“I can make soup from a stone,” said the man. “You can?” said the woman. “Show me.” -European Folktale
Stone Soup is good. But really, making Stone Soup is so yesterday! This month, we’ve shown that we can make bread with stones….
Bread Baking Babes: Persian Pebble Bread, August 2021
Ha. Did I say that Stone Soup was so yesterday? Pebble Bread is even older!
[Y]easted or unleavened flatbreads are eaten alongside most meals in Iran. You can find breads such as barbari, sangak, lavaash or taftoon in speciality Iranian stores.
Iranian flatbreads are some of the oldest in the world, their popularity spreading across the Levant and into India, where the locals adopted the Farsi word for bread, ‘naan‘. There are bakeries on every street corner in Iran and people buy freshly baked breads daily to eat with every meal. The most popular kinds are yeasted flatbreads such as naan-e barbari or naan-e sangak, which are baked in a tanoor (a traditional clay oven) in huge pieces, up to a metre long. They are tantalisingly soft and fluffy on the inside, with a firm crust.
– Yasmin Khan, The Saffron Tales, p.23&59
Sangak (‘pebble’) is the diminutive of sang (‘stone’). This bread is called “pebble-bread” because the bottom of the oven in which it is baked is formed by a sloping bank of pebbles, on which the flat cakes of dough are thrown. it is very pleasant to the taste, and the only objection to it is that sometimes a stray pebble gets incorporated in its substance, to the manifest peril of the teeth of the consumer.
– Edward Granville Browne, A Year Amongst the Persians, p.109
Sangyak: […] Top oiled and well-indented with fingertips. Baked in a traditional oven on a bed of hot pebbles, it is a bubbly, crisp flat bread, usually made with wholemeal flour.
– Tess Mallos, Iran : Persian Breads, Complete Middle East Cookbook, p295
There’s a kind of reverence surrounding two of the breads of Iran. One is the classic breakfast bread called barbari, with a ridged browned top, and the other is sangak, the chewy, textured “pebble bread” that most often accompanies lunch and supper. […] The traditional oven of a sangak bakery has a tall, narrow opening and inside the cavern of the oven is a wall of gravel sloping upward toward the back. Sang means stone or pebble in Persian, so sangak refers to bread baked on a bed of stones. […] It’s possible to make reasonable versions of [sangak] […] in a home oven if you have […] a supply of small stones […] If you have a starter going, use it rather than the yeast and lengthen the proofing times as necessary.
– Naomi Duguid, “Bread in Iran”, Taste of Persia: A Cook’s Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan, p.258
Since getting our river stones last August, we have baked Naan Sangak on our gas barbecue in the summer months, and in the oven over the winter.
Every time, it’s quite thrilling to pour the dough over the hot stones just before baking. It’s also quite thrilling to pull the stones off the baked bread. In fact, it’s a handy way to tell if the bread is fully baked. The stones will NOT release themselves if the bread isn’t quite baked!
I posted about our very first effort last August and it was such a revelation that baking bread on hot stones works so wonderfully!
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