Wild Greek Village Bread (BBB March 2023)

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BBB: Let's Keep Baking summary: recipe for Prozymi horiatiko psomi (Sourdough Greek Village Bread); using a combo cooker in place of a wood-fire oven; information about Bread Baking Babes;

Bread Baking Babes (BBB): Greek Village Bread (Horiatiko Psomi)

Χωρίς προζύμι, ψωμί δε γίνεται (without leaven, bread is not possible)
– Greek proverb
Yiayia’s knotty brown hands pummel the dough, punching it in, bringing it together and pushing it out, over and over. What was flour and water and a scrap of old dough a few moments ago is now like a living, breathing being beneath her hands.
– Spiri Tsintziras, Afternoons in Ithaka

BBB March 2023

This month, the BBBabes are still on the Mediterranean: in Greece. But this time, rather than baking something festive, the bread is on the simple and somewhat rustic side. We’re making Horiatiko Psomi (Greek Village Bread).

Of course, with a name like that, there are probably as many recipes for this bread as there are Greek villages.

In Greek, sourdough is called “Prozymi” ((το προζύμι), προ + ζύμη meaning pro = before and zymi or zyme = dough. […] There’s nothing more satisfying than making your own bread. Learn how to make the sourdough starter and you will have the best bread ever!
– Ivy Liacopoulou, Kopiaste | Cypriot Bread (including a recipe for Zymoto Psomi (Cypriot Sourdough Rustic Bread))
Village or country bread (Horiatiko psomi) is a type of Greek bread one can find in every Greek bakery. It originates from Greek villages and has a unique flavor and texture. Traditionally it is a denser type of bread that resembles the taste of sourdough bread. It’s main characteristic is that Greek village bread is baked in outdoors wood fired ovens.
– Eli K. Giannopoulos, My Greek Dish | Greek Bread recipe (Village bread/ Horiatiko Psomi)
Made from wholesome ingredients and a hint of honey, one of the most beloved Greek loaves of bread is the horiatiko psomi (χωριάτικο ψωμί), pronounced hoh-ree-AH-tee-koh psoh-MEE, which is perfect as a side for soups and stews, as it’s dense and perfect for picking up the juices of saucy preparations. […] In villages around Greece, this classic bread is still baked in outdoor wood-burning ovens, but a conventional oven will still yield a perfect loaf. This bread is ?denser than other types of bread and can be made with a variety of flours or a combination of more than one. If you can find semolina, use it on your work surface to add that crispy country touch to the loaves.
– Nancy Gaifyllia, The Spruce Eats | Horiatiko Psomi: Greek Country Bread

On the Mediterranean? Wood-burning oven? I wish!!! Here is what I did to the BBBabes’ March 2023 recipe:

BBB Greek Village Bread diary:

14 February 2023 at 18:58 This is our kind of bread!! Less complicated is right up my alley right now. (Ha. Always….)

3 March 2023, 23:25 What on earth is happening?! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

This morning before heading out to afternoon and evening rehearsals for Beethoven Missa Solemnis (great singers! especially the high high high soprano soloist), everything looked normal. The streets were clear; we were thinking that we could go for a nice bike ride on Monday.

Because the rehearsals were downtown, I took public transit. Good thing. The roads were a disaster on the way home. It took over an hour and a half to get home – normally about 40 minutes by transit.

When I finally slogged through several inches of snow to get home, I shovelled the deep deep deep heavy wet snow from our front walk. What a good thing it is that we have a small front yard.

4 March 2023, 08:21 I shovelled our front walk again just now. It’s as if I had done nothing at all last night. Make it stop!

Happily, it looks like the ploughs have been by this morning; at least the road looks clear.

10 March 2023 Noooo!! This is taking March coming in like a lion way too far! We were finally getting rid of the snow. We even went for a little bike ride the other day. And now this.

March 2023 Snow
March 2023 snow

The barbecue is NOT amused.

Neither am I. So much for trying to mimic a woodfire oven by baking this month’s bread in the barbecue. (Ha. As if I would have done that, with the high price of barbecue gas these days.) Regular oven and combo cooker it will be.

11 March 2023, 08:32 Looking at the BBB recipe….

It calls for commercial yeast! Alas, there are no weights listed for the salt and sugar. Or the butter. Butter? In Greek village bread?

(Hey! What happened to Gourmet Sleuth?! It appears to be gone! Mercifully, King Arthur has come to my rescue for finding out how many grams in a teaspoon of salt, or a tablespoon of sugar.)

First of all, there is NO way I’m making this bread with yeast. But what really surprises me is that the recipe calls for butter. I love butter, but wouldn’t Greeks traditionally use olive oil?

I know they have cows in Greece, but would a daily village bread call for butter?

Shall I do a brief search on the internet to find out? (J’adore the internet.)

In the traditional Mediterranean diet and by this I am referring to the traditional Greek diet, olive oil was and is the main source of fat in cooking and baking. We’re talking about years ago, way before olive oil became trendy. […] Yes, butter has a place in the diet and in our cuisine. In Greece, butter was a luxury item plus it is an animal product and since Greeks fasted from animal products for over 180 days a year, butter was not a regular part of their diet. However, during holidays Greek cuisine has plenty of desserts that use butter and not just any butter, they used butter from sheep’s milk.
– Elena Paravantes, Olive Tomato | The Tyranny of Butter

As for the sugar, I confess I don’t love sugar in savoury bread. I’ll use honey instead.

To alter the recipe into a sourdough one, I’ll just use the BBB recipe, and subtract the amount of flour and water that I us to build up the starter. And switch the butter for olive oil. And also the sugar for honey. Maybe a little less honey.

It just seems to make more sense to me. (Ha. Being the expert that I am {cough}. Having never been to Greece.)

I mixed the leavener ingredients late last night and left them in the oven with only the light on. Even though it’s on the chilly side in the kitchen still, with its concave surface, the leavener had clearly already risen and was beginning to fall. I added a bit more flour and water, covered it, and put it back into the oven with only the light turned on.

I also decided to mix the rest of the ingredients (except the salt and a very small amount of water) in a big bowl this morning. To get them started with their flavour development.

12:17 A small amount of the leavener floated. Yay!! I mixed the leavener and the rest together. Already, the dough feels beautiful and smooth. I’ll add the salt in half an hour or so.

13:26 I just folded in the salt. The dough is gorgeous!

17:01 I know that the BBB recipe suggests we use a Dutch oven to bake the bread.

But I’m terrified of using our Dutch Oven for that (how do people get the shaped loaf in there without destroying it? Especially if they’re trying to use less parchment paper – to save resources.) I’ll use our cast-iron combo-cooker and tip the loaf from the proofing basket into the pre-heated frying pan part (the lid).

18:07 I took the bread out of the oven a minute or so ago. It smells fabulous!

The next morning, we cut into the bread, thinking we would toast it to have with soup. But it looked so good that we decided to just have bread and butter.

Yes!! Finally, 100% approval from the resident critic! 100% approval from me too…. We love the look of the dark crust against the beautiful crumb.

Mmmmmm!! Delicious!

BBB March 2023
BBB March 2023

Thank you, Elle! This may well become our standard every-day bread.

Here is the March 2023 BBB recipe that we were given. And here is what I did to it:

Prozymi horiatiko psomi (Wild Greek Village Bread)
based on Lucy Parissi’s (supergolden bakes) recipe for Greek Bread (Horiatiko Psomi)

Greek Village Bread (Horiatiko Psomi / χωριάτικο ψωμί) is […] incredibly delicious! This rustic country-style loaf has a wonderfully soft crumb and crisp crust.
– Lucy Parissi, supergolden bakes | Greek Bread (Horiatiko Psomi)

makes 1 large round loaf


  • spoonful (~15 grams) Jane Mason whole wheat starter from the fridge
  • 50 grams whole wheat flour
  • 50 grams water


  • 450 grams unbleached “no additives” all-purpose flour
  • 20 grams fine semolina flour
  • 80 grams corn flour
  • 300 grams water
  • 10 grams (1/2 Tbsp) honey (the BBB recipe calls for “1 tablespoon sugar”)
  • 60 grams 2% milk
  • 60 grams olive oil
  • 12 grams sea salt + 10 grams water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, for the bowl


  • water (the BBB recipe calls for “1 egg white, beaten with 2 teaspoons water”)
  • sesame seeds (the BBB recipe specifies the amount: “3 tablespoons”. I just dumped on what would fit.)
  1. Leavener: On the evening before the day you will be baking the bread, mix leavener ingredients in a smallish bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave overnight in the oven with only the light turned on if it’s cool at night (or with the light turned off if it’s warm outside).
  2. Dough: On the morning of the day you will be baking the bread,
    • notice that the leavener has a concave surface. This indicates that it has eaten everything and needs refreshing. Sprinkle in a little more whole wheat flour and the same amount by weight of water.
    • In a bowl that is large enough for the final dough to triple, sift in all-purpose flour. Whisk in the wheat germ and semolina flour. Add 300 grams water, the milk, and honey. Use a dough whisk (or wooden spoon) to make a rough dough. Make sure that all the flour has been hydrated. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter until the leavener is ready. In retrospect, this step could easily take place the night before, to really develop the flavour.
    • When the surface of the leavener is convex and bubbly, it’s very likely that it will float, indicating that it’s ready to go. Take a small spoonful of the leavener to make sure it floats in a bowl of cool water. When it floats, proceed by adding it to the flour/water mixture. Use a dough whisk (or wooden spoon, or your hands) to mix everything together. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter for about 40 minutes.
    • adding the salt: In a small bowl, whisk the salt into 10 grams of water. Pour the salt mixture over the dough.
    • Kneading: Use one of your hands to squoosh the salt water into the dough; use the other hand to steady the bowl – this way you always have a clean hand. At first the dough might be a bit messy and seem like it’s coming apart. Persevere. Suddenly, it will seem more like dough than weirdly folded, slimy glop. Keep folding it over onto itself until it is relatively smooth. Don’t be overly concerned if the corn doesn’t seem to want to mix itself in on this first time. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
    • Repeat the above step 2 or 3 more times.
  3. Pre-Shaping: After the final folding, when the dough has almost doubled,
    • turn it out onto a lightly floured board. Use the dough scraper to gently fold in half, just as gently patting off any extra flour that might be there.
    • Wash and dry the bowl.
    • Continue folding in half until the dough is shaped into a ball. Cover the dough ball with the overturned clean mixing bowl, and allow it to rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Shaping:
    • Scatter some flour evenly on top of the preshaped boule. Using the palms of your hands, flatten the boule into a disc that is 4cm thick or so. Use the dough scraper to turn it over, and then fold the disc in half, in half, in half, etc. etc. to form a tight boule.
    • Use the dough scraper on the sides of the shaped boule to tighten it further. Wet your hands with water and gently wet the top of the boule. Scatter sesame seeds liberally over the wet surface. Then place the boule seam side down in the banneton that has been liberally rice floured.
    • Cover the banneton with the overturned mixing bowl and leave on the counter for half an hour (or so) to rise.
  5. Preheat the oven: Put both halves of the cast-iron combo cooker into the oven and turn it to 450F.
  6. Baking: Check to see if the bread is ready to bake, also making sure the oven is thoroughly preheated before proceeding.
    [The finger-dent test for proofing] remains the most foolproof method that I know. To do the test, poke the rising loaf witha floured finger, making an indentation about 1/2 inch deep. If it springs back immediately, the loaf needs more proofing time. If the indentation springs back slowly and incompletely, the loaf is fully proofed and read to bake. If the indentation doesn’t spring back at all, the loaf may be a little past its prime point for baking but not necessarily overproofed. Don’t panic! Go ahead and bake, knowing the loaf may collapse a bit
    -Ken Forkish, ‘Methods and Techniques’, Evolutions in Bread, p.51

    • Put on your best oven mitts. Remove the combo-cooker from the oven and place the two parts on the stove or a rack. (They want to burn unprotected surfaces!)
    • Carefully invert the banneton to place the loaf seam side up in the center of the very hot, preheated shallow pan. Score a cross onto the top of the loaf. Cover with the deep pan and put it into the oven.
    • Bake for about 25 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and continue to bake for a further 50 minutes, or until the bread is a deep golden brown.
  7. Cooling: Remove the bread to a footed rack to cool completely before cutting into the loaf; it is still cooking internally when first removed from the oven! If you wish to serve warm bread (of course you do), reheat them after they have cooled completely: To reheat any uncut bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread into the hot oven for about ten minutes. This will rejuvenate the crust and warm the crumb perfectly.
    Set the bread on a rack and (this is one of the hardest parts of bread baking) keep your hands off that beautiful crusty bread for at least an hour, or until it is completely cool. You will be dying to cut into that gorgeous warm bread, the crust crackling as it cools, but remember that it’s still cooking inside; the crumb is still jelling, and the crust still developing. The crust will soften partway through the cooling time, but it will crisp again as it cools completely.
    – Thomas Keller, ‘Breads: Cooling’, Bouchon Bakery


Wild yeast vs commercial yeast: The BBB recipe calls for using commercial yeast. But because we have been making wild yeast bread almost exclusively since July 2017, I had to use it. Very very very very occasionally, if I’ve forgotten to prepare the starter, I’ll use commercial yeast. (Bread made at home with commercial yeast still tastes pretty darn good. But it just doesn’t taste quite as good as bread made with our Jane Mason 100% whole wheat starter.) There is something really magical about making bread with only flour, water, salt, olive oil, milk, honey and time. Then there is the flavour. It just tastes better!

Milk: After making this bread, I realized that yoghurt could just as easily be used as milk. Next time, that’s what I’ll do.

Oiling the proofing bowl: Mum never oiled the proofing bowl. She never had difficulty getting the dough out of the bowl onto the board. I am my mother’s daughter. I refuse to oil the bowl. Especially if there is oil in the dough.
unoiled proofing bowl

Water instead of egg white: Because good eggs are at a premium right now, I cannot bring myself to use them as sticking agents for the sesame seed topping. Happily, water works just as well.

Cooling the bread completely before cutting into it: In this case, patience is not just a virtue.
In October 1995 I ate at Chez Panisse, Alice Waters’ quietly lovely restaurant in Berkeley, California. […] As we sat down and were handed the menu – decorated with a watercolour of radishes by Patricia Curtan – a basket of bread was set down on the table. Exhausted from a day spent walking San Francisco, we pounced.
      I had never eaten bread quite like it. The crust was dark, almost black; the crumb was filled with huge air pockets. It was chewy, and deliciously so. Embarrassingly, we finished the entire basket even before we had finished our drinks. (We were young and hungry.) In a heartbeat, our empty basket was silently replaced with a full one. […] That was my introduction to sourdough bread.
I know it is tempting to cut a slice off while the loaf is still hot, bu the loaf hasn’t finished baking until it has rested. Much magic happens during the resting period, and we must leave it to happen. [- ]
– Nigel Slater, ‘Breaking Bread – Sourdough chronicles’, A Cook’s Book


BBB March 2023

When we get back to the house, Yiayia is taking the golden orbs out of the oven. I move the things on the table to one side – a bottle of red wine, the bottle of olive oil, the salt and pepper shakers – and lay down a rough cotton sheet. Yiayia turns the bread onto the covered table. I feel giddy with hunger and want to sink my face into it, but I have to wait a little longer for it to cool. Finally, Mum takes the serrated knife and cuts me a wedge. She tears a tomato apart with her hands and mashes it along the bread, then drizzles the bread with olive oil, crumbles a wedge of feta over it, and sprinkles some of Yiayia’s dried oregano on top. She hands it to me on a plate.
     I bit into the warm bread. It’s chewy and dense, wet with the juice of Yiayia’s tomato and the green olive oil. The dry, creamy taste of the feta and the bitter aftertaste of the oregano are better than anything I have ever eaten back home. Flies buzz around me, wanting to share my sandwich. I shoo them away. I’ve waited a long time for this. It’s mine.
– Spiri Tsintziras, ‘Tomato sandwiches’, Afternoons in Ithaka

Now I cannot wait for tomato season! (Melt, snow! Melt!!)

Bread Baking Babes BBB 15th Anniversary: February 202315th Anniversary: Cypriot Flaounes

Elle is hosting March 2023’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:

I love breads that can be baked in a Dutch oven…or on a baking stone and covered with a stainless steel bowl or something similar. You usually get a great crust and nice, moist loaf since the moisture is contained in the Dutch oven.
     I found a great sounding recipe for Greek Village Bread – Horiatiko Psomi, which is fairly easy and uses bread flour, semolina flour and sesame seeds (although you can omit the sesame seeds if you like). It […] [is] a somewhat rich bread, not the simple Greek bread which has only flour, salt, yeast and olive oil.
– Elle, excerpt of message to BBBabes

We know you’ll want to make Greek Village Bread too! To receive a Bread Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make the bread in the next couple of weeks and post about it (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 27 February 2023. 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’ March 2023 Greek Village Bread:


BBB March 2023
Look at the Furry Black Fiend sitting so uncharacteristically politely.
He looks just like a cat!

In ancient times, bread was a very important ingredient in any person’s diet. Preparations would vary from flour with water, milk, vinegar, honey, and olive oil, of course. The bread came in a plethora of different shapes (flat, round, semicircular, oblong) and contained barley or wheat flour. […] Greek bread can present a crunchy, thick, and hard crust, with a soft but compact interior, like in horiatiko […] Original[ly] from Greek villages, xoriatiko psomi is, in many places, still baked in outdoor wood ovens. This is a dense type of bread and can be available in different flours or a combination of more than one. Often, the main fatty ingredient of xoriatiko is the famous Greek extra virgin olive oil. […] [I]t [is] a perfect companion for sauces, creamy toppings, and olive oil dressing. To enjoy it better, cut it in slices, sprinkle with oregano and a drizzle of fresh olive oil, and put in the oven for less than 5 minutes: A fragrant, tasty, tasty and aromatic appetizer in many Greek homes and tavernas.
– Gabi Ancarola, The Tiny Book (Crete travel Blog) | World Tastes: Discover Everything about Greek Bread
It’s an image as timeless as it is unchangeable – whether it’s a lavish Christmas feast or a quick country breakfast, there is one quiet, unmovable star of the show. This is the humble loaf of freshly baked Greek bread, called psomi in Greek, without which no meal is complete. From Michelin-starred restaurants to yiayia’s (grandma’s) kitchen table, bread is ever-present. It’s considered a must, not an optional extra.
– Omaira Gill, Greece Is | Breaking Bread in Greece

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5 responses to “Wild Greek Village Bread (BBB March 2023)

  1. Kelly (A Messy Kitchen)

    Gorgeous crumb, you got some nice holes even! This is definitely one to get eaten quickly and want more. I loved that it gave a sourdough that tasted like sourdough. Usually my sourdough loaves are a bit weak in the sour category. I think the overnight retard helped with that.

    edit 17 March 2023, 10:40: Ha. I loved that this bread tasted like bread. We are not at all fans of “sour” in sourdough. Perhaps that’s why I generally refrain from doing overnight retards. We love the aroma from this bread baking though. I thought it might be because of the presence of the semolina flour and honey. Even though there is such a small amount of each one. – Elizabeth

  2. Cathy (Bread Experience)

    Lovely crust and crumb. This is definitely a bread to make again and again. I really like that it converts so easily to sourdough and the addition of some whole grain flour. I love the photo with the cat.

    edit 17 March 2023, 10:43: Thank you, Cathy. It is a keeper, isn’t it? I just mixed another batch this morning. This time I used yoghurt instead of milk. It will be interesting to taste to see if there is any difference at all. As for the cat, he does look so perfect there doesn’t he? It’s so uncharacteristic too. He is a little thief; the day before, he managed to find some boiled potatoes that were cooling to be made into home-fries. The little brat ate a whole potato! :stomp: (Would you like a lovely black cat? You’ve already seen how beautifully behaved he is from his photo. :-) ) – Elizabeth

  3. Karen (Karen's Kitchen Stories)

    It really is a nice dough to work with, isn’t it? Boy, those photos of the snow look gorgeous but I know it must have caused havoc!

    edit 17 March 2023, 10:52: It IS. It IS. I can’t tell if it’s because of the semolina flour or the olive oil. But it’s so silken! Ha. The snow does look beautiful when it’s all white like that, doesn’t it? It is finally disappearing in today’s rain storm. (I hope I haven’t jinxed anything by saying that – eeeeek – what if the rain turns into snow again?) – Elizabeth

  4. Elle (Feeding My Enthusiasms)

    Love that you substituted olive oil, honey and sourdough starter…and that it became the perfect everyday bread for you. The combo cooker obviously worked well…but too bad about not being able to use the grill. Silly weather seems to be with us all the time now. :(

    edit 17 March 2023, 10:59: We love this bread, Elle! It’s so good, I’m making more today. But in the oven again. Because yes. Silly weather indeed. It’s even crazier in your area! Hope you’re staying dry. – Elizabeth

  5. Katie Zeller (Thyme for Cooking)

    I want the tomato bread – with olive oil and red wine, please.
    Of course they would use olive oil in bread!
    As to the snow…. I won’t say it.
    I would have loved your concert.

    edit 17 March 2023, 18:16: I want the tomato bread too! And I think you’re right; you would have loved the concert, Katie. The soprano and the bass were fantastic. Actually, the whole solo 4tet was wonderful. And Stephen Sitarski’s violin solo in the Benedictus was exquisite. – Elizabeth


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