Alexandrian Bread Recipe

This emmer wheat bread recipe features emmer wheat flour and chickpea flour in a reconstruction of an ancient Mediterranean staple.



Spring 2015

Total Hands-On Time: 2 hrs

Preparation Time: 1 hr 20 min

Cook Time: 35-40 min

Yield: Two 6-inch diameter loaves

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Learn more about emmer wheat in the article Emmer Wheat: Ancient Bread Rediscovered.

The best place to see and sample the vast diversity of traditional emmer wheat food preparations was the farmers market in Aleppo, Syria, but unfortunately that historic market has recently fallen victim to the ongoing civil war in that country. Our emmer wheat bread recipe is a generalized reconstruction of a type of bread you would find in their market since no exact recipe has survived.

Ingredients:

• 1/2 cup organic chickpea flour

• 4-1/2 cups organic emmer wheat flour

• 1/2 ounce (2 packets) dry active yeast

• 2 cups warm organic wheat beer or warm water

• 1/4 cup honey

• 2 tablespoons ground fenugreek

• 2 teaspoons ground cumin

• 1-1/2 tablespoons sea salt

• Cumin seeds

• Whole wheat bran

Instructions:

1. Combine the chickpea flour with 2 cups of emmer wheat flour and place this in a large work bowl. Make a valley in the center of the flour mixture. Combine the yeast, warm beer, and honey. Pour this into the valley; do not stir! Cover and set aside in a warm place until the yeast has begun to foam vigorously.

 2. While the yeast is proofing, sift together the remaining emmer wheat flour, fenugreek, cumin and sea salt. Set aside in a large work bowl. Once the yeast is active, sift the remaining flour mixture into the slurry. Work with your hands to form soft pliant dough. Kneed 5 minutes, then cover and set aside to double in bulk. Once doubled in bulk, knock down and divide the dough into two equal pieces, each weighing about 1-1/4 pounds (600g). Scatter a baking sheet with a mixture of cumin seeds and whole wheat bran. Knead the dough and form it into two round loaves. Set them on the prepared baking sheet and stamp each one with a traditional bread stamp (optional). Cover and set aside to rise for about 30 minutes.

3. While the loaves are recovering, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the loaves are fully risen, bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until the loaves tap hollow on the bottom. As the bread comes from the oven, brush it with cold water or cold organic wheat beer. Cool on racks. Do not slice while hot.