Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Kesra (Moroccan Bread)

I have no willpower. Just four (maybe five?) days after starting the Master Cleanse diet I gave up - I couldn't take it. I suppose I should have been drinking more of the lemonade but regardless, the only time I felt okay was when I was sitting or lying down - any movement made me light-headed. Seth made me take my phone with me everywhere in case I should pass out (I don't know how I would have called, though) and I tortured myself by watching marathons of cooking shows and browsing all my favorite foodie websites. So on the fifth day I gave in and decided to return to the tried and true technique of "eat less, exercise more" - to make a pie with my remaining maple syrup.

That pie is for another day. Today I have lovely, slightly chewy, Moroccan bread, which I actually made the day before I began my diet. I try not to eat too much bread anymore but I love to make it, the calming action of kneading, the lesson of patience as the dough rises, plus the heavenly smell: I enjoy it all - except for leavened flat bread. That tedious oxymoron angers me. Kesra has everything I love about bread except it only requires one rising and bakes in about 15 minutes, so you get to enjoy the benefits that much faster. As mentioned, it is slightly chewy (Seth described it as "doughy") and slightly dense, though not overly so - somehow like homemade Italian bread, but flatter. I eagerly tore off pieces and ate them slathered with butter, but the pieces also are a wonder at sopping up juices from a stew or saucy tangine. Mmmm.

Publish Post

The Food of Morocco

Makes 3 loaves

3tsp active dried yeast
3 1/3cups AP flour
1 1/3cups whole wheat flour
1/2cup lukewarm milk
2tbsp yellow cornmeal
1tbsp whole aniseed, toasted sesame seeds or coarse salt for topping

1. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Sift the flours and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt into a mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the yeast mixture into the well, then add 1 cup lukewarm water and the milk. Stir sufficient flour into the liquid to form a thin batter, cover the bowl with a cloth and set aside for 15 minutes until bubbles form.

2. Gradually stir in the remaining flour, then mix with your hands to form a soft dough, adding a little extra water if necessary. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic and the dough springs back when an impression is made with a finger. Knead in extra plain flour if dough remains sticky after a few minutes of kneading.

3. As the dough requires only one rising, divide into 3 even-sized pieces. Shape each into a ball and roll out on a lightly floured surface to rounds either 9-inch diameter or 10 1/2-inch, for flatter breads.

4. Sprinkle cornmeal onto baking trays. Lift rounds onto trays , reshaping if necessary. Brush the tops lightly with water and, if desired, sprinkle with any one of the toppings, pressing it in lightly. Cover loaves with clean cloths and leave in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour to rise.

5. While loaves are rising, preheat oven to 425F. Just before baking, prick loaves with a fork. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until bread is golden and sounds hollow when base is tapped. Cool on a wire rack. Cut in wedges to serve; use on day of baking.

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