Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Turkish Flat Bread (Pide Ekmeği)

Bread, (“ekmek” in Turkish) is the main staple food in Turkish cuisine. Varieties include: pide ekmeği (flat bread), somun ekmeği (bread loaf which is very soft inside and crispy on the outside), sac ekmeği or yufka ekmeği (paper thin bread made on a large iron convex griddle), tandır ekmeği (thin bread made in a clay oven that is comprised of a hole in the ground and covered with clay inside), lavaş ekmeği which is also a thin type of bread baked in a clay oven and many more regional specialties. Different regions have different breads, hence I am not even able to mention all of them.

In Turkey, in almost every corner, you will run into a bakery where the aroma of bread is filling the whole street. Bakeries bake breads at least twice a day; in the early morning and in the afternoon. Fresh bread is purchased daily in Turkey. In the morning, just before breakfast, one of the family members takes a short trip to the closest bakery and picks up fresh bread. The bread is usually warm when purchased and when it enters the house, it makes its presence known with its delectable aroma.

Bread is consumed not only during breakfast, but also at lunch and at dinner. Every household purchases bread at least once a day. In villages and small towns, some people make their own breads such as sac ekmeği and tandır ekmeği. In this case, they would not purchase bread for lunch or dinner, but only for breakfast. During lunch or dinner if there is stew or soup in the menu, again, there is a rush to the bakery to get the warm and soft bread which is usually used for dipping.

The importance of bread in Turkish cuisine cannot be overstated. It is considered to be peasant food, since it is cheap and filling, nevertheless rich and poor, everyone consumes bread daily.

One of the foods that I miss the most from Turkey is the bread. A few months ago, I decided to start learning how to bake bread myself since I cannot find the same bread in bakeries.

One day, when I was talking to my parents over the msn, they happened to have a relative who used to be a baker visiting. So, I took the opportunity to ask him how to make pide ekmeği (flat bread) at home. He gave me instructions step by step. I did follow his recipe, but my first attempt to make the bread was not successful. In my second attempt, I started to change a few things here and there. The bread was better than the first time, but still not that good. In my third attempt, I made a few more changes in the process and this time it came out really good. Of course still not as good as what you would get in Turkey, but pretty good. Using the oven at home, it is almost impossible to attain the same texture and taste you would get in bakeries in Turkey.

I hope to experiment with more bread recipes and share them with you here. Here is the recipe for the flat bread.

Note: If the dough is too dry, add a little more water. If it’s too soft and sticking to your hands, then add oil to your hands in order to manage the dough.

For the Dough:
2.5 cups flour
2 packages dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup warm water

For Basting and Garnishing:
¼ cup warm milk
1 tbsp sesame seeds (black and white)

Preparation of the Dough:
Using a Stand Mixer:

Place the yeast in a bowl and add warm water. Mix well and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Place the rest of the ingredients for the dough in the mixer bowl and attach the dough hook. Add the yeasty water to the bowl and mix using speed 2 and increasing to 4 and then 6 until the dough is soft. This should not take more than 3 minutes.


Place the yeast in a deep, large bowl and add the warm water. Let it sit for about 20 minutes. Place the rest of the ingredients for the dough in the bowl and start kneading. You may need to dip your hands in the water so that the dough does not get too dry. Knead for 10-15 minutes until the dough is soft.

Making the Bread:

Cover the dough with plastic wrap or wet cheese cloth. Let the dough sit for 1 hour. The dough will rise during this time. Push the dough down and let it sit for a half hour. Divide the dough into two parts and make a ball with each one. Sprinkle some flour on the dough balls, so that the dough does not stick to your hands. Sprinkle some flour on a baking tray and let these two balls of dough rest for 15-20 minutes.

Flatten each ball with your hands and start stretching it until you reach the desired size. You could also make an oval shape instead of a round shape. With the tip of your fingers, press on the flat dough randomly to make the bread uneven on the surface. Brush with milk and sprinkle sesame seeds.

Bake at 475º F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. While the bread is baking, baste with warm milk every 5 minutes or so. Enjoy warm during breakfast or with any meal.

Add to Technorati Favorites


Soma said...

Thanks for sharing this Nihal. I miss the bread from our fav. restaurant, I can imagine how u miss it!! I should give this a try.

Patty said...

This looks really fabulous and super easy to make! I'll definitely have to try this! Thank you for sharing.

Sapuche said...

I loved reading your post about Turkish bread. One of my friends who’s living in Istanbul now always seems to be hanging out at bakeries and then telling me about how great they are. And I do remember having lots of warm bread during breakfast in Turkey. And loving it! The flat bread in your photos looks perfect, by the way. Do you have a clay oven that you use just for making bread? I have a very old oven, but I’m going to try to make the recipe you so generously shared. Thank you for that!

zerrin said...

Nihal, this is a great article on Turkish bread! As you said here, it's very important in our culture. If we don't have any bread, we don't sit for breakfast/lunch/dinner. It is a must for us to have it on table. I can't still understand how people feel full without having any bread during meals. And pide ekmeği in your picture looks so similar to the ones in bakeries here. You are so successful in your experiment.

Anonymous said...

oh wow!I cant believe the luck catching that baker friend visiting your parents..pide bread is soo great and yours does look perfect!Harika!
I know you`ll think im crazy..but you know already how I cant wait to have a garden again to be able to grow stuff..well another longtime dream of mine is to learn how to make that bread baked inside the ground..Talk about connecting to the earth!have you ever seen it being done back home? Deli kiz :)

Mediterranean Turkish Cook said...

Thanks Soma. I always enjoy sharing the recipes for my favorite foods. I hope you let me know how it turns out when you try it.

Patty, thank you. Glad to hear that you'd like to try it. Let me know the outcome please.

Sapuche, glad you liked the post. Thanks for your kind comment about the bread in the picture. No, unfortunately I do not have a clay oven, however I'd love that. Please let me know the result, when you try it.

Zerrin, yes I don't feel full without bread either. Thanks for comparing my bread to the bakeries over there. I wish I had the proper oven for baking bread!

Mia, no, I don't think you're crazy for wanting to grow your own stuff and for making bread in the oven that's in the ground. I have seen bread baked in the oven that's in the ground. If so, it's a lot of work! It needs lots of labor. About the garden, I also cannot wait to have a garden to grow my own vegetables. As technology advances, some of the natural stuff are reduced or eliminated in almost everything including food. I prefer everything natural. I don't know if I mentioned it before, but I live in an urban area and found a community garden a couple blocks from where I live. You can rent a lot for gardening (vegetables, flowers, fruit). However, I was put on waiting list and it'll take a few years before my turn comes! Hopefully, I'll have a garden where I can grow my organic vegetables before then!

Go for it and start your garden and your ground oven :)

Anonymous said...

oh I didnt know then here`s hoping we will both be able to obtain that dream..and you know what..Im sure we will!Meantime all I can say is as soon as I get mine(wherever that will be..) you are more than welcome to come and visit!
Do you have a sufficient windowsil or small terrace?are u able to grow some herbs in pots?when I lived in france,as I told u I had a zaatar plant together wth some other herbs,and believe it or not,even a small tomato plant(from a seed of a beautiful REAL Tomato I ate in a Greek island!),which I grew in pots on my kitchen windowsil..that was a great substitute for a garden!Bir gun yakin zaman..:)

Mediterranean Turkish Cook said...

Thanks for the invitation Mia! I do have a small balcony and I grow some herbs. Currently, I have rosemary, sage, parsley and dill in pots. I also had thyme, basil and a couple onions. Good for you for planting tomato plant on the windowsill! It's great when you grow it and eat from it.

Selba said...

It's so nice to read about the tradition of bread in Turkey.

I remember that I can see mostly everywhere bread stall on the streets in Turkey. Too bad, I didn't get the chance to try them because already too full from the breakfast provided by the hotels.

Funny part, how come the hotels where I stayed, mostly provided toast bread or French bread, hmmm... probably because it's continental/american breakfast. It would be wonderful if they also can serve the authentic Turkey food for breakfast :)

thenomadGourmand said...

I'm crazy abt breads! whoa..I think i'll be rght at home in Turkey! their type of bread is the healthier versions right? not so much sweet and white bread?

Mediterranean Turkish Cook said...

Selba, the bread you tried in the hotel in Turkey is most likely the Somun bread which is very similar to French bread. Traditionally, somun bread is served for breakfast as a toast or any other way you like it. In most homes in Turkey, the somun bread is consumed for breakfast. So there was nothing unusual with you having that bread at the hotel. The pide bread also can be eaten for breakfast, however mostly popular with lunch or dinner. I should have made that clear in my post. I will post a somun bread recipe in sometime in the future. Thanks for stopping by!

Thenomadgourmand, yes there are many varieties of bread in Turkey and you'd love it if you like bread. I don't know about healthier; doughy dishes in general are not very healthy. However, compared to what you get in stores here in the States, I'd definitely say that it's healthier. Sometimes, I look at the ingredients used in the bread we purchase in bakeries here and there can be a variety of familiar and unfamiliar ingredients including high fructose corn syrup. I know that the bread baked in bakeries in Turkey are pretty pure and lack the additives. I guess the healthiest would be with wheat. Thanks for stopping by!

Yosra Ahmed said...

Asalamo Alikom Nihal

Thaaaaaaaanks alot for the bread recipe :)
I'll bake it soon insha'ALLAH and tell you the results.

Have a good one.

Mediterranean kiwi said...

this is briliant - it reminds me fo teh greek lagana which we eat only once a year before the great lent

Reeni♥ said...

I have been looking for a great flat bread recipe. This fits the bill! It looks so perfect and very delicious. Home-made is always better tasting and healthier. I would like to improve my bread baking, too.

John said...

wow! looks so good.

tobias cooks! said...

I love these breads. We do get some sort of flat breads here in Greece as well, but they are not the same as the Turkish originals. Thanks for the recipe. They are great for what we call here "papara" - dipping.

Carolina deWitte said...

I love Turkish breads (and pastries too!) When I was living in Ankara my friends and I would stop by one bakery or another nearly every day after classes and have a pastry and a glass of tea or Turkish coffee. It was just part of our routine, and gave us energy to go home and study or work on assignments. I really miss it.

Eu Mulher said...

Hello my friend! I wrote this recipe of bread to do it here at home. Then I will tell you about the result.
I love the Turkish cuisine and I am loving your blog.

A kiss

Ana Kaddja


Mediterranean Turkish Cook said...

Eu Muhler, please do let me know about how the bread turns out. I hope you like it!

Sook said...

I've never had Turkish flat bread. Is it similar to Naan? Wow, I will have to try it soon! Thanks for sharing!

Mediterranean Turkish Cook said...

Sook, naan is also a delicious bread, but this is a little thicker and has a different texture. Most Turkish restaurants in the States serve this bread prior to a meal.

Ruza123 said...

I'm making very often pide(flat bread)but my recipes has little bite yogurt in's very yummy..!!

Mediterranean Turkish Cook said...

Ruza123, yes flat bread with yogurt also tastes delicious. I've tried it. Thanks for stopping by!

Mel said...

HI, what is cheese cloth in turkish and where can i buy it? grocery shops?


Mediterranean Turkish Cook said...

Mel, a cheese cloth is called 'tülbent' in Turkish. You can buy it at any grocery store. For covering the dough you may also use other types of cotton cloths.

rahmah said...

Tesheckledir! (my Turkish translation of thank you). I do miss the bread I ate in Turkey while on holiday. I had the opportunity to help make this wonderful bread (quite to my Turksh Anne protests) on one of the biggest electric pans I've ever seen! I miss the vendor after sunrise yelling "ekmek" as he pushed his cart down the street. I intend to try your recipie. thank you again Nihal.

Mediterranean Turkish Cook said...

Rahmah, tesekkur ederim. Thanks for sharing your experience. If you try the recipe please let me know how it ends up.. Thanks!


Yii-Huei Phang said...

Love this! I'm planning of making this soon, I was just wondering, is the thickness of the bread quite thick or more flat? I went to Turkey a while ago, and really enjoyed the flatbread that was quite flat and not too thick, but I've also tried some other Turkish flatbreads that are a lot thicker? And do you know how many grams or teaspoons 2 packets of yeast are?

Anonymous said...

How many grams one pack of yeast are?