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Greek Recipes

Greek Bread

Greek Village Bread / Psomi Horiatiko

Here in the Islands, fresh bread is baked in the village homes on a weekly basis.  

Every Saturday, the Village bee-hive ovens get fired up and the air fills with the wonderful aroma of thick and crusty, fresh bread.

   

Ingredients
1 recipe Sour Dough Starter or 1oz.fresh yeast or 1 tbs. dry yeast
2 lbs. whole-wheat flour (any flour of your choice can be substituted)
1 tbs. salt
2   to 3 cups warm water
2 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. milk
2 tbs. honey (optional)

Although its preferable to use the sour dough starter, you can use yeast for a quicker version of this bread.  It wont give you the heavy flavor, but it will still be delicious.  If youre using fresh or dry yeast, dilute it in 1 cup of warm water.  Into a large mixing bowl, mix the flour with the salt and make a well in the center of it.  Pour in the yeast mixture or sour dough starter, oil, milk and honey if youre using it, and the remaining water.

Using you hands, incorporate the flour from the sides of the bowl into the mixture.  Keep mixing it until its soft and sticky.  Flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto it.  Keep kneading it until it becomes more elastic.

Add a bit of olive oil to the empty mixing bowl and using your fingers, coat the sides with it.  Put the dough back into this bowl.  Cover it with a clean, cloth kitchen towel and set it aside in a warm place to rise.  I would also wrap the covered bowl up in a blanket as well to keep it warmer.  Let it rise until its double in bulk 1 to 2 hours.

After its risen, punch the dough back down and turn it out onto the floured work surface. Knead it for another 5 minutes.   Divide the dough into 3 loaves (or any quantity and size that you prefer) and shape them.  Round or cylindrical, the choice is up to you.   Place them on un-greased baking sheets allowing for room between them when they rise.  Cover the breads and sheets with clean towels and a blanket and let them rise again in a warm place about 1 hour.


After they have risen for the second time, bake them in a hot oven 450F.  If they seem that they are getting too brown too fast, loosely cover them with a sheet of aluminum foil.  Also, dont use a convection oven it will burn them.  Just good old fashion bake them.  After 20 minutes, reduce the temperature to 400F and bake them for another 20-25 minutes until browned.

Susies Note:
If you like thick crusts on your bread, you can use a sharp knife and make inch deep slashes across the top of the loaves before you bake them.  Although the village women dont do this, it does make the loaves look prettier.  Also, If you prefer your bread lighter and airier, place a pan of water in the bottom of the oven when you begin to bake at 450F and then remove it when you reduce the heat to 400F. The steam that will be released will help the dough rise more. Again, this is not traditional to the Islands, but it gives a different texture to the bread for another variation.

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