It is amazing how one can be a foodie (for lack of a better term) and still find “new” food items to dream about. Like the traditional bread from Uzbekistan, a fascinating country north of Afghanistan. A couple of months ago I stumbled on this blog post and could not stop thinking about the beauty of those flat breads. The dough can be very simple, although I found countless recipe variations for them. From type of flour to amount of yeast, duration of fermentation, type of fat added, it’s hard to find a common denominator. But the basic characteristic is the stamping of beautiful images on the dough right before baking. I found a beautiful bread stamp for sale at Etsy, and a few weeks later it joined our kitchen. I could not wait to try it!

(adapted from this video)

1 + 1/2 cups water, at room temperature
1 cup yogurt, full-fat
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups whole-wheat flour (I needed to add quite a bit more)
1 tsp salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix all ingredients in the order listed in a bowl. Knead by hand for 10 minutes, or if using a KitchenAid type mixer, knead at medium speed for 6 minutes. If the dough seems too slack, add more flour at this point. It should feel sticky, but hold together nicely.

Transfer dough to a clean bowl lightly brushed with oil. Cover and allow it to ferment at room temperature for 2 hours.

Divide the dough in 4 portions, shape each as a small ball. Cover and leave at room temperature for 5 minutes.

Flatten each ball into a round. Press the center, forming a thicker layer of dough all around the perimeter. Use a spoon and a bread stamp to decorate the surface.

Bake in a 375 F oven inside a Dutch oven for about 20 minutes. Remove the cover after 10 minutes. If you have a large enough Dutch oven, you can bake two at a time. If baking one at a time, leave the balls covered and make the decorations right before baking.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The recipe I am sharing is in fact my second attempt at making Uzbek flat breads. For my first adventure, I had not found a detailed recipe, it was more a vague set of instructions, so I made my own formula and used the fermentation time suggested. It contained quite a bit of yeast, and the proof fermentation was short, only 40 minutes.  The result was a bread that rose so much during baking that the pattern of the stamp was lost.  Below you see before and after pictures.

I was a bit disappointed, even though the bread tasted pretty good. I wanted my pattern to show. I asked for help in a bread Facebook page, and got great advice. Including the link to that youtube video with the recipe I used.  Worked like a charm! For my next time I intend to use 75% white bread flour and 25% whole wheat or spelt. I think it would make a nice texture, and probably need a little less flour during kneading.

As to the decoration, you can do pretty much whatever you feel like it. I opted for the technique in the video. It uses a spoon all around the edge, then the stamp goes in the center. Next, you pinch the dough with two fingers around the stamp. But you can do several rounds of stamps in the center instead, leave the dough plain all around. I imagine that each family has their own way to decorate their bread.

My design was approved by all members of our family… 

The bread was delicious with hummus, with goat cheese, and black olive tapenade. Sliced like a pita, it was fantastic to deliver fresh tomatoes juicy with a drizzle of olive oil and oregano.  Since learning about Uzbek flat bread, also called Lepyoshka, I’ve been fascinated by that country. You can find some nice pictures of Uzbekistan in this link.   

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You know you’ve been blogging for too long when you’ve got several focaccia recipes in your site…  Granted, I had no intention of trying a new recipe. Instead, for our Halloween party I was set on using one of my tried and true blogged about not too long ago. However, in typical Sally fashion, I never bothered to check the recipe the day before.  I knew I would be up very early and c’mon, how long can a focaccia dough take?  It turns out that very long. For the recipe I had in mind, the dough goes through a fermentation overnight in the fridge. Bummer.  A quick plan B was set into motion, and a frantic calm and collected google search took me to one of Anne Burrell’s recipes from years ago. Not surprising when Anne is concerned, her focaccia calls for a substantial amount of olive oil, more than any other I’ve ever made.  I actually cut the amount a little and it was still delicious and with a crust that left our guests going back for seconds. And thirds. A very simple recipe to put together even if you decide to bake focaccia on a whim.

Anne Burrell Focaccia

(slightly modified from Food TV Network)

1 3/4 cups warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
2 tsp Herbes de Provence
3/4  cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided (1/2 cup + 1/4 cup)
a little more olive oil for a final drizzle on top

Combine the warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Put the bowl in a warm, not hot or cool, place until the yeast is bubbling and aromatic, at least 15 minutes.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, 1/2 cup olive oil and the yeast mixture on low-speed. Once the dough has come together, continue to knead for 5 to 6 minutes on a medium speed until it becomes smooth and soft. Give it a sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky.

Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly floured surface, then knead it by hand 1 or 2 times. Again, give it another sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky.

Coat the inside of the mixer bowl lightly with olive oil and return the dough to the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, at least 1 hour.

Coat a jelly roll pan with the remaining 1/4  cup olive oil. Put the dough onto the jelly roll pan and begin pressing it out to fit the size of the pan. Turn the dough over to coat the other side with the olive oil. Continue to stretch the dough to fit the pan. As you are doing so, spread your fingers out and make finger holes all the way through the dough.

Put the dough in the warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. While the dough is rising a second time, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Liberally sprinkle the top of the focaccia with some coarse sea salt and Herbes de Provence, then lightly drizzle a little oil on top. Bake the dough until the top of the loaf is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the focaccia from the oven and let it cool before cutting and serving.


to print the recipe, click here


Comments: Anne Burrell’s original version calls for a full cup of olive oil, half of it for the dough and half poured on the baking sheet. I simply could not bring myself to use so much oil, so I wrote the recipe with 3/4 cup total, but it could have been just a little less than that.  It was still decadent. You know how a good croissant leaves your fingers a bit coated with butter?  This focaccia will do the same. As Anne likes to say… accept it and move on.  Also, my personal advice for the move on part: increase your running distance a little bit next day, or add a few more push-ups and bicep curls to your routine…


This recipe is not:







South-Beach friendly



However, it is MIGHTY TASTY! 


Anne Burrell Focaccia2

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