October 7, 2023 | 12:23pm
MANILA, Philippines — In Turkey, people eat bread three meals a day, and they like their bread freshly baked. A main staple in Turkish cuisine, bread is served warm and crisp with every meal. Like the French bakeries that line the streets of France and let people, locals and tourists alike enjoy freshly baked breads and lovely pastries any time of the day, Turkey has its own vibrant streets teeming with bakeries that send the aroma of freshly baked breads wafting in the air.
Different types of artisan breads are consumed in large quantities across Turkey, which is not a problem because Turkey is a wheat-growing and flour-producing nation. It produces various kinds of flour, including all-purpose flour, bread flour, cake flour, pastry flour and high-gluten flour, used in making a variety of soft and hard breads, rolls, pastries, cakes, cookies and biscuits.
Like any other bread, Turkish breads are made using four basic ingredients — flour, water, yeast and salt. Flour makes up 66% of breads, and the quality of breads produced depends largely on the flour used.
Taking pride in the quality and not just the quantity of flour that the country produces, Turkey exports its flour to different countries, and its wheat flour happens to top the list of Turkish products that are exported to the Philippines. It is used mainly to produce flour-based products, such as breads, noodles and lumpia wrappers. Its good quality and affordability make Turkish flour a good alternative for community bakeries and noodle manufacturers to use, and it benefits not just the bakers but also the consumers because it keeps the production cost down and bakers are able to pass these savings on to consumers by keeping bread prices low.
To stress the benefits of using Turkish wheat flour in baking, the Turkish Flour Yeast & Ingredients Promotion Group (TFYI) had organized a Turkish Bread Making Workshop for the media at the Filipino-Chinese Bakers Association Inc. (FCBAI) kitchen in Manila. In partnership with the FCBAI, the TFYI brought in renowned Turkish pastry chef Emin Aydemir to conduct the baking demonstration cum hands-on class, which featured Turkish breads such as Simit, Pogaca, Gozleme, Paskalya and Turkish Pan Bread.
One particularly interesting Turkish bread is “twisted” and “braided” — Simit, a common bread sold in the streets of Turkey by cart vendors, encrusted with sesame seeds, and eaten as is or with an array of toppings or fillings.
For the dough:
1 kg. Turkish hard flour (all purpose)
10 grams sugar
15 grams salt
15 grams instant yeast
500-600 grams water
For the pekmes or molasses mixture:
1 liter water
200 grams molasses
1. Combine the ingredients for the dough and mix them until a homogenous mixture is obtained. The dough’s consistency should be firm to the touch. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
2. Divide the dough into 100 gram portions and form each dough into elongated shapes, then let it rest for another 15 minutes.
3. Prepare the pekmes or molasses mixture. Combine the ingredients in a bowl and mix until well blended. Set aside.
4. Put a generous amount of sesame seeds in another bowl. Set aside.
5. When the dough is ready, roll each dough into a long, thin rope.
6. Fold the rope-shaped dough in half and hold up the ends.
7. Slightly swing to let the dough twist together naturally.
8. Even out the twist and pull the two ends together to make a ring shape.
9. Using your hands, seal ends by tucking one end into the other and flattening and rolling until they come together nicely.
10. Dip the Simit dough into the pekmes or molasses mixture, then coat with sesame seeds. Place on trays and let rest for 10 minutes. Make sure to stretch the Simit and squeeze a little so that the sesame seeds will stick to the dough.
11. Place the dough on a proofer at a temperature of 35°C for 20 minutes with zero humidity.
12. Bake in a preheated 220°C oven for 10 minutes.
13. Serve warm.
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