Pide Bread

Pide is to Turkey as focaccia is to Italy: a simple, delicious, tear ‘n’ share accompaniment to… just about anything.

Many people are scared of making bread, I really can’t see why. There is a time element involved in making bread, but the actual hands-on time is mere minutes, the rest of the time is spent either leaving the dough alone to do its thing, or leaving it in the oven to cook while you do something else. There are few simpler breads than this, so if you are a bread-making novice this is a very rewarding place to start.

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RECIPE – serves 4 to 6 people

2 tsp dried yeast

1 tsp sugar

450ml tepid tap water

700g white bread flour, plus a little extra for dusting

1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp polenta or semolina, for dusting

For the topping:

1 fat clove of garlic, bruised with the back of a knife

50ml olive oil

1 sprig of rosemary, leaves only

1 tsp flaky sea salt


METHOD 

Combine the yeast, sugar and water in a jug and leave it in a warm place until it begins to froth. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt, then add the olive oil and gradually add the yeast mixture. Using your hand as a claw, gradually work the liquid into the flour as you add it, stop adding liquid when the dough comes together and starts to clean itself off the sides of the bowl. The hydration that flour requires can vary enormously depending on the manufacturer, its age and the atmospheric conditions, so you may have some liquid left over, or you may require a little more – let your fingers be your guide.

Knead the dough, still in the bowl, for a couple of minutes, then turn it out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead with the whole of your hand for twenty seconds, bringing the dough to a tight ball. Leave to rest for ten minutes, then knead for another twenty seconds, again bringing the dough back to a tight ball – add a little more oil if you need to. Leave to rest for another ten minutes, then knead for a final twenty seconds, bringing the dough back to a tight ball and placing it into a large, lightly-oiled, bowl. At this stage your dough should be silky, springy and pliable – that means the gluten has formed strong strands so your bread will hold the carbon dioxide given off by the yeast as it feeds off the sugar, and it will rise.

Cover with cling film and set aside in a warm place for about an hour until it has doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, combine the garlic and oil for the topping in a small pan and heat gently until the oil is warm. Turn off the heat, add the rosemary leaves and set aside to infuse.

Heat your oven to 240C/ gas 9, or as hot as your oven will go (if it will go higher than get the temperature right up – my oven gets close to 300C, bread LOVES heat!). Leave two baking trays or pizza stones in the oven to heat up.

Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and push the air out of the dough using your fingers and hands. Divide the dough into equal pieces as you wish; you can divide it into 2, 4 or 6 depending how large you want your breads to be. You can also divide off some of the dough and put it into a sealed ziplock bag, leaving it in the fridge for up to a week and it will awaken when brought back into the warm. The dough will also freeze for a month or more.

Flatten the divided dough balls into rough ovals using your hands or a rolling pin. Dust the baking trays or stones with semolina or polenta then place the dough on them. Make indentations with your fingers all over the surface of each and drizzle over the infused oil (not the garlic and rosemary leaves though). Sprinkle over the flaky sea salt and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden – a little less if you have divided the dough into more pieces.

Allow to cool a little but eat it fresh from the oven. So simple, so delicious!

You can also top these breads with a dusting of za’atar or dukkah, nigella seeds, sesame seeds, whatever takes your fancy.

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