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Chickpea-Leavened Bread and Rusks
The Recipe:

Makes 2 loaves, or about 20 fat rusks

Aromatic Brew:

6 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon anise or fennel  seeds
4 whole cloves
4 cups water, preferably uncarbonated spring water Chickpea Leavening
1/2 cup dried chick-peas  
  Tiny pinch of salt
2 tablespoons durum flour


Yield: 1 1/2 cups Aromatic Brew


  Fermented chickpeas
1 cup durum flour
1/2 cup Aromatic Brew
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups durum flour
1 cup all purpose or bread flour
2 tablespoons  sugar
3 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground  cinnamon optional
1 cup barley flour 
1/2 1/2 cup Aromatic Brew
  Flour for  dusting work surface
  Olive oil for greasing a shallow  11-inch-x-7-inch-by-1 1/2 inch biscuit pan
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon nigella




Prepare the steps 1 and 2 one  day in advance.

1. Rinse the aromatics.Gently crumble the bay leaves and the cinnamon stick into a saucepan, add the remaining aromatics, cover with water, and slowly bring to the boil;  simmer 5 minutes. Strain into a measuring cup and cool to lukewarm.  Discard the aromatics.

2. Meanwhile, crush the chickpeas  as described above on page 000. Place chickpeas and salt in a sterile quart mason jar. Stir in 2 tablespoons durum flour and 1 1/2 cups aromatic  brew. Cover the jar, wrap it in an heated electric blanket and leave  until the mixture fizzles and foams, 7 to 24 hours. The chickpea mixture  must ferment before continuing. It should smell pleasing and slightly yeasty; if not, discard and begin again with fresher chick peas. Store the aromatic liquid at room temperature.

3. The following day, make the sponge. Scrape the chickpeas, foam, and liquid into the workbowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until the texture of medium bulgur. Add 1 cup durum flour and 1/2 cup brew and process until foamy and well combined, 20 seconds. Scrape into the bowl, cover and let bubble in a warm place such as the folds of the heating pad, 2 hours.

4. Scrape sponge into the mixing bowl of a heavy duty mixer. Add, olive oil, remaining durum flour, bread flour, and sugar to the mixing bowl. Begin mixing with the paddle attachment  to produce a smooth and stiff dough which holds its shape. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low to medium speed for 5 minutes. Add the salt and cinnamon, if using. Increase speed to medium while adding alternatively the barley flour and 1/2 cup Aromatic Brew in small increments until the ball of dough is fluffy, pulls away from the sides of the bowl, and a small piece can be stretched without tearing, about 3 minutes.  Grasp the dough with one moistened hand and scoop it into a ball; tip it onto a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for an instant.  Dip your hands in remaining brew or water and divide the dough in half and gently shape each portion into a rough plump round by tucking under the rough edges. Leave rounds to relax for 15 minutes.

5. Dip palms into brew or water and shape each portion of dough into a smooth long pan-shaped loaf, then tip it into an oiled baking pan. Use a single-edged razor or a wet thin-bladed knife to make very deep cuts at one inch intervals the length of each loaf. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap or foil and let them rise until one-third in size, about 2 hours.

6. About 45 minutes before baking, place an empty pan on the lowest oven shelf and a stone or tiles on the middle oven shelf. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees then reduce oven heat to 400 degrees when ready to bake.

7. Brush the tops with a few teaspoons cold water and sprinkle with sesame and nigella seeds. Throw some ice cubes into the pan on the lower shelf in order to create steam. Place the bread directly on the stone or tiles and bake for 20 minutes. If the tops are browning too quickly, cover with a greased piece of paper. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake 20 minutes. Remove breads from the oven and let cool on a rack. Serve the bread warm or lightly toasted.

To Make Rusks:

Prepare steps 1 through 4. In step 5 after you have shaped the loaves, use a wet thin-bladed knife to cut each loaf into 10 one- -inch thick slices. Reform the two loaves and place them in the oiled pan. Bake as directed above for 30 minutes.  Bread is three- quarters cooked. Remove to cool on a rack while oven temperature reduces to 250 degrees. Break apart the slices, place side by side on the stone or tiles and continue baking until completely dry throughout and pale golden, about 2 hours. When cold, store the rusks in tins or cloth bags.

Recipe from Paula Wolfert's Mediterranean Grains and Greens

See Rusk Salad


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Notes arrow Rusk Salad
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