This is a bread from Uzbekistan. It resembles a bagel, and tastes a lot like it. When I saw photographs of this bread, I was very intrigued as to the central pattern in them, and curious to see how different they would taste from a regular bagel. This bread is chewy, with an lightly fluffy crumb, and quite delicious to have as a vehicle for spicy curries or just as a snack hot out of the oven.
I’ve made so many different breads from around the world, that I simply had to try this. The more I research and make breads, the more I realize how similar the breads are. All around the world we use similar base ingredients, but the manner in which we leaven the bread, the time we take to make it, and what we use to bake it, makes it all so different.
(Recipe from food52 – an absolute goldmine of a website, with excellent recipes and amazing products).
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 3 1/2 cups to 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 2 tsp active yeast
- 2 tsp salt
- A couple of tablespoons of milk
- 1 tbsp nigella seeds, for the topping
Mix the yeast, salt and warm water with the whole wheat flour, until smooth. Add the all-purpose flour, a cup at a time until a smooth, soft dough is formed. Continue kneading for 6-8 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, and place in a container to rise.
Cover with plastic wrap or muslin. Let rise for 2 hours.
Take the dough out of the bowl and divide into 4 equal pieces. You could make smaller pieces as well, but just try to make them the same size.
Form each piece into a low-domed round, cover again with the wrap or cloth and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven, with a baking stone if you have one, to 220 deg C/ 425 deg F. Place an empty tray in the oven, one level below the baking stone. (I’ve found the easiest way to create steam is to place an empty tray under the baking stone. After loading the breads onto the stone, carefully pour a cup of hot water into the tray and shut the oven door. The steam gives some extra crispness to the crust.)
After 20 minutes, press the center of each piece with your fist to make a depression – I used a small steel bowl and pressed firmly into the center of each piece.
Using a fork, pierce a few times to make a pattern in the middle of the depression. I made 4 rows of fork piercings. So pretty! Traditionally, they used a chekich, or a special implement to make lovely patterns in the center, but I’m not going to Tashkent anytime soon, so I made use of a fork!
Brush the top of the bread with milk or oil, and sprinkle with nigella seeds – I used a combination of black and white seeds. You could also use any other topping you’d prefer.
Transfer the dough to the baking stone, add the water to the tray and bake for 15 minutes, until browned.
Serve hot. Enjoy 🙂