If there is one Cypriot bread that you'd like to try baking, then this is the one. Delicious, fluffy and aromatic that you won't stop on just one slice. A recipe by our super talented friend Nikoletta Nikolaou, Paddy's Markets resident cook who frequently shares her home recipes at the Channel 7 Morning Show!
"When warm, I swear this is the best bread ever. Mum would get this bread from our local shops; I’d end up eating half of the warm loaf before we got to the checkout. Mum would give me the look and I’d go pick up another loaf without saying a word." Nikoletta
500g strong bread flour
4 tablespoons organic Armonia extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons (7g) dried yeast
1/8 teaspoon ground fennel
1/8 teaspoon ground aniseed
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1/4 teaspoon powdered mastic from Chios
1/2 teaspoon powdered mahlapi
200ml tepid milk
125ml tepid water
3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
1 teaspoon aniseed
1. Start by adding the sugar and yeast into the milk and leave it to activate. Meanwhile, sift the flour into a large bowl and create a well in the centre. Pour in the extra virgin olive oil and rub with your hands to create a breadcrumb-like texture; this part is called “ρυζιάζετε” (rizazete), which means to rub.
2. Next, add the salt, ground fennel, aniseed, mastic, mahlapi and mix.
3. Pour the milk and yeast, combine with your fingers and gradually pour in the water as you may not need to use all of it. Continue adding water and combine until you’ve picked up all of the flour from the sides of the bowl.
4. Transfer the dough onto a surface dusted with flour and knead well for around 15-20 minutes until you’ve formed a soft, elasticated dough.
5. Rub about a drop of EVOO around your dough and sit in the same bowl you used. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean tea towel and let it rest and proof in a warm area for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.
6. Boil the sesame seeds in a briki (small pan), drain and spread on a tray with the aniseeds. Your sesame seeds need to be wet so it sticks to the dough. After your first proof, remove the dough from the bowl onto a surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself until the dough is smooth and all the air is knocked out.
7. Shape into a long loaf, around 12-inches, the length of a ruler. Brush your dough with milk and roll it in the tray so the loaf is covered in seeds. Transfer to a baking tray lined with baking paper (not greaseproof as it sticks - learn from my mistake). With a dough cutter or blunt knife, cut the dough into parts, leaving around 4-5cm apart. Gently push or tuck the dough so it’s neat and aligned on your tray.
8. Cover your loaf with a clean tea towel and let it proof for another hour. After 40 minutes have passed, start preheating your oven to 210C, fan-forced.
9. Before you add your loaf into the oven, add a deep oven-proof dish at the bottom of the oven and pour about half a cup of water to create gentle steam, this will help the bread to rise during baking. Bake for 30-35 minutes until gorgeously tanned and aromatic. Leave to cool for about 10 minutes before slicing or tearing into.
A tip from me when you make it - don’t dive straight in soon as it comes out of the oven. Let it sit for around 15 minutes. Not only do you burn your mouth (I’ll never learn) but by letting the loaf rest, you’re allowing it to emit steam at its natural pace, giving you a less dense loaf.
If you loved this Cypriot bread recipe, then you'd love some of our favourite recipes below, check them out: