Stamp! Stamp! Stamp! (BBB February 2021)

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let's keep baking! summary: an overly elaborate example of verbosity (how do you spell ‘blue pencil’?); recipe for Naan (wild yeast) with Bread Stamp, scissors, wooden skewers, fondue forks, cookie cutters, cake onion combs; still staying at home… coming up on a full year; lots of reading, including “Samarkand” by Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford, and “A Blessing of Bread” by Maggie Glezer; rabbits have been very busy, but they are not very good at hiding their holes; fun choosing which recipe to use; we love this style of bread; information about Bread Baking Babes;

нон дар нондону, калдаш дар осмон [non dar nondonu, kaldaş dar osmon] (The bread is in the basket, the key is in heaven.)
 
– Tajik saying

Bread Baking Babes (BBB) Baker’s Dozen Anniversary: Nan with Bread Stamp

Uyghur Bread

This is our 13th anniversary! Can you believe it?

Because some people are strange about the number 13 (there is a house in our neigbhourhood that is number 15 – directly next door to the west is 19 and the houses directly to the eastare 11a and 11! How confusing it must be for taxi drivers and delivery people….)

So. (heeheheee – I LOVE starting and ending a sentence with “so”) Let’s avoid that number 13; this is our “baker’s dozen” anniversary. (I was quite proud of myself when I suddenly thought of this.)

Our fearless leader, Tanna (My Kitchen in Half Cups), chose the bread we would make because, like me, she read “Samarkand” by Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford, and like me, she felt compelled to get bread stamps to make Uzbek Uyghur-style bread, or “Non”.

It is market day, shortly after daybreak, and there are boys selling cherry-red pomegranates, and old ladies with baked discs of non bread artfully wrapped in blankets to keep them warm and fresh. Tables buckle under the weight of enormous fuzzy-skinned peaches, while bubbling cauldrons of plov cast long shadows over skewered shaslik on hot charcoal that crackle deliciously in the air. […] Bakers crouch over a huge round-mouthed tandoor oven, pressing balls of dough to bake on its piping-hot stone walls. Acrobats and magicians jostle for the crowds attention
[…}
      It is lepyoshka to the Russians and çörek to the Turkmen, but to the Uzbeks and Tajiks, it is simply “non” (the word is Persian, but it is often transliterated as naan, and pronounced nahn). Right across Central Asia, these golden discs of bread are served at every meal along with steaming cups of chai.
[…]
      Once always made at home, nowadays non is increasingly sold at bakeries and markets in Uzbekistan. At the break of day leagues of men load up their bicycles with non in preparation for their morning deliveries.
      Special non utensils litter the markets and one of the best souvenirs to take home are chekich, the little tools with a hardwood handle and long metal teeth used to stamp floral or geometric patterns into the non.
[…]
      Visitors to Central Asia need to know the special status of non. Here if non is dropped on the floor, it must be placed in a place high up, like a window ledge, for beggars or birds. It is always torn by hand, never ever cut with a knife, and is never placed patterned side down.
 
– Caroline Eden, Samarkand, ‘To Kashgar for far flung noodles’, p.67; ‘Baking Non Bread’, p.151
Non is the flatbread that is made the length and breadth of Central Asia
 
– Eleanor Ford, Samarkand, ‘Non’, p.152
[T]he Uzbek bread, obi non, or in Russian “lepyoshka[…and…] various breads that look very similar to this all over Central Asia – [is] round, and pressed down in the middle, almost like a giant bagel or pizza crust. In Central Asia, bread is such a basic staple food that you get it with literally every meal, without asking for it. If you visit someone’s house, they will bring you bread and tea.
 
– Pravit, Silk Road Chef | Uzbek nan bread

This Uyghur-style Naan is the very bread that (before I forgot entirely because of having brain-fog from having way too much time on my hands), I thought I was going to suggest way back when I was choosing the bread for last August.

But maybe it’s just as well. It was likely that not all of us have one (or more) of those cool decorative pricking devices available at markets in Uzbekistan, Xinxiang, etc. etc. Apparently, the stamp is called a chechik or durtlik.

Indeed, until last fall, I didn’t have a bread stamp either. But, thanks to T, I now have TWO bread stamps – one from China, and the other from Uzbekistan. Ha. Who says we can’t travel right now….

But even if we don’t have actual bread stamps, we surely we could improvise…. As Tanna said, that’s what BBBabes do best!! :-) :-)

There is an example of interesting stamping WITHOUT an official bread stamp at 0:16 of the YouTube “Samarkand ME” video. It looks like the boy is using an onion comb.

We have one of these! I always thought it was a cake comb – or rather – an English muffin comb. It turns out that it is an onion comb! But we think it would be perfect for docking flat bread.

Onion Comb

There is another example of how to decorate WITHOUT an official bread stamp at 2:00 of the YouTube “My Dastarkhwan” video. She uses the rim of a glass, a spoon, her fingers, and a plastic stamp that looks a lot like the kind of thing people use to mark shortbread. Here is yet another example at around 6:25 of this YouTube “Eat the World” video. Not having a bread stamp, Diana improvises, using a fondue fork, scissors, and/or a rim of a glass.

No doubt there are zillions more in the rabbit warren, but even I had to stop to come up for air. Not to mention, to make this bread!

Here’s what I did to make the BBBabes’ February 2021 bread:

BBB Nan with bread stamp diary:

30 December 2020 I LOVE Tanna’s notes all over the Non recipe page in her copy of “Samarkand”!

page 151 Samarakand by Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford

When I first read about this bread (sometime in June or July) in a library copy of that wonderful book by Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford, we made the bread using a homemade stamp. I used wooden skewers to make it.

Uighur Bread

The bread we made was not completely successful – it was baked on the barbecue. It was hot outside. I was not even remotely in control of the camera. I didn’t read the intructions to the end. Etc. Etc.

Uighur Bread

If we (by “we”, of course, I mean “I”) hadn’t messed up the bread itself, the skewer stamp would have worked perfectly.

I don’t know exactly where T got the first official stamp (etsy?? ebay??). It came from China and, as far as I know, took about a month to arrive.

The second stamp with the plain wooden handle was also from an online source and took eons to arrive from Uzbekistan. T ordered it in early July and didn’t receive it until sometime in October. (Please read more about this at Wordless Wednesday: more essentials for bread-making)

11:27 I was just comparing mailing labels and the stamp I was given for Christmas came from the same person as the stamp that Tanna got! I love that the customs label is in French.

bread stamp coming from Uzbekistan

The online order went in on 13 August 2020, with a promise of “shipping within 2 days”. Well, it was shipped within 2 days, but took over 2 months to arrive. Perhaps it travelled by caravan to the sea, then by boat the rest of the way…. If that is the case, it arrived in record time!

31 December 2020, 18:38 There is a pretty good description of how to use the bread stamp in “All Under Heaven” by Carolyn Phillips, as well as in “Beyond the Great Wall” by Naomi Duguid, and “Samarkand” by Caroline Eden:

Wet one hand and gently pat the inside of each circle, leaving a rim around the edge about 1 inch wide so it looks like a pizza. Use a dough prick or sharp fork to perforate the inside of the circles up to the rim.
 
– Carolyn Phillips, All Under Heaven
Uighur Nan […] [T]he center of the bread is stamped with a nail-studded device known as a chekitch or a durtlik, depending on the language. The stamping prevents the center part of the bread from puffing up during baking.
 
– Naomi Duguid, Beyond the Great Wall
[F]orm [the dough] into a domed round. […] Let prove […] until double in size again. […] Preheat the oven […] to get really hot before you bake the non. Make an indentation in the middle of the bread by pressing with the heel of your hand, leaving a doughnut shaped ring around the edge. Pierce a pattern in the middle using a non bread stamp or the tines of a fork.
 
– Caroline Eden, Samarkand

I am making this tonight for our New Year’s Eve feast with Tartine bread dough split in two – one part will be a round and the other part will be Uighur-style bread.

I’ve just now shaped the dough in a round and plan to use the back of a ladle to press out the center. (A while back, I watched a video of an Uzbekian woman making the bread; she used an implement that looked sort of like a tailor’s form for pressing shoulder seams on a suit jacket. The back of a ladle is the closest thing I could think of because I’m useless with the heel of my hand.)

Shaping Uighur Bread

22:40 The Uighur bread is amazing – fluffy and soft on the outer edges, and beautifully crispy in the center.

New Year's Eve Bread (31 December 2020)

10 January 2021, 14:05 We’re back into lockdown again – only essential stores (grocery, pharmacy) are open for in-person shopping at 50% capacity until 25 January. So far. Who knows if that date will be extended?)

I’ll have to see if a.) the lineups outside our health food store are insanely long, and b.) if they have whole grain spelt flour.

Of course I know that I don’t HAVE to follow Tanna’s recipe! But I thought I should at least make a semblance of pretending I would follow the recipe. Then, when it got closer to the time of posting, I could conveniently forget that I said I’d try to get spelt flour. ;-)

(The bread stamp worked really really well on bread made from Tartine dough that had zero oil in it.)

The main foods of the Uighurs include flour, corn, and rice. They eat a nang, flat bread shaped like a bagel or pancake and made with wheat or corn flour.
 
Countries and their Cultures | Uighurs

14:38: Ooh! I just found another rabbit hole!!

This is interesting:
Flour in China is lower in protein than American all-purpose, forming a dough that is comparatively lower in gluten, the result of which is fluffy no matter how thinly rolled. To avoid a crackerlike bread, a mixture of all-purpose and pastry flour will do the trick.
 
– Caroline Philips, SAVEUR Magazine | Eating on the Western Edge of China

11 January 2021, 17:51 The note in Carolyn Phillips’s Nan recipe (attached to the SAVEUR article “Eating on the Western Edge of China”) saying that Chinese flour is lower in gluten than our flour is really interesting. I’m thinking I might use a combination of corn flour (not corn starch…) and all-purpose. Or maybe sorghum flour (aka jowar) and all-purpose. Or perhaps I’ll follow Anna Olson’s method of making “cake flour” to lower the gluten. I like the idea of avoiding a crackerlike bread….

To avoid a crackerlike bread, a mixture of all-purpose and pastry flour will do the trick.
 
– Carolyn Phillips, SAVEUR Magazine | Uyghur Flatbread (Nángbing) Recipe https://www.saveur.com/uyghur-flatbread-nangbing-recipe/
Cake and Pastry Flour Not everyone has this in their pantry, but don’t let that stop you. For every 1 cup of cake or pastry flour, measure out 1 cup of all-purpose flour, spoon out 2 Tbsp of that flour, replace it with 2 Tbsp of cornstarch and then sift. Your cakes and cookies will be just as tender and delicate as if you used the real thing.

 
– Anna Olson, https://www.foodnetwork.ca/baking/blog/anna-olsons-ingredient-substitutions-guide/

I have Carolyn Phillip’s book “All Under Heaven” on hold at the library – I’m number 3 of 3 holds, with 3 copies in the system. In the meantime, I’ve recently discovered the wonders of the Internet Archive Open Library. Many e-books can be viewed for an hour at a time and some can be borrowed for 14 days!

Of course, the archive is searchable. Oh boy!! More rabbit hole entrances!

Try some of the food on sale, particularly the mutton kebabs roasting on long, open barbecues, the flat Uighur bread known as nan
 
– Graham Earnshaw, On Your Own in China: The Independent Traveller’s Guide | Xinjiang (Sinkiang) Autonomous Region, p.238
White-capped Uighurs stoked barbecues place at regular intervals along the pavement. One could go on a mutton-crawl; once could go completely bo-peep on mutton. Later on, we headed for the Nur Bustan Islamic Restaurant. The menu was entirely ovine and occasionally alarming, with dishes like ‘Hand Scratches mutton’ and ‘Burnt Pepper Sheep feet’.
[…]
‘I think I’ll go for the “Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing”.’
‘And I’ll start with a little “Lambsy-Tivy” . . .’
The waiter, who fortunately didn’t understand a word, was still hovering. We discovered, at some length, that every single item on the menu was as apocryphal as our two last inventions. The only dish available — an unctuous hash of mutton on a thick rencher of Uighur bread drenched in garlic and ginger gravy — appeared, ecentrically, to have no name, so we christened it ‘The Lost Sheep’.
 
– Tim Mackintosh-Smith, Landfalls : on the edge of Islam with Ibn Battutah | To the Mosque of the Phoenix, p.183

18:40 Tanna gently pointed out that my rabbit holes go deep. Yes, they do…. really deep. Look at this lovely description I just found, thanks to the Internet Archive:

      The nan is the staff of life for Uyghur people; […] there are bread-stalls at every turn. Sometimes a sleepy vendor sits behind a stack of half a dozen small nan; sometimes a stall is laden with dozens of flatbreads of different shapes and sizes. There are large nan the size of dinner plates; small nan like bagels with the hole filled in; shiny glazed nan; nan scattered with sesame seeds or onion; greenish nan made from dough mixed with chopped Chinese chives; sweet nan sprinkled with sugar and chopped nuts or seeds. […]
      The Uyghur share their nan-baking technology with the Persians (who probably invented it), Afghans, Uzbeks, northern Indians and Turks, among others, and it has ancient roots in the region. The museum in the regional capital, Ürümchi, displays fragments of an actual nan from the eighth century, which looks very like those baked in Kashgar today. The Uyghur still treat their everyday bread with reverence. They never throw it away: even stale bread can be resurrected by dipping in tea. One afternoon, as I walked through an avenue of poplars on the outskirts of Kashgar, a very old lady came up to me and clasped my hands in greeting. Then she rummaged in her pockets until she found a small piece of nan, which she pressed on me as a gift. I still have it in my flat in London.
 
– Fuchsia Dunlop, Shark’s Fin and Sichual Pepper | Journey to the West, p.243-244

12 January 2021, 09:13

I poked holes using the onion slice tool. It didn’t flatten the bread but it scored a line from the outer rim to the middle stamped area. Rather like cracker fracture line. Do you know the onion slice tool I mean? […] WOW isn’t it great, now we have gone from a single use tool to a multitasking tool. We should at least feel smug.
 
– Tanna, message to BBBabes

By onion slicing tool, of course Tanna really means “miniature cake comb”…. :-) :-)

12:29 But it never occurred to me to use the miniature cake comb to mark off where to break this bread apart! Now THAT’s co-operation! I was thinking just to use the miniature cake comb to dock the center of the bread, in the absence of a bread stamp.

How brilliant is Tanna? Next time we make bread stamp bread, I’ll use our onion slicing tool too to make it easier to break the bread apart!

(And yes. We should feel smug. I know that I do. {snort})

16:38 Kelly bragged that she has an antique silver cake comb. There were 2 silver patterns at Mum and Dad’s: “Bird of Paradise” and “Louis XV”. There were TWO silver cake combs in the “Louis XV” pattern. There were zero cake combs in the “Bird of Paradise” set. I have the “Bird of Paradise” set (that I love) and a cheap plastic handled onion comb. One of my sisters is hogging the Louis XV cake combs (which she does use from time to time to cut Angel food cake for her book-club dinners – when book-club dinners were still allowed to take place, that is).

I don’t even know if the Bird of Paradise pattern HAD a cake comb…. Suddenly, I can’t wait for warm weather and lawn sale season so we can look for cake combs that people imagine they don’t need because they never serve angel food cake any more.

20 January 2021 at 10:02 The library copy of “All Under Heaven” by Carolyn Phillips became available. THIS is interesting:

The main difference between the breads and pasta of China and the United States lies in their white flours. Here in the States, we use flour with a high amount of gluten, and this in turn makes our breads and pastas chewier. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, of course, but it does cause considerable confusion when you try to make recipes that originate in other countries.
[…] To deal with this problem, I monkeyed around with the ratios of American all-purpose and pastry flours, and these proportions turned out to be ideal. […]
 
      2 parts unbleached all-purpose flour
      1 part unbleached pastry flour
 
[…]
Baked Round Uyghur Bread
Nángbĭng 饢餅
 
This bread, sometimes called nang, is a very close relative of the bread that feeds most of Central Asia, naan. As far as the Chinese are concerned, it is definitely a culinary import; the people from the northern plains refer to it as húbĭng 胡餅, or “foreign bread.” Always round and always rimmed like a pizza, Baked Round Uyghur Bread is usually adorned with decorative pricks, which are made with a special nail-like tool.
 
– Carolyn Phillips, All Under Heaven, ‘The Fundamentals … Chinese flour’, and ‘The Arid Lands … Baked Round Uyghur Bread’

20 January 2021, 10:39 I cannot believe that other BBBabes got their bread stamps so quickly. It too just 2 weeks for Cathy’s to arrive!! There is much improvement since the summer. Our Uzbek stamp took almost two months to arrive. The first Chinese stamp (with the painted handle) took more than a month and, according to the shipping stats, sat in Vancouver for several days before wending its slow way to Toronto.

We used the painted handle stamp (larger pattern but shorter pins) to dock pizza dough the other night. We’re not sure it really made any difference at all to the pizza, and the dough did stick annoyingly to the little pins. It didn’t stick at all when we used it on Tartine bread dough on New Year’s Eve. I wonder if the presence of oil in the dough makes a difference. (Both doughs were wild yeast, but the pizza dough has a small amount of olive oil in it.)

20 January 2021, 10:55 I am trying to imaging how to justify getting “All Under Heaven” and sneaking it onto our overfull cookbook shelf. (I won’t tell anyone about the extensive chapter on breads in the library copy of “The Turkish Cookbook” by Musa Dagdeviren that I’m reading right now… the book is honking big with tiny tiny print. It’s a bit like reading Encyclopedia Britannica, but there are really fascinating things in it. I got it out of the library because of “Keep in mind that China’s Uyghurs are ethnically Turkic and speak a language that is related to Turkish” above the recipe for ‘Xinjiang-style yogurt’ in Carolyn Phillip’s book. It suddenly occurred to me that there might be similar stamped bread made in Turkey. So far, I’ve found a flat round bread that, aside from the shape, looks not unlike the Barbari bread we made a while back. Also, so far, there is nothing about bread stamps in the Turkish cookbook.

23 January 2021, 18:32 yet more rabbit holing:

[W]e stopped in the late afternoon at a remote village […] and formally requested permission to pitch our tents […] The swarthy, solidly built [headman] had a mean-looking scar running down one cheek. He squinted one eye, looked us over for a long minute and finally said in halting Russian, “Absolutely not!” After a slight hesitation he went on, “Tonight you must honor me by staying in my home.” He then clapped his hands loudly and vigorously six times. Women came running from all sides as he shouted orders in Uzbek. […] Women were scurrying in every direction. There was a feast to prepare.
[…]
      At dinner women scurried in and out with heaping dishes of food, saying nothing. It was a wonderful meal, starting with trays of walnuts, almonds, raisins, baked apricot seeds and several unfamiliar delicacies. A bowl of fresh yogurt was served, then spicy lamb soup. They had heard only Soviet propaganda about the west and they wanted to know what life was really like. Over skewers of succulent shashlik served with freshly baked lepyoshka bread, we answered their questions honestly and completely. […] Throughout the meal fresh carrots, greens, onions and cucumbers were at our fingertips. A traditional rice pilaf was served, then green tea and an assortment of candied fruits and sweets, including halvah. It was a feast fit for visiting royalty, and we were at the table for three and a half hours.
 
– Joe Oakes, With a single step: the story of a non-motorized circumnavigaiton of the Earth, ‘Uzbek Hospitality’, p.147

29 January 2021, 16:24 We’ve made this bread with a naan dough that includes yoghurt and butter, and we’ve made it with a lean flour/water/salt dough. It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of dough it is; the bread turns out beautifully. We’ve now made it 3 times (or is it 4?), and plan to make it again tomorrow night (the yoghurt version). In all the versions made so far, the center section has a cracker-like crust on the bottom but the crumb is still soft.

What I found was that it’s important to make quite a wide impression in the centre, otherwise the indentation disappears almost entirely.

August 2020 – baked on the barbecue
Shaping Uighur BreadUighur Bread ready for bakingUighur Bread Baked on the Barbecue
Uighur Bread baked on the barbecue (Aug2020)Uighur BreadUighur Bread (Aug2020)

I just got Maggie Glezer’s lovely book “A Blessing of Bread” out of the library, and was thrilled to see that she includes an Uzbekistan bread recipe. It has zero yoghurt or butter and she calls the breads crackers!

Looking like giant bialys, this is the daily bread of Uzbekistan and the Bukharan Jews. It is very similar to bread found throughout Central Asia: On the cusp between flat and raised bread, the loaf is fair thick at the edges but very thin and crisp in the center. […] To make the breads, the baker stretches each proofed pita dough into a flattened circle, stamps the center with a bread stamp—a sort of wide pestle with blunt nails protruding from the base—places it on a peel with a pillow at its end, and moistens the underside with a sprinkling of water. The baker then presses the bread against the oven wall, where it sticks, thanks to the water, and bakes to a deep crunchy gold
 
– Maggie Glezer, A Blessing of Bread, ‘Nooni Honegi Bukharan Homestyle Bread from Yelizaveta Aminova’, p. 253

31 January 2021, 10:51am I am really loving reading Maggie Glezer’s book – I’ve just now finished reading the Sephardic tradition section and have started reading about Ethiopian Jews. Heartbreaking, fascinating, uplifting….

I really love that she provides so many sourdough versions as well as commercially yeasted breads. I’m also fascinated by her stiff sourdough starter (but am still trying to wrap what’s left of my mind around how to alter her sourdough recipes so that I can use our liquid starter, simply because I finally know how to use it. This past year has already introduced quite enough challenges and hard lessons….)

We made the most wonderful stamped bread last night. Instead of using Glezer’s recipe, I made it with our wild naan recipe It worked fabulously. The bread was perfectly crisp and cracker-like on the bottom, and pillowy on the top. We were both over the moon and couldn’t stop saying, “I LOVE this bread!” “This is MY kind of bread!” “Let’s have this EVERY time!”

Uyghur Bread
Uyghur Bread

A lot of the center hole disappeared because there was so much oven-spring but the flower pattern in the middle still showed up. I also used our not-cake comb to mark breaking points. Those pretty much disappeared – except where the markings were – but our not-cake comb was perfect to use when breaking the bread apart.

Breaking bread by hand is very common, because of the desire not to let a knife, an instrument of war, touch bread, the bounty of peace.
[…]
[A]ll bread was at one time sourdough (the Hebrew word for leaven, chametz, means “sour”)
 
– Maggie Glezer, A Blessing of Bread, p.25 and 97
Non in Uzbekistan is rarely, if ever, cut with a knife at home or in traditional social settings: Rather, it is broken into pieces by hand. It is considered disrespectful to place a loaf of bread facedown, and even more so to allow crumbs to fall on the ground.
 
– Eric Hansen, The Fabled Flatbreads of Uzbekistan

We LOVE this bread!! I’m so glad Tanna chose it for February!

Uyghur Bread
Uyghur Bread

My favourite thing about it is that it doesn’t seem to matter what dough is chosen! It works pretty fabulously every time. We’ve also used pizza dough – if I hadn’t been locked up in a Zoom meeting, it would have turned out equally fabulously (T is not the biggest fan of reading shaping instructions, so he winged it, happily stamping away at a not very round piece of flattened dough. The bread was still delicious, but just didn’t have the lovely shape it should have.)

The first time I made this bread, I oiled the top and created a big mess. From then on, each time I made a round out of the dough, let it rest, then lightly floured the top before using a ladle to press out the center. The ladle doesn’t make nearly a large enough indentation though so I finish with my hands, leaving a doughnut shape on the edge before bread stamping in the center. For me, this worked much better and the pattern almost shows up. “Almost” being the key word.

9 February 2021, 18:06 I made our wild naan dough again for tonight’s dinner of butter chicken. So shoot us for having Indian food with Uyghur style bread! Fiddle-dee-dee! We just don’t care. We’re Canadian, living in a multi-cultural land. :-) :-)

Did I remember about making sure the flour had less protein? Are you crazy? Of course not!! I’ve been in and out of far too many rabbit holes since I read about that! Maybe next time…. Because there will definitely be many next times. We love this style of bread!

19:39 Bread pre-shaped at 19:00, oven turned on and then stamped at 19:30. I’m not positive now that wetting the stamp stops it from sticking in the dough. Next time, I’ll try flouring it. The patterns aren’t showing up so dramatically this time because the dough really stuck as I was pulling the stamp away. But it doesn’t seem to matter too much. Already, the bread is puffing beautifully around the edges and nicely flat in the center! And it’s only been in the oven for about five minutes!

I love the excitement of this bread!

Uyghur Bread
Uyghur Bread

10 February 2021, 13:07 Last night’s bread was brilliant. It was so brilliant that T wants to have something like it again tonight. But I didn’t build up the starter…. He has suggested to make it with {gasp} commercial yeast.

What?!

Am I willing to insult our wonderful starter by using commercial yeast? Hmmm… maybe.

13:32 Okay. I took the plunge! This time round, I followed (mostly) Eleanor Ford’s Non recipe in “Samarkand”. You noticed the “followed (mostly)”, I presume….


Recipe Detail from 'Samarkand'
Samarkand by Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford
photography by Laura Edwards
publisher: Kyle Books, 2016

Note that “water” does not appear in the ingredients list, in spite of the fact that it is included in the dough. (Don’t get me started again on THAT rant!)

  • 160 grams unbleached “no additives” all-purpose flour
  • 30 grams 100% “no additives” whole wheat flour
  • 10 grams wheat germ
  • 2 grams instant yeast (that’s right! I used “instant” yeast!)
  • 10 grams Jane Mason 100% hydration whole wheat starter from the fridge (for flavour)
  • 170 grams water, at body temperature
  • 5 grams seasalt

18:59 Isn’t commercial yeast amazing? About an hour ago, I folded the dough right down and already it has doubled.

It smells different though – sort of apple juicy….

19:31 In her recipe for Sourdough Uzbek flatbreads, Elaine Boddy (foodbod sourdough) wrote, “To use the stamp and stop it from sticking to the dough I dunked it in water for each use, then firmly pressed it into the dough and pulled directly back up and out again.“. It seemed like a good idea. But the stamp really stuck when I did that!

This time round, I tried dipping the stamps into flour on the board before docking the dough. That worked WAY better than dipping them in water; the disc wasn’t so anxious to pull up from the board.

Uyghur Bread

11 February 2021, 08:41 Last night’s dinner was delicious. But both of us agreed that the bread was just a little dull. Even though I added a little bit of our wild starter, it wasn’t enough to give the bread that extra bit of flavour it lends. Of course, the lack of flavour could simply be from the bread having such a short rise and no overnight starter at all. Still, I think I’m going to have to try Eleanor Ford’s recipe one more time – but with wild yeast instead of commercial yeast.

Also, the bread was JUST enough for two for dinner. It’s always nice to have a little bread left over for breakfast, isn’t it?

But before dissing the bread made with commercial yeast rather than wild yeast, I should pay attention to this:

I [was reminded] of how bread was treated in Central Asia, a lesson I’d learned from an Uzbek baker. After he mentioned he’d once tried Italian bread, I asked him to compare it to his nang, He paused. “In Central Asia, we cannot criticize bread. No bread is bad,” he said. It wasn’t censorship—it was a cultural difference. As in Xinjiang, bread was treated with the untmost respect and never thrown out, no matter how old it got. The baker told me that whenever Central Asians discovered bread on the ground, they picked it up, kissed it, and held it over their forehead before placing it on a table or a counter, somewhere higher than it was found.
 
– Jen Lin-Liu, On the Noodle Road: from Beijing to Rome, with Love and Pasta, p.163

To replace the commercial yeast, I’ll try this:

  • leavener (to ferment overnight):
    » 20 grams Jane Mason starter from the fridge
    » 50 grams 100% “no additives” whole wheat flour
    » 50 grams water
  • dough (mixed on day of baking):
    » 200 grams unbleached “no additives” all-purpose flour
    » 40 grams 100% “no additives” whole wheat flour
    » 10 grams wheat germ
    » all of the leavener from above
  • 210 grams water, at body temperature
  • 6 grams seasalt


shaping and stamping Uyghur Bread

11 February 2021, 17:27 We’re still having difficulty getting the pattern to show up. So T did some searching. Look at this very very cool YouTube video of how this woman at My Dastarkhwan shapes the bread My Dastarkhwan: How To Make Tajik Naan or Non – Tajik Bread – Traditional Tajikistan Recipe

I love the spoon part AND her finger work! In Urdu, “My Dastarkhwan” means “at the table” but in Uyghur, it means “you are welcome”. (…I do love the internet!)

18:39 Tanna found another YouTube video that is way too cool!! …proving that necessity really IS the mother of invention. Because the woman didn’t have a bread stamp, how clever she is to use a fondue fork!!

13 February 2021, 12:55 Tanna showed us a photo of things she found in her kitchen that “might be used to create some geometric designs to emboss this bread with”. What a great idea.

All that were missing from her photo were the onion comb and fondue forks. (One of the Youtube videos I watched showed a fellow marking a circle with a glass rim, and then using an implement that looked a lot like an onion comb to pierce holes in the circle.)

Tanna has NINE bread stamps. !!!! How does she choose which one(s) to use? We have just two, and I have difficulty.

21:15 I just can’t stop. I’m going to build up our Jane Mason starter to make yet another naan with our bread stamps. After looking at the recipe on the latest video, with a recipe calling for butter and milk, and because we love it so much, I think I’ll use our wild naan recipe (made with butter and yoghurt.) again. It’s just so good!

14 February 2021, 08:28 The leavener is floating, but it’s too soon to mix the dough. So I stirred in 18 grams each of whole wheat flour and water.

18:14 Time to preshape!! I’ll get the scissors, and a fondue fork out too. And maybe some heart shaped cookie cutters. After all, it’s Valentine’s Day today!

Uyghur Bread

19:24 That was fun. At the last second just before putting it onto the hot stone, I decided to throw on a few sesame seeds. Why not? :-) The bread is in the oven now. I hope the markings show up!

20:05 Very interesting! For the first time, the center marking really shows. The scissor cuts on the outer rim are nice looking too. In spite of the sesame seeds not really showing up, it’s beautiful!! (I can’t really see the sesame seeds though; maybe I should have used poppy seeds or nigella.)

Once again, dinner was wonderful. But because the center of the bread wasn’t really punched through everywhere, it rose much more than expected. We both agreed that we like it best when there is an almost cracker-like center and a soft rim that is almost like a Parkerhouse roll on the outside. But with a wonderful crust all over.

Uyghur Bread

Then, yesterday morning, we had green chili omelette with the left-over bread. Perfection!

Uyghur Bread

Thank you, Tanna! Playing with our bread stamps has been way too much fun! We will definitely be making this bread over and over. Now that we have a handle on how to shape it, we’re anxious for this sub-zero weather to end so we can bake it on the barbecue again.

Here is the February 2021 BBB Baker’s Dozen Anniversary recipe that we were given. And here is our favourite version of what I did to it:

Wild Uyghur Naan
adapted from naan recipes in A Taste of India by Madhur Jaffrey and Entertaining Indian Style by Shehzad Husain, the Uyghur Nan Bread recipes on SilkRoadChef.com, and “Hirshon Xinjiang Naan Bread” at thefooddictator.com

makes one loaf

Leavener

  • spoonful active Jane Mason culture from the fridge (about 30 grams)
  • 50 grams water
  • 50 grams 100% whole wheat “no additives” flour

Actual Dough

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 150 grams boiling water
  • 1 dessert-spoon plain yoghurt
  • 320 grams unbleached all purpose flour
  • all of the floating starter from above
  • 50 grams room temperature water
  • 5 grams salt

Optional Topping

  • sesame seeds, nigella, or poppy seeds
  1. Starter Late in the evening on the day before you will be making bread, put a spoonful of active culture from the fridge into a small bowl. Stir in 50 grams water and 50 grams whole wheat flour. Cover with a plate and put into the oven with only the light turned on to leave overnight. (If it’s hot in the kitchen, leave the light turned off.)
  2. Actual Dough In the morning of the day you will be making the bread, take a small spoonful of the starter and see if it floats in a bowl of lukewarm water. If the starter is bubbly but the little amount sinks, stir in 10g whole wheat flour and 10g room temperature water. Cover with a plate and put the bowl back into the oven with only the light turned on. About 30 minutes later, check to see if the mixture floats. It probably will. Proceed with making the actual dough.
  3. Using a bowl that is large enough for the dough to triple, cut the butter into smallish pieces and place it in the bottom (I use a large casserole dish). Pour boiling water over top, stirring to melt the butter.
  4. Add the yoghurt to the butter water. Using a wooden spoon, stir in whole wheat flour and the rest of the all-purpose flour. Double-check that the dough is no warmer than baby bottle temperature, then add the starter and the rest of the water to the large bowl. Sprinkle the salt overtop. Stir just enough to mix it together. Cover with a plate and leave on counter for about 20 minutes.
  5. Kneading: Wash your hands and leave one hand wet. With the back of your hand against the side of the bowl, reach down into the bowl to the bottom of the dough and pull it up to the fold it over the top. Turn the bowl with your other hand and repeat 4 or 5 times. Cover the bowl with a plate and set aside on the counter for about 20 minutes.
  6. Repeat the previous step 2 or 3 times more. You’ll notice that the dough is beginning to rise and that it is smooth and silky to the touch.
  7. Proofing: Cover with a plate and leave on the counter. If it’s very warm in the kitchen, and put it into the fridge until about an hour before you plan to bake the bread.
  8. Preheating and Pre-shaping
    • If you are using the oven: 30 minutes before baking the bread, put baking stone on the middle rack of the oven. Turn the oven to 450F (or whatever setting you use for “hot”).
    • If you are using the barbecue: 10 minutes before baking the bread, put a pizza stone into the barbecue and turn it on high. (my sister claims there is no need to put a baking stone in the barbecue and bakes pizzas directly on the grill all the time. We do this with Indian naan but have never tried with larger rounds of dough.)
    • Pre-shaping: Scatter a light dusting of flour on the board and gently turn the dough out. Try not to disturb any bubbles. Gently
  9. Shaping: Shortly before baking, put a light dusting of flour on top of the round. Use the palms of your hands to flatten it into a disc that is around 3 centimeters thick – you want to preserve the bubbles that are there…. Use your fingertips in the middle of the round to flatten the center area to about half a centimeter, leaving a raised edge of about 3 centimeters high all around (so it looks sort of like a doughnut). Prick a design all through the center area of the bread. To make it easier to break the bread apart, use a cake comb (or onion comb) to punch dotted lines through the edges at appropriate intervals.

    If you don’t have a bread stamp, use a bottle or other round object to stamp around the center. Then use a fork to poke holes, poking all the way through. There should be holes all over the center. This helps prevent the center of the bread from rising up (we only want the edges to rise in the oven). – SilkRoadChef.com

  10. Baking: Just before baking, spray the top of the bread with water and, if using scatter seeds artfully over top.
    • In the oven: Place the shaped bread directly on the hot stone in the oven. Bake the bread at 450F for 30-40 minutes or until it is golden, puffed on the outside, and sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom.
    • In the barbecue: Place the shaped bread on the hot stone and close the lid to the barbecue. Turn it around from time to time to account for uneven heat. Baking takes about 20-30 minutes.
  11. When the bread is done, put it on a rack before breaking it apart and placing in a basket.

This bread is best eaten warm on the same day it was baked. Apparently, it should NEVER be cut, always broken. Nor is it supposed to be turned upside down (even though it’s really interesting to see that the stamp patterns show through on the bottom of the bread).

Notes:

Leavener: The leavener is made with our 100% hydration whole wheat starter. In July 2017, it took about 5 days to create; it now lives in the fridge when it is not in use. (See our take on Jane Mason’s Natural Starter made with Wheat Flour.) Please note that many recipes for this bread call for using commercial yeast – either dry or cake. However, because it is an ancient bread, we chose to use our wild yeast starter.

Butter: Many of the recipes for this bread call for oil or lard. Some call for no fat at all. We used butter because we like butter.

Topping: Poppy or sesame seeds, or nigella are often scattered in the center of this bread – especially if the bread has been made by Uzbek Jews.
Many challahs are sprinkled with seeds or spices, not just for their savor and texture, but also to remind us of manna, the “bread from heaven” that glittered like jewels in the early-morning sun for the desert-wandering Children of Israel. […] Poppy and sesame seeds are the most popular […] but caraway, fennel, nigella, and anise seeds are all marvelous in their own pungent way.
 
Looking like giant bialys, this is the daily bread of Uzbekistan and the Bukharan Jews. It is very similar to bread found throughout Central Asia: On the cusp between flat and raised bread, the loaf is fair thick at the edges but very thin and crisp in the center. […] To make the breads, the baker stretches each proofed pita dough into a flattened circle, stamps the center with a bread stamp—a sort of wide pestle with blunt nails protruding from the base—places it on a peel with a pillow at its end, and moistens the underside with a sprinkling of water. The baker then presses the bread against the oven wall, where it sticks, thanks to the water, and bakes to a deep crunchy gold
[…]
Stretch the center of the dough very thin […] leaving the outer edge very thick. […] Paint the dough with the egg glaze. Repeatedly pirce a 3-inch (8-cm) area in the center with a fork to replicate the bread stamp, and then sprinkle the pierced area with sesame seeds.
 
– Maggie Glezer, A Blessing of Bread, ‘A Baker’s Primer: Toppings’, and ‘Nooni Honegi Bukharan Homestyle Bread from Yelizaveta Aminova’, p.54 and p.253-254

Oven Temperature: Our new oven runs a little less hot but slightly more evenly than our old one (we would have baked this bread at 400F in our old oven). I know I have already quoted Andrew Whitley about this, but it does bear repeating:
Most domestic ovens, whether gas, electric, fan assisted or solid fuel, will bake bread quite adequately. But, not surprisingly, some are better than others. […] [T]he temperature in the oven may have to fall by as much as 30°C before the thermostat calls for renewed heat, so the item being baked is subjected to a constantly oscillating temperature. […] The knobs and dials on domestic ovens are notoriously unreliable. Even where they indicate a precipe temperature rather than a rough guide or a regulo number, you should regard the setting as approximate. […] [A]ll that is really required is to know what setting gives a cool, moderate or hot oven. […] [I]f you understand roughly what heat a loaf requires (e.g. pretty hot for a big, wet, rye sourdough, moderate for an enriched sweet bread), you won’t go far wrong
 
– Andrew Whitley, Bread Matters, Chapter three: Taking Control

 

Bread Stamps

Bread Baking Babes let's keep baking! Baker’s Dozen Anniversary: Nan With Bread Stamp

Tanna is hosting February 2021’s Bread Baking Babes’ Baker’s Dozen Anniversary project. She wrote:

First you should know, I made the nan w bread stamps so many times. The […] flavor and joy only got better even after 11 bakings … at which point I lost count. […] Shortly after I got my first stamp, I went to a King Arthur baking school and ask the head instructor and her guess: a stamp for tie dying. Then I showed her the article. That was fun.
 
Then oddly in looking through a book: Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & the Caucasus by Caroline Eden & Eleanor Ford, on the table of contents page I saw the stamps pictured and on p 151 was a recipe! […] I baked this once, learned you have to really stamp with some pressure to get an indent and embossed pattern. I wrote in the book, baked again.
 
– Tanna, in message to BBBabes

We know you’ll want to make Nan with Bread Stamps too! Over and Over! To receive a Bread Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make the saffron buns in the next couple of weeks and post about them (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 28 February 2021. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to contact the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please make sure to directly contact the kitchen of the month if you want to be included in the BBBuddy roundup.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ February 2021 Nan with bread stamps:

 

Bread Stamps

Before buying some bread stamps in Uzbekistan for cheap ($2-3 for each one), I bought an Uyghur bread stamp from Taobao – just do a search for 囊戳子 and you’ll find plenty of them. You can sometimes find bread stamps on Ebay or Etsy as well. The stamp certainly helps give the bread the right look, but I have used a fork plenty of times with decent results. Finally, in New York, Fortuna grocery in Brooklyn sells bread stamps (they keep them behind the cashiers where they sell plates and teapots).
 
– pravit, Silk Road Chef | Uyghur Nan Bread
The sun was coming up as I followed the scent of wood smoke and freshly baked bread that drifted down a chilly dirt lane in an aging neighborhood on the outskirts of Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. Working my way against rush-hour traffic of bicycle-mounted bread-delivery men and bundled-up children carrying home stacks of steaming bread in plastic bags, I turned into an unmarked open gateway in a mud-plastered wall. In the courtyard I found fifth-generation baker Raushanbek Ismailov with his entire upper body inside the opening of his 315-degree centigrade tandoor oven. He soon reappeared, […] pulling out dozens of fragrant, golden, crusty loaves called non (pr. nahn), which he arranged on an old metal bedframe to cool.
[…]
Non is found in many shapes and sizes, and with different flavors, throughout Iran, Turkic Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, northern India and China’s western Xinjang Province. Uzbek non is easily recognized by its round shape, shallow depression in the middle, soft chewy texture, distinct flavors, golden crust, and frequently intricate decorative patterns. Uzbek non, as I discovered, varies in taste, size and appearance from province to province, city to city, town to town.
[…]
Back in Tashkent at the end of my journey, I was sipping green tea at a café when I noticed a car moving slowly down the street. A small child was standing up on a rear seat holding a small crust of non. The window was partially open, and as the car passed, the child accidently dropped the crust onto the road. From a nearby group of women, one immediately walked over, picked up the non, blew on it, kissed it lightly, uttered some words and placed the non on a tree branch, for the birds.
 
– Eric Hansen, AramcoWorld | The Fabled Flatbreads of Uzbekistan, July/August 2015

Samarkand p152,153
Samarkand by Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford
photography by Laura Edwards
publisher: Kyle Books, 2016

 

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7 responses to “Stamp! Stamp! Stamp! (BBB February 2021)

  1. Kelly (A Messy Kitchen)

    Love the look of the snipping on the edges! And my dear, you’ve gone beyond rabbit holes. You have an entire warren at your disposal! ♥♥♥ And I love it.

    edit 17 February 2021, 12:40: I think we are always going to do that snipping on the edges. I only wish I’d paid more attention to that idea when I first saw it in the warren maze. (I think it might be more than one warren that I found…. :-) ) – Elizabeth

    Reply
  2. Cathy (Bread Experience)

    Very nice bake. I like the idea of adding yogurt and butter to the dough. I bet your bread tasted great! I also like the idea of using the onion comb. I tried using the tines of a fork to dock the dough, but I think something like your onion tool or Tanna’s tool would work much better.

    edit 17 February 2021, 12:42: Thank you Cathy. The yoghurt/butter version is indeed delicious. But the first relatively successful Uyghur-style bread we made on New Year’s Eve with Tartine dough (no oil, no butter, no yoghurt) was equally delicious. And the onion tool is really terrific too. But I think a cake comb might be even better, because the tines are larger (can’t wait for yard sales to begin – people imagine that they don’t want their cake combs). – Elizabeth

    Reply
  3. Karen

    I always thought the onion comb was a meat tenderizer! I think I have one in the house. I love your painted stamps!

    edit 17 February 2021, 12:45: I bet the onion comb would work perfectly as a meat tenderizer, Karen. Although it might be a bit time consuming to use. The painted handle is pretty, isn’t it? I really like the simplicity of its design too – it contrasts so nicely with the flower-like design on the wooden handled stamp. – Elizabeth

    Reply
  4. Tanna (My Kitchen In Half Cups)

    Not just rabbit holes, not just a rabbit warren, this is riddled with rabbit warrens! And such a great read … but one does have to take time.
    I have whole wheat pastry flour so I must try this with the idea of Chinese flour with reduced gluten.
    Interesting suggestion to dip the stamp in water. I’m a little obsessed with keeping mine dry as the tines are raw iron and will rust. When I’ve gotten each one, I’ve carefully washed them and then dried with a hair dryer, then dipped them in a shallow bit of oil and used a pastry brush to spread the oil hopefully all over the tines.
    I am intrigued as to what characteristics of dough causes the tines to stick. I used my bread stamp on some cracker dough (made with butter) and it did stick so much so that I had a major cleaning job. Normally with the nan recipe there has been no sticking. As to flouring the stamp, I actually plunge mine into the flour canister and then knock off the excess.
    I had one bake where the center was pretty much the same as the rim in height. I believe I had not really pushed it deep into the dough and it just rose right up.
    Great loaves you’ve baked, beauties all. I am totally with you on LOVE this bread, MY kind of bread. It is a genuine EveryDayBread!
    And yeah well you did tell somebody about The Turkish Cookbook. …

    edit 17 February 2021, 12:48: hahahaha – yes. So many warrens that it’s hard to know where to step for fear of falling in.
     
    The dipping the stamp in water idea seems like a good idea, Tanna. But, for me, it really didn’t work nearly as well as dipping in flour. I’ve been air-drying our stamps before putting them away. But that’s a great idea to oil them! I’ll start doing that.
     
    How interesting that your dough with butter made the stamp stick, but the dough without butter or oil didn’t stick. Ha. Now I’ll just have to make yet another sacrifice to try one more time (maybe two or three…) with lean dough.
     
    – Elizabeth
     
    (Sorry about blabbing about The Turkish Cookbook. I was sure it would get lost in the several twisting tunnels.)

    Reply
  5. Katie Zeller (Thyme for Cooking)

    I want to go to Samarkand.
    This is what I could have done with the pastry flour I got instead of bread flour at the beginning of the pandemic. It’s gone, now… I used it for Christmas cakes and cookies. The pandemic, however, is still with us.
    Your non is oui, oui…… tres bon

    edit 17 February 2021, 13:01: You found pastry flour, Katie?! I haven’t seen pastry flour in eons (and the shortage has nothing to do with the pandemic). I want to go to Samarkand too – just for the bakeries! Maybe one day…. But even with regular flour, this bread works. Because you are right: Oui, oui à non! – Elizabeth

    Reply
  6. Jeanne @ Cooksister (Cooksister)

    Just wow…!! A rabbit hole tour de force! Who even knew that onion combs existed, never mind bread stamps. Not a bread baker in any shape manned or form, but loved the stream-of-consciousness development of this post and the delicious outcome. All I want to know is.. can you rewrite in the style of Beowulf please? ;)

    edit 18 February 2021, 08:52: Thank you, Jeanne! Hwæðere gêse, forðearlîce. Yfel âðrôwian n¯ænig pro wênan yfel un−geh¯ælendlicâwyrcan ðætte. Dômfæst l¯ænan mehwêne mâ ontimber :-) – Elizabeth (Isn’t the internet wonderful? Not just onion combs and bread stamps! Who knew lingojam.com/OldEnglishTranslator even existed?)

    Reply

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