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Stanbuli's Turkish-Cypriot fragrant village bread

"This amazingly fragrant bread is commonly baked in Tukrish-Cypriot homes," says Ibrahim Kasif. "Leftovers are delicious toasted the next day and spread with jam, or sliced thinly and dried out in the oven to snack on." Start this recipe at least eight hours ahead to make the poolish and prove the bread.

Pictured with Stanbuli's fava bean pâté with beetroot, carrot and pickled okra (Bakla ezmesi).


You'll need

125 gm white sesame seeds 50 gm nigella seeds 8 gm aniseed   Poolish 2 gm fresh yeast (see note) or 1gm dried yeast 200 gm plain flour   Bread dough 18 gm fresh yeast (see note) or 9gm dried yeast 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing 1 kg plain flour 1¼ tbsp fine salt 1 tbsp ground aniseed 2 tsp ground fennel seeds 1 tsp ground clove ½ tsp ground cinnamon 1½ tsp finely crushed mastic


  • 01
  • For poolish, dissolve yeast in 200ml lukewarm water in a large bowl until foamy (3-5 minutes). Add flour and mix to combine, then cover and stand in a dry cool place until spongy and proved (at least 4 hours, or overnight).
  • 02
  • For bread dough, dissolve yeast in 650ml lukewarm water until foamy (3-5 minutes). Add oil and half the yeast water to poolish and stir to combine. Add flour, salt, spices and mastic, transfer mixture to an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and, while mixing, add remaining yeast water (1-2 minutes), then knead until smooth and soft (10-15 minutes). Place dough in an oiled deep plastic container, cover with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size (2 hours). Knock back dough and stretch and fold into an even 28cm square. Cover and set aside until almost doubled in size again (1 hour).
  • 03
  • Blanch sesame seeds in a saucepan of boiling water (1 second). Strain well and add to a shallow tray with nigella seeds and aniseed.
  • 04
  • Place dough on a lightly oiled bench and cut into 2 rectangles. Carefully lift each and roll gently in seed mixture. Place on separate baking trays lined with baking paper and prove for 1 hour.
  • 05
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 240C. Spray oven with water to create steam (close door quickly) and bake bread, swapping trays during cooking, until golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped (30-35 minutes).

At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people

Additional Notes

Fresh yeast is available from select health-food shops and grocers. Mastic, a resin, is available from Middle Eastern and Greek delicatessens and from Herbie’s Spices (

Featured in

Aug 2016

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