Santorini, Athens, Delphi…. I have been to these wonderful places…. in my dreams. The eternal dream that revives and keeps me anticipated of joy, beauty, and the excitement of traveling has always been about one same place…. Greece. As a teenager I had watched “Summer Lovers” in a theatre and being instantly introduced to one of the most beautiful place of the world: Oia, Santorini. The mesmerizing scenes of white washed houses, blue domed churches, steeples, bells overlooking the deep blue Mediterranean Sea have been staying in my mind ever since, and have never been replaceable or comparable to anywhere else in the world.
Well, I don’t mind waiting. In my dream, I want to go there when everything is right and I have my loved one to share this trip. I don’t mind working and saving money for years and yet wishing that one day I will eventually go to Greece. As I have set it as my utmost destination for so many years, the thrills have been greatly accumulated and in that way, I constantly look forward to it.
So when recently I stumbled into Kalofagas – Greek Food and Beyond blog. I spontaneously felt hooked. Peter, the blogger has described so much about Greece and its food and culture, and revealed that “while Athens is the capital city and heart of Greece, Thessaloniki is the belly, feeding Greece with its sophisticated and diverse cuisine…” (Source: http://kalofagas.ca/2010/09/19/koulouria-thessalonikis). So this piece of information put Thessaloniki as the Greek food exploration spot in my Greece itinenary.
Peter also included Koulouri and shared its recipe in his post. Apparently this very delicious- looking white-sesame-coated bread ring is the typical breakfast ritual of many Greeks who want a quick bite on the way to work in the morning. And appreciating the photos in his blog was not good enough, I had to bake these rings and tasted them on my own. At least I would have an idea how a Koulouri might taste like.
Meanwhile, I am delighted for winning DMBLGIT September 2010. Thanks to Harini of Tongue Ticklers for hosting this great event and many gratitudes to judges: Thorsten Kraska of My2Penn'orth, Veronica of Edes es Keseru, and Karen Low of Citrus and Candy.
So without any delay, I printed the recipe and baked with high enthusiasm. Well, if you understand the baking mood that I had in that moment, you would fully comprehend why on earth I had come out with a variety of coatings. For all of you who are into Greek food and culture, don’t miss Kalofagas!
KOULOURIA (Adapted from Kalofagas)
Makes 9 pieces
- Dry yeast > 4 g
- Honey > ½ tablespoon
- Warm water > 135 ml
- Fine sea salt > 3 g
- Olive oil > 22 g
- All purpose flour > 245 g
- Extra water > for coating
- White sesame > 50 g
- Mixed dried fruits – cut into chunks > 50 g
- Dried cranberries – cut into chunks > 30 g
- Crystal sugar > 30 g
- Apricot gel > to brush on coating
- Combine honey, 45 ml of warm water, and yeast in a big bowl. Stir with a spoon and leave for 10 minutes to activate yeast.
- Add sea salt, olive oil, 90 ml of warm water, and 70 g of flour at a time whilst mixing the dough with your hands. Continue adding flour and mixing until the dough is no longer sticky.
- Knead dough for 10 minutes. Form into a ball and rub the surface with some olive oil. Place in a bowl and cover with cling film. Allow to rest in a warm place for an hour until dough becomes doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 230 C.
- Punch the dough with your fist and turn the dough onto the working surface. Cut dough into 50 grams pieces. You will get about 9. Roll each into a shape of a 14 inch rope with your hands. Lift it up with two even ends hanging down. Now twist the bottom and top with your hands to form the braid. Repeat for the rest.
- Place water in one plate and sesame in another. Dip the braided dough into water and then sesame (or mixed dried fruits, or dried cranberries with crystal sugar). Place coated dough on baking sheet.
- As the oven reaches 230 C, place a tray of hot water on the lower rack and place the baking tray in the middle. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until just golden.
- Brush with apricot gel. Cool on wire rack.