Let’s start with the bread

This is the one that really excites me, for I know the flavours that went into it; and I know the mixture of fragrances that rose from the oven as it baked.  I might have to cut a little bit off, for the lunchtime soup, just to make sure it is good enough to serve to the special ones in life you understand.


From the cupboard you need to take:

125g cold soured cream; 150ml cold water; 100ml boiling water; 3 tsp seal salt flakes, crushed, extra for topping; 2 tsp caster sugar; 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast; 550g strong white bread flour; 3 tbsp. cumin seeds; 1 tbsp. ground coriander; 1 tbsp. dried mint; 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes; 200ml extra virgin olive oil; 4 sprigs thyme, leaves picked; 1 tsp nigella seeds; 1 tsp sumac.

So this is no ordinary bread.  This is Eastern-style Focaccia, brought to you from Persiana.  It is no ordinary bread.  Here’s what you need to do:

Mix the soured cream with the cold and boiling water.  Add the salt with the sugar and yeast, then blend in the flour – see, it’s different right from the start – 2 tbsp of the cumin seeds, the ground coriander, dried mint and chilli flakes until the mixture forms a rough ball.  Cover with cling film – what, no kneading? – and leave to rest in a warm place to rise for 10 minutes.

Line a large roasting tin with non-stick baking paper and place dough on top.  Stretch out to size of tin, then, using fingers, poke deep holes all over.  Cover the tin with cling and leave to rest for an hour or more.

Preheat oven to 200C/gas6.  Remove cling from dough and drizzle the olive oil over it, ensuring it covers every nook and cranny – clearly a Persian term – of the dough.  A silicone brush may help.  Sprinkle the entire surface of the dough liberally with uncrushed sea salt flakes, thyme leaves, nigella seeds, the remaining cumin seeds and the sumac.  Bake at top of oven for 25-30 mins until golden brown.




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