MODERN ASH BREAD

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300g all purpose flour (about 2.5 cups)
200g whole wheat flour (about 1.5 cups)
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp dry active yeast
1 tbsp. honey
3 tbsp. olive oil
350ml warm beer or water (scant 1.5 cups)

This recipe takes the ancient cooking technique, and gives to it modern ingredients, making a stretchier dough with a lighter texture that’s more enjoyable to modern palates. All the smoky flavor of the ashes without the  unleavened chewiness of the more authentic recipe.  This is a great flatbread recipe even for a regular oven, but nothing tastes quite like the ash.

Activate the yeast in the water. After five minutes, whisk in the honey, olive oil, and salt.  Add to flour and stir until a rough dough forms.

 

 

Transfer to a flat, lightly floured surface, and knead for 8-10 minutes until the dough stretches easily and springs back when you poke it.

 

 

Place in a floured bowl and set aside in warmish place to rise 4 hours, or overnight for more flavor.

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Leavened vs. unleavened dough

 

You have two options at this point. You can cut the dough into smaller, fist sized pieces and make pita.

 

Or you can make a formed loaf of bread. When ashes are ready, stretch the dough into a fat disc.

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Place directly on a layer of ashes, then bury with remaining ashes. Let cook for 30-50mins, depending on heat and amount of ashes. When bread sounds hollow if tapped, or an ancient digital instant thermometer reads 200, you’re done.

 

 

Brush off the ashes and let cool before slicing.

 

 

There’s no question this dough is more appetizing to the modern palate. It’s lighter and has a more bread like, identifiable texture.  But it’s still a primitive technique. Buried in ash, the bread doesn’t get to have much “oven spring”, and even leavened loaves still come out flat, and pretty dense for such a light stretchy dough.

But any wanting of texture is easily overcome by amazing smoky flavor unlike any bread you’ve every experienced. Enjoy.

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