and poof ....Saffron arrives:-) She needs to brag more often!
She has been so kind to my daughter and teaching her everything she needs to be a great surgical PA. Being a teacher requires the greatest, but hardest, character attribute to have and hold dear – generosity. I thought it was past due for me to give her a loaf of bread in appreciation. I would have made Shirmall but I’m sure she has had that many times, and mine would not be as good, so I decided to give her a bread she has likely not had before and neither have I – Persian Saffron Sourdough with Khorasan of course.
I’m not sure that SD is used much in Iran and SD is not a sweet bread but I hope she likes it. It turned out beautiful and the color of the crust was tinged yellow from the saffron and the crumb had to be as well from the Kamut and saffron. It smelled wonderful when the lid came off the Combo Cooker.
It sprang and bloomed well with some small blisters and browned up beautifully. An update...the Dr said that this was the best bread she has ever eaten so..... maybe they don not east as much bread in Iran as I thought:-)
Whole rye and Kamut bran, 16% pre-fermented flour 100% hydration levain using 10 g of NMNF rye starter aged for 1 weeks
10% high extraction Khorasan
74% Winco bread flour
2% Pink Himalayan sea salt
Enough warm water with a pinch of saffron to get the overall hydration up to 75%
24 hour 2 stage levain with last 12 hour retarded. 1 hour autolyse with the salt sprinkled on top. 1 set of 50 slap and folds and 3 sets of 4 stretch and folds all on 40 minute intervals. 30 minute rest and a set of tretch and folds to place into a plastic covered, oiled, SS bowl for 12 hours of retard. 2 hour warm up, pre-shape and shape and 2 hours of final proof. Baked in a Combo Cooker preheated to 5000 F and then turned down to 450 F for 16 minutes of steam with the lid on, and then 18 minutes of lid off dry heat at 425 F Convection. Baked to 208 F on the inside.