Friday, 25 May 2012

Cypriot Koulouri or circular sesame seeded bread

Koulouri is a traditional Cypriot circular bread, with a hole in the middle, and is coated with sesame seeds. Cypriot koulouri tends to have a crunchy or even hard coating, in comparison to similar breads in the region which are often softer. There are many different village recipes and in various combinations some may also include cumin, anise, fennel or caraway seeds. Cypriot bread was, and in some cases still is, traditionally made using a sourdough starter and baked in an earth oven. Cyprus has for centuries had a reputation for it's bread making, as the ancient writer Ebulus wrote in the Middle Ages, "Tis a hard thing, beholding Cyprian loaves, to ride carelessly by, for like a magnet, they do attract the hungry passengers".

Have a try at making your own koulouri, using the following basic recipe which can be baked in a kitchen oven and you will enjoy the aroma that will fill your kitchen.

Ingredients:

150g sourdough starter or 1.5 Tbs of dried yeast
850 grams of flour
2 tsp salt
2 Tbs of crushed anise seeds
3 Tbs of sugar
1-2 cups of water
50 ml of olive oil
250g-350g sesame seeds

Method

If using dried yeast this needs to be activated as per the instructions.

Sift 850 grams of flour into a bowl and add the salt. Make a well in the center and add the sugar, anise seeds, olive oil and sourdough or activated yeast. Mix in well, start kneading by continually adding sufficient warm water to form a dough. You may need to add a bit more flour to get your dough to the right consistency.

Place the dough in a bowl, cover with a cloth and leave until it has doubled in size. This, depending on the temperature, will take from between one to two hours.

Re-knead for another 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 15-20 or so portions and roll them into thin sausage shape, about 35 cm in length. Dip these in warmish water and roll them in sesame seeds before pressing the 2 ends firmly together to form a ring.

Preheat the oven to 220C, lay the sesame rings on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on the outside.

Your koulouri can be enjoyed either warm or cold and in Cyprus is traditionally accompanied by olives and halloumi or hellim cheese.

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