Last Sunday we had two couples of really good, long-standing friends round for lunch and I did a lot of work on an Axis of Evil Middle Eastern meal mostly drawn from Claudia Roden’s fabuloso “Arabesque”. We saw her in discussion with Michelle Roberts at the Bath Literary Festival a few years ago – boy did they take the piss out of us men in the kitchen. It was La Claudia who made the joke about calling the book the “Axis of Evil”. I never thought I would be in sympathy with the Muslim Brotherhood but with what’s going on in Egypt the meal was a sort of act of sort of solidarity.
Anyway, I’ve been trying to find the time to do some work on North African breads adapting stuff from Paula Woolfert’s “The Food of Morocco”. At least she acknowledges that not only is sourdough traditional but that there are a whole lot of different starters such as date and garlic – I just haven’t had space to seek out some source material.
Anyway(2), having adapted one of Paula’s recipes I thought I would try an adaption of one of my own doughs because, when you get down to it, there’s no such thing as authenticity. And I came up with a semolina bread that I was reasonably happy with. As they came out of the oven a friend appeared on the doorstep and, so as not to bring bad luck on myself, she got a couple of loaves to go.
I also had some baguette dough in the fridge for emergencies. Middle of the night, lying there wondering if there were enough flat breads for the next day’s lunch, I had the idea of turning out some longer-type pides. Therefore, the next morning I stretched out the dough for six x 200g baguettes to make three pides, brushed them with milk and sprinkled with zataar. They were about 16 inches long and 5 wide.
Thing was, I was pretty pleased with the semolina breads but our guests fell on the pide. They are familiar with with my breads so I pointed out that the “pide” was only my campagne dough but they chose to go deaf because the visuals were more interesting.
Something to bear in mind if you are trying to sell bread.