The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Greek Sourdough Country Bread

Andreea C's picture
Andreea C

Greek Sourdough Country Bread

Hello everybody! I managed today to post this bilingual article in my Romanian blog. It features one of my favorite breads. I first baked this some months ago, when I discovered the spice "mahlab" in a spice shop and since then I have baked it over and over again. All the people who tasted it got very enthusiastic about it, despite the fact that it didn't taste like "normal bread" (because of it's mahlab scent).

Mahlab (mahlep) is a very old spice obtained by grinding the seeds of a kind of cherry tree and it tastes and smells charmingly, somewhat like bitter almonds and cherries. It is used in Greece, in Turkey and in Middle Eastern cuisines to spice breads, pastries and sweets. 

This bread is also interesting because it contains around 20% barley flour and cornmeal and 15% whole wheat flour, which all contribute to its deep taste. It's a sturdy bread, very nourishing, indeed a good old peasant's bread. 

The basis formula for this bread is taken from Aglaia Kremezi's "The Foods of Greece", a great book, which I highly recommend. I adapted the formula somewhat. Lately I am very passionate about regional breads, the kind of special breads, that are sometimes made only in a very small region of a country, but which have a very long tradition among those people. I have found such recipes in some of my cookery books (Aglaia Kremezi, Paula Wolfert) and even if some of the recipes don't include sourdough (but commercial yeast), I am sure they were adapted for the average reader (sometimes this detail is even mentioned). I plan to try more of these breads, with sourdough of course. I will share with you my experiments in the near future.

Meanwhile, you can check the formula for this mahlab country bread in my blog article

Happy baking to you all and happy new year!



dabrownman's picture

barley, corn and WW all go so well together and make for one that is tasty too.  Well done and happy baking.

Andreea C's picture
Andreea C

This bread got me interested in barley flour, I will try to integrate it more often in my baking in the future. In Romania, barley flour is so unknown. Only some of the health stores sell it.

All best!

ElPanadero's picture

looking loaf sir.  The Mahlap spice sounds interesting.  It most probably has strong health benefits as I believe that the substance called Amygdalin is present in cherry stones as well as bitter almonds, bitter apricot kernels, apple seeds, broad beans and many other things.  Amygdalin is, according to research going back to the 1950s, a hugely anti-cancer substance but the powers that be don't really want us to know that.  I will do some further research into Mahlap.  Thanks for the photo and links.

Andreea C's picture
Andreea C

I didn't know whaat the health benefits of mahlab are, I had only read some things about it's use and spread. It's good to know that it may be also healthy. Do you know to what extent these qualities might resist the baking (the high heat processing) ?

Isand66's picture

Very interesting bread.  Thanks for sharing with us.  It sounds like it must be very tasty.  I have to see if I can find this new spice Mahlap so I can try this.

Andreea C's picture
Andreea C

That would be great. I would love to see what other experienced bakers think about it. All best!

ananda's picture

Lovely bread, Andreea C, great work.   And the source book looks a must for me to buy,

I must get hold of some barley flour sometime soon; the spice from cherry stones sounds fascinating.

All good wishes


Andreea C's picture
Andreea C

All best to you!

Cathfm's picture

I really want to bake this cause we just relocated here but for some reason the Greek supermarkets do not have cornmeal or barley flour -_-