Aniseed bread with wild figs

Aniseed bread with wild figs

By
From
Saha
Makes
1 loaf
Photographer
Matt Harvey

We came across a number of different versions of hard aniseed breads in bakeries around Syria. This is our interpretation, and although quite different, it is utterly delicious – a hint of sweetness from the aniseed and figs, a lovely crumbly texture and melting crust. The bread is wonderful when it’s served warm from the oven with lashings of cold unsalted butter or a dollop of tart jam, and it works equally well with the savoury flavours of creamy blue cheese, Brie, a strong Cheddar with bite – or, if you want to stay Middle Eastern, a sharp, salty feta.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
3/4 tablespoon dry yeast
pinch sugar
180ml warm water
260g semolina
225g plain flour
1 tablespoon aniseed seeds, plus extra to sprinkle on top
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, plus extra to sprinkle on top
dried wild figs, stalks removed and diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
180ml olive oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water

Method

  1. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 140 ml of the warm water and set aside for 10 minutes until it begins to froth.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the semolina, flour, aniseed, sesame seeds, dried figs and salt, then rub in the oil. Stir the egg into the dry ingredients. Pour on the frothy yeast and use your hands to bring the mixture together to form a dough. Add the remaining warm water – plus a little more, if necessary. The dough should be firm, and not wet or sticky.
  3. Use your hands or the dough hook on an electric mixer to knead the dough vigorously for 10 minutes, until it is smooth and shiny. Lightly oil the ball of dough and put it into a bowl. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for 2 hours, by which time it should have doubled in size.
  4. Knock the dough back, then shape it into a round that measures roughly 20 x 3 cm and put it on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Whisk together the egg yolk and water and brush the top of the loaf. Sprinkle on ½ teaspoon aniseed and 1 teaspoon sesame seeds and leave in a warm place for another 45 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200°C and bake the bread for 20–30 minutes, until it is a lovely golden brown. It should sound hollow when you tap the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack and leave until completely cool before eating – if you can resist!
Tags:
Saha
Malouf
Lucy
Greg
Lebanon
Lebanese
Syria
Syrian
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