The first recipe in the Breads section of The Modern Baker is Armenian “Barbary” Bread, a bread of dubious origin. It is variously claimed by Armenians, Afghans, and Iranians as their own. Whoever invented it, I baked it as part of the Modern Baker Challenge.
Although the Challenge has moved from quick breads into yeast-risen breads, this recipe still came together quickly. It has a fairly short ingredients list: AP flour, WW flour, salt, yeast, warm water, olive oil, and black sesame seeds. Although Nick Malgieri calls for active dry yeast, I used instant yeast, as that’s what I keep on hand for baking. I had some active dry yeast in the fridge, but I tested some of it, and it was dead.
I combined the dry ingredients (except for the sesame seeds) in one bowl, and the water and oil in another bowl. Then I used my dough whisk to stir the flour mixture into the liquids, one cup at a time. Once all the flour was mixed in, I had a shaggy dough, which I covered and let rest for 20 minutes.
After the dough rested, I scraped it out onto a Silpat and gave it a few stretch and folds. Then I rolled it into a boule, put it in an oiled bowl, and set it aside to ferment for about two hours.
After the dough doubled in bulk, I gently removed it from the bowl and pressed and patted the dough into shape. I halved the recipe, so I only made one loaf.
I let the dough proof for an hour, until it was well-risen.
I dimpled the dough gently with my fingertips, then sprinkled it with black sesame seeds.
I baked the bread for about 20 minutes at 425° F, until the loaf was well-browned and springy to the touch.
NM recommends eating this with Middle Eastern foods like hummus or baba ganoush. I didn’t have either of these on hand, so we ate the bread plain. It had a fairly dense, even crumb, and the crust was soft and slightly chewy. Most of the sesame seeds fell off; next time, I would brush the loaf with an egg wash before applying the seeds to help them stick better.
I found the taste good but not remarkable. I could see how it would make a good base for cheeses or spreads. My younger daughter, on the other hand, couldn’t get enough of it. She ate four or five pieces the day I made it and polished it off over the next few days.
I will try this bread again when I have some hummus or feta to eat with it. And it has me looking forward to the rest of the breads in this section.