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Recipes from Cypriot cuisine


 

Koulouri/Thaktilia/ Çörek Ekmek
(Cypriot Sesame Bread)
By Loulla Astin
A popular and very aromatic Cypriot tearing sesame bread, similar to Koulourakia (seeded bread rings), this type of bread is called koulouri or Thaktilia (fingers) because they are long and slashed on top in five places, so they resembled fingers, but very fat fingers! The loaves are flavoured with spices, mastic and mahalepi and topped with sesame, nigella and aniseed seeds. When fasting, they replace milk with water; I also add one tbsp honey, it makes the bread soft.

Ingredients (Makes 3 large breads)

Topping
175g (6oz) sesame seeds
1 tbsp nigella seeds (mavrokokos)
1 tbsp aniseed seeds (gliganiso)

Bread
450g strong flour
450g plain flour
50g fine semolina
1 x 7g sachet of fast action dried yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground mastic
½ tsp ground mahalep
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground aniseed
8 tbsp olive oil
200ml lukewarm milk
200ml lukewarm water

Method
First boil the seeds for the topping for 4–5 minutes, then place in a sieve and let them drain for 30 minutes.

Sift the flour and semolina into a large warm bowl, Stir in the yeast, salt, sugar and spices then rub in the fat or olive oil. Make a well in the centre and start adding the warm water, milk and honey, gradually incorporate the flour from the sides of the bowl into the liquid until it comes together. Knead the dough until soft, elastic and easy to handle. (You could use an electric stand mixer with a dough hook to do this.) Place dough in a bowl and cover with a warm cloth or cling film and leave in a warm place until double in size approx. 2 hours.

Knead the dough lightly and divide into 3 equal pieces. Shape each one into a long thick rolls approx. 25.5cm (10inch.) Roll the bread rolls in the sesame mixture and place on baking trays that been dusted with semolina.

With a dough cutter or a knife cut diagonally through the dough at 4cm (1 1/2 inch) intervals in segments, gently push the pieces together, cover with a tea towel and allow to prove once again for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°c/350°f/Gas 4.
Bake bread in the preheated oven for 30- 35 minutes, turning the tray once or twice so they brown evenly, until golden and sound hollow when tapped on the underside.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool covered with a clean tea towel on a wire rack.
It’s nice warm or cold.

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