Hi there! I can't believe it's been so long since we've seen each other! What have you been up to? How is your summer going? We have SO MUCH to talk about.
The life of an expat is full of entrances and exits. People coming and going, moving on to work assignments in other countries, fleeing the heat of whatever tropical or desert location we've been assigned to to go back home to the cool winds of England or Colorado for the summer. But I'm still here, plugging away, enjoying the Ramadan lights and crazy nights of Cairo.
This blog though, has been an empty space for a while, and I'm going to dive more deeply into the reason for that in my next post. Suffice it to say, I've been going through a few stomach issues lately that have taken the wind completely out of my cooking sails. I've also done quite a bit of traveling that has kept me out of the kitchen: to England and Scotland, to spend a week walking Hadrian's Wall with some friends, to Vienna for wine tasting and the great Egon Schiele tour, and to watch my husband celebrity spot cellists (like these guys) on the street. And finally we had a whirlwind tour to the States to see some dear friends get married in their backyard and spend a few days in our house in Chicago doing fun things like going to the dentist and doing some home repairs.
As usual, our suitcase on our return flight from America looked like a bizarre hodgepodge that I'm sure TSA got a good laugh out of. We had: a small kilim carpet that I thought would look better in the Cairo apartment, a metal file (for my husband's cello endpin), a few bottles of wine, bags of millet and flax seed, Angostura bitters, and some strange odds and ends I wanted for the apartment here like a small metal coat rack and a framed picture. Also, a whole lotta bubble wrap.
The millet and flax were mainly because I wanted to make an imitation of a bread they sell at Whole Foods called seedlicious bread (actually it's called seeduction, but I always get it mixed up and call it seedlicious). Cairo bread is mainly centered around the local bran-coated flatbread (aish) and a few other flatbreads and spongy sandwich breads. Darker breads are very difficult to find (just like in Algiers) and I'm already in the habit of making my own. (For any Cairenes, the Bread Basket, a German bakery in Ma'adi, does make good laugen rolls and a dark bread called dinkel that I like, they will also deliver to other parts of the city.)
So, I looked up a recipe for imitation seedlicious bread, ignored about half of the directions, and voila. It's a pretty easy bread to make, and since I make my own granola regularly, I always have a bunch of seeds and grains on hand anyway. My goal is to back to regular posting from here on out, so let's talk soon, okay?!
This is one of the better uses of millet that I know of, an otherwise dull grain in my opinion. I liked the combination of whole wheat and rye, but you could play around with other flours or use all of one or the other if you prefer.
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons molasses (I used date molasses because it's easiest to get here)
2 tablespoons honey
1 package active dry yeast or 1 tablespoon instant yeast (like SAF)
1 cup whole all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup dark rye flour, plus more for sprinkling
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon flax seeds
2 tablespoons millet
1. Place the warm water, molasses, and honey in the bowl and sprinkle over the yeast. Wait a few minutes for the yeast to bloom. Meanwhile, combine the three flours and the salt in a bowl and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to the water and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. The dough should be a little more damp than a normal bread dough, but if it looks like it is too damp to knead, then sprinkle in some more flour. Add all the seeds and millet to the bowl, and begin to knead the bread dough in the bowl. Knead until the seeds are well worked into the dough and the dough becomes smoother, adding flour as needed, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a round, coat the round with vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise for about 1 hour. It will not fully double in volume, but it should grow by about 2/3rds.
2. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease a loaf pan. Press down the dough, transfer it to the baking sheet or pan, gently patting it into shape. Again cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let the bread rise until nearly doubled, about another 40 minutes. Bake the bread until darkened on the outside and it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, 40-45 minutes. Cool on a rack. Makes good toast.