An authentic Palestinian bread from Jaffa that is served as a main meal along with a bowl of soup or a salad, this “Yafawi Sfeeha”, also known as “Milwayeh” which means twisted, is crispy yet fluffy and full of flavour.
The dough is a sort of un-yeasted bread dough that needs to be stretched out really thin, to the point where you can see through it, before adding the filling and rolling it up. The shaping technique takes a bit of practice to get right but you get the hang of it after you have done a couple.
The filling is traditionally meat based but I have chosen to make a cheese version using halloumi as that is what I had available. Feta would be great too.
small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
fresh ground black pepper
Place the flour, salt, sugar, powdered milk and vegetable oil in a bowl and gradually add the water until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough. Turn out onto a work surface and knead for about 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into 8 even pieces and shape into balls, place on a greased tray and cover with oiled clingfilm, leave to rest for at least a couple of hours and up to overnight.
Once the dough has rested make the filling, simply mix together the grated cheese, beaten egg and chopped parsley in a bowl with some freshly ground black pepper. Preheat the oven to 200C.
Grease a work surface and your hands well with olive oil or ghee; take one ball of dough and use your hands to gently spread it out on the oiled surface into a large, thin circle. You should be able to spread it out to about 25cm (10in) wide and it should be thin enough to see through.
Fold one side of the circle over the middle, then the other, so that the dough is almost folded into thirds.
Spread some of the filling along one edge of the dough, fold the closest side over the top of the filling then roll it up into a tight sausage; coil the sausage up in a spiral shape, place the bun on a baking tray.
Re-grease the work surface and your hands and repeat with the remaining balls of dough.
Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.
The recipe is very loosely adapted from traditional Georgian versions but makes use of what I had in at the time. First, for a lack of Georgian cheese supplies, I used a more generic assortment of cheeses including parmesan and mozzarella, which yielded a satisfactory gooey-ness and savoury flavour. Instead of mixing them with egg before baking, as is traditional, I used a thick bechamel sauce because I thought it would be a nice change and provide a creamier filling. You can substitute the sauce for egg if you like or even crack one on top when baking! The added tapenade really gave the bread another depth of savouriness and flavour. Rip off the crust and dunk it into the gooey centre for ultimate yum!
Makes 4 large breads.
450g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon caster sugar
2 x 7g sachets fast action dried yeast
300ml warm water
2 Tablespoons good olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp plain flour
¾ cup milk, cold
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg, plus more to top
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
320g of equal parts of grated mozzarella and parmesan cheese
4-6 tbsp black olive tapenade (recipe in instructions)
For the dough: Place salt and flour into a large bowl. Add the sugar and yeast but do not let the yeast directly contact the salt.
Pour in the water and olive oil. Mix together with your fingers.
Work the dough into a soft warm ball then slap it onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until soft and elastic.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled, large bowl and lightly oil the dough itself so a crust does not form. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag and leave in a warm place for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
For the filling: While the dough is proofing, cook/stir butter and flour in a pan over medium heat for 1 min. Add the cold milk and whisk the mixture continuously until it starts to simmer and thicken. The consistency should be like mayonnaise. Add the grated nutmeg then season with a bit of salt and black pepper. Let the sauce COOL COMPLETELY then evenly mix in the grated cheese (the cheese should not melt). Set aside.
If you’re making your own tapenade: In a food-processor, combine 155g pitted black olives, 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 3 cloves of garlic, 3 anchovy fillets, 3/4 tsp white wine vinegar and 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Puree the mixture as smoothly as you can. Set aside.
To bake the bread:Preheat the oven on 250C, with a pizza-stone or large inverted cast-iron pan in the middle.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a large oval with pointy tips then transfer to a piece of parchment paper. Rub 1-2 tbsp of tapenade over the dough, then pile ¼ of the cheese-mixture across the middle. Fold the dough over to partially cover the cheese, then bring the 2 ends together and tuck the tips underneath itself, then pinch at the bottom so it sticks. Repeat with the others.
Slide the parchment with the bread on top, onto the pizza-stone or inverted cast-iron pan. Bake for 10 min until golden browned on all sides.
My rubbish phone picture really doesn’t do this dish justice but for something I rustled up out of odds and ends in the fridge, it tastes and smells incredible! The rich, spicy sauce is perfect for dunking fresh garlicky bread into.
Serves 1 as a main, 2 as a side
1 cooking chorizo, case removed and sliced
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp tomato puree
3 cherry tomatoes, chopped
dash of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp fresh basil
Handful of spinach
Strong goats cheese
Garlic bread, to serve
Heat the oven to 200C. Place a frying pan over medium heat and add the sliced chorizo. Cook the chorizo gently until it begins to release its oils. Flip the slices and continue to fry until beginning to brown. Drain and set aside.
Discard most of the chorizo oil from the pan but keep a little to fry the garlic and peppers in until slightly softened. Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, balsamic, seasoning and basil to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes. Put the spinach in the pan along with a dash of water and cover the pan so the spinach wilts.
Return the chorizo to the pan and stir everything well to combine. Transfer to a little baking dish. Top with crumbled goats cheese.
Place the dish on a baking tray long with some garlic bread and bake in the oven for 12 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the garlic bread is crispy.
Remove from the oven and try to resist the temptation of shoving it in your mouth instantly. This will result in searing pain although it would be totally justified and expected once you smell how amazing this is!
This dish would work really well with any bread or even as a stir through sauce for pasta as the meaty juices would combine beautifully.
Traditionally, this is a celebratory cheese- and egg-stuffed pastry served up during Ramadan and Easter in Cyprus. These delicious snacks also make a hearty breakfast when served with olives, tomato and punchy Cypriot coffee.
Outside of Cyprus, these cheese breads are commonly called flaounes in Greek or pilavuna in Turkish. In BallisticBaker they are called heaven!
You need to make the bread dough first, that acts as a ‘bread pastry’ casing for the filling, of cheese, eggs and mint. Traditionally you would use Cypriot cheeses in the filling such as flaouna cheese and halloumi, but as it is hard to get flaouna cheese outside of Cyprus, I have offered alternatives of punchy parmesan and mature cheddar to deliver a big savoury flavour.
I hope you enjoy these little Cypriot pastries if you make them (which you need to). If you have a sweet tooth, you can also add sultanas to the filling but I prefer them completely savoury.
375g of strong white bread flour
7g of fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp of olive oil
150-200ml of water, tepid, to mix
75g of cheddar, grated
75g of halloumi, grated
25g of Parmesan, grated
1 tsp of plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp of dried mint or half bunch fresh mint, chopped finely
1 large egg, beaten
25g of sultanas, optional
1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients, adding more water if the mixture is too dry. Knead for 10 minutes by hand on a lightly oiled work surface. Place the dough into a large bowl and cover with an oiled piece of cling film. Leave in warm place to rise for 1 hour.
To make the filling, mix the egg with the remaining ingredients. Add a little of the egg you will be using for the glaze if needed – you don’t want the final mixture to be too runny. If you add the egg and it gets too runny, add more cheese and flour to compensate. The mixture should be stiff enough to roll into balls.
Roll out the dough and cut into 3 or 4 pieces. Roll out each piece to a square or a round and place a ball of filling in the middle. Bring the corners up to almost cover the filling
Brush the pastries with the beaten egg all over and sprinkle sesame seeds over the top and sides.
Place the pastries on the baking tray and bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes, or until the pastries are well risen, dark golden brown and the filling has puffed up.
Serve warm or cold; perfect for breakfast, brunch or lunch when sliced and served with olives, cheese and sliced tomatoes… and coffee!
I think these are best eaten about an hour after you’ve removed them from the oven. The bread is so fluffy and fresh and the filling is still slightly oozy. You can eat them cold or reheat in a warm oven for 10 minutes to refresh.
One of my first ever posts was a recipe for Char Sui Chicken Steamed Buns. I have recently rediscovered my love for real authentic Chinese cuisine, especially dim sum. This is an alternative take on a steamed bun with a full flavoured, spicy mushroom filling encased by pillow-soft dough.
For the dough:
1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water (just warm to the touch)
2 Tablespoons canola oil
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
For the filling:
250g fresh shitake mushrooms
250g fresh chestnut mushrooms
1 tsp oil
1 garlic clove, grated
A knob of ginger, grated
½ onion, finely chopped
1 tsp curry powder
¼ tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp Soy sauce
100ml approx. Beef stock
Cornflour slurry (1 tsp cornflour mixed with 1-2 tsp water)
Fresh ground black pepper
A handful of frozen peas
The dough: Put the yeast in a small bowl, add the water and set aside for 1 minute to proof.
Whisk in the oil to blend and dissolve the yeast. Set aside.
Combine the sugar, baking powder and flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture. Slowly stir with a wooden spoon, moving from the centre toward the rim, to work in all the flour. (Add lukewarm water by the teaspoon if this doesn’t happen with relative ease.) Keep stirring as a ragged, soft mass forms. Then use your fingers to gather and pat the dough together into a ball. Transfer to a work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth, fingertip-soft and slightly elastic. (You shouldn’t need any additional flour on the work surface if the dough was properly made. Keep kneading, and after the first minute or two, the dough shouldn’t stick to your fingers. If it does, work in a sprinkling of flour.) Press your finger into the dough; the dough should spring back, with a faint indentation remaining.
Lightly oil a clean bowl and add the dough.
Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm, draft-free place to rise until nearly doubled, 30-45 minutes (timing will vary depending on the temperature of the room). The dough is now ready to use. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate the dough until needed.
The filling: While the dough is rising, gently fry the onion, garlic and ginger in the oil in a wok until softened. Roughly chop the mushrooms and add to the wok. Fry for a couple of minutes to soften then add the spices and soy sauce.
Stir everything to combine then add the beef stock. Add the cornflour slurry and mix well. The mushroom mix should be quite thick. Add more beef stock if you think it is too thick. Add the peas and season with pepper. Stir everything to combine then transfer to a bowl to cool.
Assemble: Transfer the dough to a very lightly floured work surface, gather it into a ball and then pat it to flatten it into a thick disk.
Cut the disk in half and keep the second half covered to prevent it from drying out.
Roll the first half into a 12” log and then cut it crosswise into 8 even pieces.
Flatten one piece of dough into a ¼” thick disk, moistening your hands with a little water if the dough becomes too dry.
Use an Asian dumpling pin (or regular rolling pin) roll the pieces into circles about 3 ¼” in diameter, rolling the outer edges thinner than the centre.
To assemble the buns: hold a dough circle in a slightly cupped hand.
Use a spoon or fork to centre about 4 teaspoons of filling on the dough circle, pressing down very gently and keeping about ½”- ¾” of the dough clear on all sides; your hand will automatically close slightly.
Use the thumb of the hand cradling the bun to push down the filling; using the fingers of the other hand, pull up the dough edge and pleat and pinch the rim together to form a closed bun.
Completely enclose the filling by pinching and twisting the dough closed.
Place the finished bun on a piece of parchment, pleated side up. (The parchment is important otherwise the buns will stick to the steamer.)
Repeat with the remaining dough and loosely cover the assembled buns with a kitchen towel until puffed and nearly doubled in size, 10-30 minutes, depending on the temperature in the room.
Steaming: When the buns are almost ready, bring water to boil in a wok and placing a steamer basket on top.
Place buns in the steamer basket, spacing them 1” apart and 1” away from the basket wall.
Cover the buns and steam until puffed and the dough is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
Transfer the buns, still on their parchment paper squares, to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Repeat steaming until all the buns are cooked.
Serve warm or room temperature with a sauce made from soy sauce and a bit of garlic chilli paste (sambal olek).
Make ahead: Can be made up to 6 hours in advance – shape and fill the buns then keep refrigerated to slow the rising process. Steam directly from the refrigerator.
To freeze: May be frozen up to 2 months. Prepare the buns fully and after steaming allow to come to room temperature then place on a parchment lined sheet pan and freeze until solid. Place frozen buns in a Ziploc for longer storage. Allow to thaw at room temperature for 15 minutes then re-steam 12-15 minutes to warm through.
I have left the instructions for toppings very vague as you can really go to town and add whatever you like. One of my favourite pizzas is with plain tomato sauce, mozzarella and fresh basil. So simple but so tasty. The pizza pictured was created as I didn’t have those things at the time and resorted to defrosting the leftovers from a spicy meatball meal with some jalapenos, chorizo slices and cheddar cheese thrown into the mix. Again, a fantastic combo but the star of the show is really the pizza base. Sourdough starter gives the dough a light, fluffy inside and crusty outside with a flavourful tang and great chew. Perfect for dunking into a healthy portion of garlic mayo too!
Makes 3-4 pizzas
500g strong white bread flour
300ml lukewarm water
120-200g starter dough, depending on how liquid yours is (see my sourdough starter page for the recipe)
DAY BEFORE BAKING:
Prepare the dough one day ahead. In a large mixing bowl mix the flour, water and the olive oil. Cover with a cloth and set aside for 30 minutes. Add the active sourdough starter and sea salt. Start to knead with your hands. Knead 15 minutes.
Let the dough proof in a bowl, covered with a cloth for 5 hours at a room temperature (18 – 25°C).
Divide the dough onto four parts, each weighting around 250g. Shape in a small round shape. Put the dough on a tray, cover with cloth and reserve in the refrigerator. The dough is now ready for baking. It can rest in the fridge for up to 72 hours.
DAY OF BAKING:
Preheat the oven to the highest temperature. Twenty minutes before baking lightly dust a work surface with flour and stretch the dough in a pizza shape.
Use a baking stone for baking pizza, if you have it. The stone also needs to preheat. Line the baking stone with parchment paper, bake the pizza directly on parchment paper.
Add your favourite topping and bake for 8-12 minutes on a baking tray/pizza stone, lined with parchment paper, on the highest temperature.
Bread and butter pudding is a traditional English pudding that goes easy on the wallet and is a fantastic way to use up your old loaves. It is one of my all-time favourites! Bread that is a couple of days old works best for this as it soaks up the lovely eggy custard so you get a crunchy, golden top and a soft, delicate centre. Don’t use pre-sliced bread. It is nowhere near as nice. You’ve been warned.
8 slices white bread
freshly grated nutmeg
approx 2 0z (50 g) caster sugar
1/2 oz (10g) candied lemon or orange peel, finely chopped
2 oz (50 g) currants
10 fl oz (275 ml) milk
2½ fl oz (60 ml) double cream
2 oz (50 g) caster sugar
1tsp cinnamon (optional)
demerara sugar, for sprinkling
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160 fan.
You will also need a 2 pint (1.2 litre) enamel baking dish (one of the oblong kind), well buttered.
Butter the bread, remove the crusts and cut each slice of buttered bread in half. Now arrange one layer of buttered bread over the base of the baking dish, sprinkle the candied peel and half the currants over, then cover with another layer of the bread slices and the remainder of the currants.
Next, in a glass measuring jug, measure out the milk and add the double cream. Stir in the caster sugar and cinnamon (if using) then whisk the eggs, first on their own in a small basin and then into the milk mixture. Pour the whole lot over the bread, sprinkle over some freshly grated nutmeg and demerara sugar then bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until golden. Serve warm with cream, ice-cream or custard.
Top tip: To make your pudding boozy, soak the dried fruit in 2 tbsp of brandy, whisky or rum before adding. The liquid will make the fruit really plump and luxurious and infuse your pudding with a subtle boozy, warming flavour.