middle-egyptian

FROM THE LAND OF THE PHARAOH’S: EGYPTIAN SEMIT BREAD

If you have ever had the pleasure of visiting the nation of Egypt, you know of the incredible beauty this ancient land possesses. Of course if you were there, you also had some delicious food. The Egyptian diet is one of unadulterated freshness and I think they actually have some of the best desserts in the world.

When it comes to food staples in Egypt (and really anywhere in the Middle East), bread is a staple. You will find a plethora of breads ranging from flat breads to loaf breads but one bread which is a national treasure is called Semit. It is baked into individual loaves and goes perfectly with anything – including eating it on its own, which I often do.

As opposed to many breads of this ilk, this one does have a few more ingredients and it is these ingredients which give the bread its wonderful texture. To be authentic, you would top this bread with poppy seeds. You can also use sesame seeds or if you prefer no seeds at all, use some coarse salt (which would be nomad style).

This is a yeast risen bread, so there are a few rising periods. There is no need to watch the bread while it rises, so go ahead and continue with your daily activities.

EGYPTIAN SEMIT BREAD (makes 8 pieces, depending on size):

Ingredients needed to make Egyptian Semit Bread:

1 ¼ cups hot milk
1 ¼ cups warm water
2 Tbs. lard
2 Tbs. butter
2 ½ Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. salt
1 ½ Tbs. dry yeast
7 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 Tbs. cold water
¼ cup poppy seeds

Steps:

1) In a large bowl, whisk together the hot milk, ¾ cup warm water, lard, butter, sugar and, salt. Set the bowl aside.
2) In a small bowl, whisk the remaining water and yeast. Set the bowl aside 10 minutes for the yeast to proof (foam).
3) Whisk the proofed yeast into the milk mixture.
4) Stir in the the flour to make a stiff dough. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest 10 minutes.
5) Place the dough onto a floured surface and knead 10 minutes.
6) Place the dough back into the bowl, cover, place in a warm area and let rise 2 hours.
7) Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead the dough 5 minutes.
8) Divide the dough into 8 portions and roll each portion into a 7-inch rope of about ¾-inch thick.
9) Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper or a silicon sheet.
10) In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and cold water (this is an egg wash).
11) Place the breads onto the prepared baking sheet(s) and brush each with the egg wash, followed with a sprinkling of poppy seeds.
12) Let the breads rise 1 hour.
13) Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.
14) Place the breads into the oven and bake 10 minutes.
15) Reduce the heat to 350 and bake 20 minutes or until golden.
16) Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
**If using 2 baking sheet, switch their position mid-way during each baking process**