Following my interview with Hedva I was looking for a dish that embodies that Galilean feel and for me freekeh (or frikeh) answers that definition. The beginning of summer and the smoke coming up from the small fires on the wheat fields in the Beit Netofa valley are the signs of fresh freekeh which in fact is smoked green wheat – aromatic and flavorful, tasty and highly nutritious due to its being harvested before it’s actually ripe.
At first I was going to make Dania and Deanna’s ‘mejadra freekeh’, which is one of my favorite freekeh dishes, especially with a yogurt sauce. But then I started leafing through Erez Komarovsky’s The Baking Book and found this freekeh bread that I’ve already had my eye on for some time. Because the dough takes quite a long time to rise, which means planning ahead, I didn’t make it before, but now came a good opportunity to try this recipe. I wasn’t really concerned about its success since all the other recipes I already tried from this great book have proved themselves.
Even though this bread is made with yeast and not sourdough (sorry, Uri), it deserves to be put on the favorite breads list – it’s crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside with chewy bits of wheat and has a delicate smoky aroma. It’s wonderful with butter, but I ate it (don’t laugh, it’s good) with whole tahini and beet-red horse radish, my new discovery from the last Passover.
Without further ado, this is Erez’ recipe, in which I only substituted half of the bread flour with whole wheat flour.
Ingredients (makes 2 loaves):
250 gr freekeh, medium ground, washed and drained
750 gr bread flour (or half of it substituted with whole wheat flour)
20 gr fresh yeast (or 7 gr dry yeast)
1 tsp ground allspice
500 – 550 ml water
1 Tbs (with a heap) Kosher salt
- Soak freekeh in hot water for 10 min, drain and let cool
- Sift flour into a bowl, add yeast and stir to blend, add freekeh and allspice. Start making the dough while gradually adding water. Knead for 8 min (mixer works great here), add salt and continue kneading for another 5 min. Transfer the dough into a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover and proof for 1.5 hours.
- Press the dough slightly to release the air, cover and refrigerate for 7 hours (it’s best to begin in the evening, so the second proofing will be at night)
- Empty the contents of the bowl onto a working surface lightly dusted with flour, divide the dough in half with a sharp knife and shape each into a thick, circular, pita-like form. Fold once without pressing on the edges. Place on a parchment paper, cover and leave for 1 hour for the final rise.
- Preheat the oven to 230°C with a baking stone/tray set in the lower third of the oven and a small tray on its bottom. Slide the parchment paper with the loaves onto the baking stone/tray, add ½ a glass of water to the small tray and immediately close the door. Bake for 20 min, lower the heat to 210°C and continue baking for another 15-20 min or until the crust is golden.