Recipe For Barbari Bread
Here's What My Advice Boils Down To After 5 Years Of My Barbari Affair
- Start with the best. It is 5 ingredients. Salt, flour, sugar, yeast, water. Go buy some quality fine kosher salt, filtered water to show your dedication, fresh yeast when possible, and most importantly - buy stone ground bread flour from your local market if you can, otherwise Organic King Arthur’s Bread Flour is my go to (you cannot use AP flour in this recipe).
- Express yourself. The dusting on top of the barbari is the most special part. It allows you the ability to personalize each loaf. I love using za’atar mixed with nigella, cured sumac, rose petals and crushed Caspian Blue Salt. Take an opportunity to work outside the recipe and put a personal touch on the bread.
- You will fail sometimes, and it’s ok. Bread is a body of dough being made by micro-organisms breathing air into the pockets of dough and gluten. Their ability to expand and rise depends on the temperature of your oven, the temperature of your home, the texture of your counter top, the moisture in the air, the mood of your day, the mood of your cat, what you had for lunch – forgive yourself if it doesn’t turn out right, assess the failure, learn from it, try again.
- Use your intuition. Because of all the factors that play a part in bread, you need to approach the recipe differently almost every time to accommodate for temperate, humidity, and the nature of the ingredients. Nothing is entirely consistent. Be comfortable to let it cook in the oven longer for example,or adding or reserving flour according to the feeling of the dough. Intuition is power.
- Take pleasure. This is the most important part of making any food. Learn to take pleasure, or whatever you’re making is not worth the effort. Nothing delicious was made by grief. Light a candle, play some music, pour yourself a glass of wine, but set yourself up to be exclusively involved with making this bread, and it will change how you do everything else in your life forever.
For The Bread:
- 500g Bread Flour + More For The Work Surface
- 2 Cups Tepid Filtered Water
- 25g Active Dry Yeast (use double the amount of Fresh Yeast alternatively)
- 5g Granulated Sugar
- 10g Kosher Salt
For The Glaze (Roomal):
- 15g Flour
- 180ml Cold Water
- 180ml Boiling Water
- 5g Baking Soda
- 5g Kosher Salt
- 30g Mixed Black & White Sesame Seeds or 30g Za’atar
For The Bread:
- Preheat your oven to 485°F and place a pizza stone or flat pan on the lowest rack.
- Dissolve yeast and sugar in a bowl with the tepid water, and set aside for 10 minutes to allow yeast to activate. A bubbly sponge will form on top of the water once the yeast is ready.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together, bread flour, and kosher salt. Create a well in the flour and add your yeast and water mixture. Using a wooden spoon, slowly mix together the flour and water, until it starts to resemble a shaggy mass, and the dough starts to come off the sides of the bowl.
- Light flour your work surface, hands, and the top of the dough, and turn over your dough ball onto your working area. Gently knead your dough for 10 minutes and add only more flour if necessary. Press the palm of your hands at the bottom of the dough with one hand as your gently grip the top of the dough with the other in order to pull the mass and develop the gluten strands that will give it structure for rising. Fold the dough over top of itself and repeat in personalized, expressive motions. This dough should be slightly more wet than your standard dough, so refrain from over-flouring it. It should be right on the verge of sticky while still being able to peel away from the counter clean.
- Once a stretchy, buoyant and supple mass has formed, lightly cover the outside of the dough ball with flour, place into a clean bowl, and cover with a towel for 1 hour in a warm place or until the dough has doubled its size.
- After your dough has risen, punch it down and turn onto a lightly floured work surface again. Gently knead it for two minutes and return it back into the bowl, and allow it to rise for a second time, approximately 45 minutes or until doubled.
- Once the dough has risen for a second time, punch it down again, and return it back to your work surface. Cut the dough in half.
- Place the dough on 10 x 15 inch section of parchment paper. Cover very lightly all around with flour to assure it doesn’t stick to the parchment. Gently wet your hands, and using the tips of your fingers, press into the dough and spread the dough into the shape of a rectangle, to about 8 x 13 inches. Allow the bread to rise one last time for 25 minutes.
For The Glaze:
- Meanwhile, prepare the Romal (the glaze). Gently whisk cold water and flour in a non- stick pan until smooth and combined. Cook over medium-low heat until a thick paste forms. Add baking soda and hot water and continue to whisk until the glaze turns smooth and resembles the thickness of yogurt. Take off the heat and place into a bowl.
- Using a brush, gently glaze the bread loafs all over the surface and sides to cover it evenly.
- Using the side of your hand, drag 4-5 lines into the dough from the top to the bottom, spread approximately 1 inch apart, in what look like guitar lines on an instrument (hence how the word “barb” finds its way into “Barbari".
- Sprinkle the bread with sesame seeds or za’atar before transferring the bread to a paddle.
- Slide the bread onto the preheated stone or pan and allow to cook for 10 –12 minutes or until golden brown all over.
- Once baked, removed from the parchment paper, shake slightly to release any lose garnishes and allow to cool on cooling racks.
- To serve, re-toast the bread in the over for 3-4 minutes. Alternatively store the bread in a dry place for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.