Greek Fennel, Yogurt, & Honey Bread (a traveler returns to her oven!)
Hello to all the bakers and Loafers! I'd posted about 5 months ago about my upcoming camping journey around the Mediterranean, and received so much wonderful advice... I can't thank everybody enough for their kind, helpful ideas, or begin to tell all the traveling tales.
Apart from a broken camp stove (aaah!) I did discover a number of fantastic, unique local breads, but I will have to wait to post some pictures and descriptions of those (though I promise I will!)...
But as I'm sure so many of you can imagine, now that my husband and I have returned to our home in Hungary, I'm enthralled just to have an oven again! Every day has featured me dancing around a new bread, and it's been a blast - but it's high time I share a bit!
Though my husband, David, disagrees, I think this recipe has been my favorite new bread thus far...
Greek Fennel, Yogurt, and Honey Bread
I unearthed this recipe in The Bread Book, by Sara Lewis, which my little brother's girlfriend gave to me last December. I'd never heard of it, but I very much enjoy the breads it's offered. Both my husband and I try to eat as healthily as we can, so I admit this recipe has been somewhat modified, and though sometimes this leads to problems I was entirely satisfied, and if fact declared it my best ever! Multiple times!
On our camping trip, we spent a month in Greece, between beaches and ancient ruins, and found a lot of fabulous flavors - yogurt featured prominently, as did spices like fennel, anise, and sesame. This evoked it for me... It's very sweet, with a dense but extremely soft crumb, and a soft, pliable crust, and filled with the flavor of the fennel seeds and a tad of citrus.
These ingredients, by the way, are scaled down to an individual loaf, for me, because my husband doesn't like sweet breads, but it's easy to multiply as desired.
165 grams flour
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1-3 teaspoons honey (all depending on your personal taste for sweetness)
(dough enhancers I utilized):
2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten
pinch of ginger
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 oz. + 2 teaspoons yogurt (warmed to room temperature)
2 oz. warm water
Extra honey, milk, and fennel seeds (to glaze)
Whisk a little bit of the flour, yeast, honey, lemon juice, and water in a large bowl to autolyze for 3-5 minutes.
Add the fennel seeds and yogurt and blend well to distribute the seeds.
Add the salt and the rest of the flour and knead with floured hands on a well-floured board. With the large proportion of honey, the dough will be extremely sticky at first, but after ten minutes of kneading it tends to become smooth. Knead for 15 minutes, or until the dough is elastic and does not break if stretched.
Allow dough to rise in a covered bowl until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Remove dough from bowl and give it several soft kneadings and envelope turns. On a lightly greased baking sheet, shape into a spiraled loaf, like a cinnamon bun.
Allow loaf to rise for 45 minutes or so, while preheating the oven to 210 degrees Celsius.
Lightly glaze loaf with milk, sprinkle with extra fennel seeds, and drizzle with honey, especially in the creases of the spiral (yum!).
After rising time, bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until shiny and golden brown, with an inner temperature of 205 degrees Fahrenheit.
Allow to rest and cool - and enjoy!
p.s. if anybody would care to look at some travelogue accounts and photographs of our Mediterranean trip, as well as here in Hungary (currently how we are making our own wine), my blog address is http://erzsebetgilbert.blogspot.com ...