During the summer holidays I had plenty of time to indulge in new cook books and try some new ideas as well as variations on my favourite things. One of those is breadmaking. I’m always attracted to trying a new bread recipe especially when it comes from a country where I know little of their cooking culture. This time it was Armenia and Georgia , thanks to Olia Hercules marvellous new book. An earlier visit to a Georgian restaurant in Paris had already whetted my appetite. Along with various delicious dishes on the menu we ate superb kachapouri, a bread filled with cheese, hot from the oven. We left the restaurant happy and full, but also clutching a little packet of the essential Georgian spice, blue fenugreek that the chef kindly gave us. I was hooked and eager to find out more.
The first loaf I chose from Olia’s book was filled with a dried bean mix and as I had broad beans in the freezer I realised that this was the loaf for me to try . I had been wondering just what I would do with this surplus supply. My beans, from neglect were too big and dry when I picked them, so I blanched and froze them thinking that soup would be the only way I could use them up. The other alternative to just throw them on the compost wasn’t an option in my mind. Now I had a new outlet for using at least some of them.
I was fascinated by the buttering and rolling of the dough to give the finished loaves, crispy and buttery layered textures. Many cuisines have ways of layering dough to make it flaky, but this method was rather different. After the final rolling up and rolling out I spread the dough with the garlicky bean filling. Once more rolled up and then wound into a snail shape it was ready for the final proving. Warm from the oven the loaf was served for lunch, in fact I baked two and froze the third unbaked for later on. Of course you can find dried broadbeans in middle eastern or mediteranean stores but you will have to cook them before proceeding to make the bread. The subtle bean filling and the flaky dough made a memorable loaf of bread.
The other absolute favourite recipe from Kaukasis that I made over and over, filling jars until we had almost run out of them was a savoury spicy plum sauce using the blue fenugreek. Far nicer than any ketchup like condiment we will be digging into the jars of this sauce all year I think. Thank you Olia.
If you are passionate about good bread you may want to follow the links on this website to the practical class for sourdough on Saturday 6th October or the bread class in February for getting familiar with basic yeast breads and a variety of loaves you can make with confidence.