As many of you know, bread is a main staple in Turkey and the common white loaf is sold in every part of the country. If one lived close to a little shop then it is normal to buy fresh bread three times a day. Fresh out of the oven ready for every meal.
The delivery trucks seems to go backwards and forwards all day long with its wonderfully scented precious cargo. But for many villagers, there is no corner shop and so we have the infamous Village Bread or ‘Köy Ekmeği’ as it is known.
It is common practice for many housewives living in the villages to bake their own bread. Their bread is extremely delicious and often called ‘Köy Ekmeği’ meaning village bread. This will be made up of water, flour, olive oil, yeast, salt, sugar and sometimes yogurt depending on the season. It is kneaded the night before, then baked the following day.
They will normally make several loaves at once. Most likely at least one loaf will be eaten at each meal. There are no preservatives of course and what is not eaten by nightfall should be frozen, as it turns hard as a rock very quickly. That’s what village bread is all about.
Baking Village Bread that tastes like the village ladies’ is very difficult when you don’t have a wood stove. However, I have been able to successfully pull off some nice loaves with a recipe I have adapted from various instructions from the neighbours. It does seem to come fairly close.
It is a super easy one that requires little work and tastes great.
- 3¼ cups tepid water
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- 6½ cups plain flour
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- In a large bowl sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and sugar.
- To check that yeast is still fresh and active, wait 10 minutes for frothing to occur. If you know the yeast is fresh continue on to next step without waiting.
- Add flour and salt and work into a dough.
- Once it gets too thick, tip it onto the counter if your bowl is too restrictive. Continue mixing.
- When all combined, add the olive oil and mix through.
- This bread does not need to be kneaded.
- Leave to stand for 4 hours of preferably overnight.
- The next day gently shape it into a loaf or small rolls, whichever you want and place it on either a greased tray or a silicone sheet lining the baking tray.
- Leave to rise another 4 hours and place in an oven preheated to 220C for around 20 minutes.
- The key is to watch the colour and remove once it is a deep golden colour.
- Remove from the tray after 5 mins, if left any longer, the bottom might go soggy.
GÖZLEME or SAÇ BÖREĞİ
A flat bread called Gözleme has been a popular side or even a complete meal all over Turkey, for more than a century. In recent times it is fast becoming one of the most loved street foods in tourist areas, not only in Turkey but in popular markets in big cities all over the world.
It is also known as Saç Böreğı. The word Saç refers to the circular, slighly convex shaped metal plate that sits over the coals, on which the börek is cooked.
It has been around for centuries but the idea of having a lady sitting cross legged, rolling out your lunch at the front of the restaurant pulls in the customers and is a sight you will see many times, in the tourist resorts all over Turkey.
You need time to make the dough or else you can buy ready made ‘yufka’ pastry and just fill them. Yufka is a slightly different recipe as gözleme actually does use yeast in its dough, however you can do a cheat’s version quite successfully with the already-made yufka.
Gözleme are very delicious and there is a wonderful choice of fillings. If you would like to give it a go and make it from scratch, then take a look at the post called Classic Turkish Flat Breads which Claudia posted a while back.
THIS REMINDED ME…. did you know?
Back in the 80’s when inflation was rampant (it rose to 138% in 1980), the price of bread would jump dramatically quite often. As I mentioned above, bread is a main staple in the Turkish kitchen. Just to let you in on a very interesting fact, when a staple food price is inflated, the demand for that item increases. Sounds strange doesn’t it?
IT’S THE ECONOMICS OF IT ALL
What happens is that bread accompanies all meals in Turkey. I can’t think of one particular occasion where I have not been served bread when eating. When the price of bread goes up, it is still an obligatory requirement to serve it. What it means, is that the household may not be able to afford as much meat or another expensive ingredient. So in fact, even more bread is bought to cover for the reduction of the more expensive items that the housewife can no longer serve. It means, a price increase on a staple causes an increase in its demand.
That said, no matter the cost, bread is on our table in one form or another at most meals, just like the Turks. We do have quite a taste for it.