Monday, March 5, 2012

Ethiopian Honey Bread

The recipe for this delicious loaf comes from Marcus Samuelsson's The Soul of a New Cuisine:  A Discovery of Foods and Flavors of Africa--a gorgeously illustrated and James Beard Foundation award winning cookbook.  It offers a a number of bread recipes using honey, including pita bread and a toasted peanut bread recipe I hope to try soon.

This Ethiopian honey bread is lightly sweetened and delicately perfumed with rosemary that is toasted before adding to the dough.  The combination of honey and rosemary are delightful and neither overpowers the loaf.  This would make a good sandwich bread, as well as a nice bread for breakfast.

The recipe in Samuelsson's book produces two loaves and uses loaf pans.  I cut the recipe in half and skipped the loaf pan in favor of boule. offers Samuelsson's full recipe from a 2009 piece in Gourmet.

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1/8th cup canola oil
1 1/4 cup water
3/8ths cup honey (you can eyeball this!)
3 1/2 cups  all-purpose flour
1 package quick rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt.

Toast the rosemary in a small skillet over high heat until it's fragrant--about 30 seconds.  In a small sauce pan, combine oil, water and honey. Heat over medium flame, stirring until honey dissolves.  Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together three cups flour, yeast, salt and toasted rosemary.  Pour warm water/honey mixture over and mix well, adding additional flour if needed to form ball.  Knead the dough until it is somewhat smooth--about 5 or 6 minutes.  Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and let rise until doubled in bulk--about an hour.

Gently fold dough in on itself, about 3 or 4 times and shape into a round loaf.  Let rise again until doubled in bulk--about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degree, with rack in middle position. Add a baking stone to oven if you'd like.

Make some decorative slashes in the top of the loaf and place on parchment paper on the baking stone (or on a cookie sheet).  Bake for about 30 minutes--but check this, as the loaf may not be done in the center.  If it feels heavy and doesn't have a hollow sound when the bottom is tapped, give it another 10 minutes or so.  If needed, tent with aluminum foil to prevent overbrowning.  Let cool on a cooling rack before slicing.