Monday, January 29, 2007

Bread Baking


We built a wood-fired oven for making bread at home and decided last week that it was time to try it out. Mohamed Said went out and bought about 15 kg of flour, both white and whole wheat, some baker's yeast, some bran, and we organised the trays and baking equipment that we bought at the market a couple of weeks ago. Oh, and we also got a lot of wood for the fire. Magda came in and mixed up flour, water, and yeast in the largest plastic bin we had and left it to raise. Then once it had risen once, she formed it into balls and patted them flat to lay in the wooden trays to rise once again. After the second rising, the patties were flattened again and flipped a number of times on palm wood trays to reach the appropriate size and then slid into the oven.

The fire was built beneath the cooking tile on which the bread was baking and the tile would take two loaves. They were maneuvered around with a palm frond that had been carved down into a flat end. The entire process only took a few hours and we made rather a lot of bread...at least 10 kilos of it. Each loaf was about 10 to 15 cm (roughly 12 inches?) across and they were cut into quarters to put into plastic bags for freezing to use later. One quarter of a loaf is plenty for a sandwich that doesn't leave a millimetre of space in your stomach. BUT the bread is so delicious that it is really hard to eat just one.

I have no idea if this fresh bread is more economical than the bought bread but the flavour is so amazingly wonderful that I know we will continue to bake our own bread. We just had two couples from the US staying at the farm for about four days and they all couldn't get enough of the bread. It makes a great panini with a crunchy crust, heats up in the microwave without getting soggy like the commercial bread, all in all, it is just wonderful.

So now we will begin to explore the possibilities of the oven with perhaps pizza or tagens, the casseroles baked in ceramic pots in these ovens.
Tomorrow is bread day again. Our visitors did a pretty good job of emptying the stocks, but the guys aren't exactly slouches in the eating department either.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I spent the entire weekend reading your blog from the beginning. Your stories remind me about my trips to Egypt in the early 1980s, the time I spent in Sharm el when it was just turned over to the Egyptians (just a couple of dingy motels and a lot of youth hostels), a trip down the Nile with my mother, several months staying on Abu el hul street with friends. And then I read that you grew up in Ojai and are looking for a mule. I live in Ventura County and own a mule, too far to get her to Cairo for you, sorry.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Maryanna
I treid to write you something at your email address miloflamingo@hotmail.com but it doesn't work. what i want to write is not a comment but something it is not be published. can you write an email with the right email address to samehsaf@hotmail.com. thanks

R2K said...

Looks good!

Anonymous said...

Salams. I like your blog! I came across another blog about a Muslim woman today aswell, it's called http://workingmuslimwoman.wordpress.com/
very interesting!
Keep up the cool work!
Saraz

Tohou Lidia said...

wow...i love your blog! amazing photo and amazing information! That bread looks delicious! I'm going to have to read your blog from the start because i think it's so awesome - not many peopel i know would completely relocate to another country! Like most kids i went through my egyptology stage and i still have an interest in the culture so hopefully i can learn something! Great blog!
-Amy

Anonymous said...

I was researching an Egyptian bread recipe to bake and bring in to the class for a social history project of mine when I saw your pics! They are amazing! That is so inspiring to make me want to bake mine now! -Thanks