Guest Post by Umut – Flower Wheat Bread
After my success with the braided bread loaf, I e-mailed pictures of it to my mother, who reminded me that another festive bread shape in Turkey is what is called the “Flower Bread.” That bread is usually a white bread, but I like the taste of whole-wheat breads so much better that again, I thought I would do a version with mostly whole-wheat flour. I adjusted the recipe a little bit from the classic whole-wheat recipe according to what was actually available in my pantry. I only had about three cups of whole-wheat flour so I did a 50-50 whole-wheat and all purpose unbleached flour. In order to thoroughly mix the two different flours, I sifted both flours and stirred it in a mixing bowl first, then measured one cup at a time and added to the liquid in the other mixing bowl. I also switched from honey to turbinado sugar.
Flower Wheat Bread
Ingredients 2 cups water 1 Tablespoon turbinado sugar 1 Tablespoon (or packet) active dry yeast 1 Tablespoon salt 2 Tablespoons olive oil 3 cups whole-wheat flour 3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
Preparation Boil two cups of water and pour into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar and wait for the water to cool down to between 100F and 110F degrees. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can gauge the temperature by trying some on your wrist. If it doesn’t feel hot, it’s time to add the yeast. Add the salt and the oil; then start adding the flour one cup at a time. Stir the fourth cup of flour especially well until you get an elastic dough. The fifth cup will make the dough pretty stiff.
At this point, take the remaining cup of flour and sprinkle half of it on a kneading board or your countertop. Dump the dough out of the bowl on to your floured surface and start kneading. With floured hands, fold dough toward you then push away firmly with the heel of your hand. Keep turning the dough and repeating this process as you work in the last half cup of the flour, for about 6 to 8 minutes. Kneading is finished when the dough is no longer sticky and is smooth and satiny. Rinse your mixing bowl and grease it with a little olive oil.
Put the dough in the bowl and cover it with a damp kitchen towel. Find the coziest place (about 80F degrees) in your kitchen and put the bowl there and forget about it for about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Punch down the dough and squeeze out as many of the air bubbles as you can.
With a sharp knife, first cut the dough into two equal parts, then make smaller balls of dough from the two larger portions. You’ll end up with anywhere from 8 to 10 small dough balls (I had 9 for some reason.) Grease a cookie sheet and sprinkle some cornmeal on it. (You can use parchment paper on top of the cookie sheet, too, but still grease and use cornmeal if you do.) Take the dough balls and arrange them into the shape of a flower, making sure that the individual dough balls are sticking nicely to each other.
Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and let it rise again for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425F degrees and bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is a deep golden brown and a knife or a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the bread.
Serve warm with butter, olive oil, cheeses or jam. The “petals” of this bread also make great rolls for sandwiches.