sesame twisted rings (bbd#30)

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summary: sesame twisted rings based on a recipe for Koulouria in “Mediterranean Street Food” by Anissa Helou; twisted baguette; information on YeastSpotting, Regional Recipes and Bread Baking Day; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

Bread Baking Day (BBD) #30: Twisted Bread

Greek-style bread For months now, I’ve been looking at the photograph of Greek Sesame Galettes (Kouloúria) in “Mediterranean Street Food” by Anissa Helou. Every time, I have promised that THAT’s the next bread I’ll make. And each time, as I find myself making a completely different kind of bread, I’m reminded of Vern Rutsala’s poem ‘The Windowsill Over the Sink’ (in Atlantic Monthly Aug1984): that I “can keep everything but promises“.

And then I read Tanna’s (My Kitchen in Half Cups) post on twisted bread. And I made yet another promise. I vowed to make twisted bread for Bread Baking Day #30!

I thought I’d finally make the BBB‘s ensaïmadas. Or their Beirut Tahini Swirls. But then reality stomped back in and there I was making baguettes. Not that having baguettes is a hardship, mind.

twisted bread And so, as I found myself NOT making Greek Sesame Galettes (Κουλούρια) yet again, I decided I’d try twisting the shaped loaf in the way that Tanna had. This is French-style bread. The reason it is looking just a trifle bent is because I made it too long for the stone and both loaves hung over the edge of the stone.

Then the other day, I was looking in our cookbooks for how to make that wonderful white sauce that is served with donair kebab (haven’t found it yet) and once again, Helou’s book fell open to page 118 “Greek Sesame Galettes”. They called out to me. They mocked me, saying, “Promises, Schmomises!! Yah. Right…“.

I had to silence the voices. It was hot in the kitchen. It was noon. But I made the bread. And because it was so ridiculously hot, it was ready to be baked by dinnertime. We baked the rings in the barbecue.

Here is what I did to make these wonderful rings:

Sesame Twisted Rings
based on the recipe for ‘Greek Sesame Galettes (Kouloúria)’ in “Mediterranean Street Food” by Anissa Helou

makes four rings

Part one

  • ½ c lukewarm water *
  • 1 scant tsp active dry yeast
  • ¼ c whole wheat flour

Part two

  • ¼ c additional water
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1½ Tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ c additional whole wheat flour
  • 2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp fine seasalt

Part three

  • small amount of milk and water **
  • lots of sesame seeds


  1. Part one Pour lukewarm water into a large mixing bowl (I use a straight sided casserole dish. Add yeast and whisk to dissolve the yeast.
  2. Whisk in ¼ c whole wheat flour. Cover and set aside in a draft free warm area until it doubles (about an hour in our kitchen that was around 25C).
  3. Part two Add the rest of the water, honey and olive oil to the above. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flours and salt until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  4. Sprinkle a hint of flour onto a board. Turn the dough out onto the board.
  5. Hand wash and dry the mixing bowl. (Yes, this step is important. It prepares the rising bowl AND allows the dough to rest a little.)
  6. Knead the dough until smooth and shiny (about 10 minutes). Use your dough scraper to keep the board clean. Add a tiny bit more flour if the dough seems sticky (but try not to add too much – the dough should be soft).
  7. Put the dough into the clean dry bowl; cover and let rise in a warm part of the kitchen to double (an hour or two).
  8. Part three After the dough has doubled, scatter a tiny amount of flour onto the board. Turn the dough out onto the board. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece to form 8 ropes. Roll each piece again to until each rope is about 50 cm (20 inches) long. edit 26 June 2010: For smaller rings, divide the dough into 16 equal pieces and roll each rope until it is about 25 cm long. This way, all the rings fit easily onto one baking tray.
  9. Put a generous amount of sesame seeds into a shallow bowl (I used the lid of the casserole dish).
  10. Take two of the ropes and dip them into the milky water. Place the ropes in the sesame seeds to encrust them completely. Twist the two ropes together and join the ends to form a ring. Put the finished ring onto a parchment papered cookie sheet. Repeat with the rest of the ropes until you have 4 rings, placing them well apart – you might need two cookie sheets (I did). Cover with a clean tea towel and let sit for about 30 minutes.
  11. Baking If you are using the barbecue:
    Preheat the barbecue to high. Place the tray over direct heat, close the lid of the barbecue and bake for about 3 minutes, turning the tray once to account for uneven heat in the barbecue. Then move the tray over to cook with indirect heat – lid down again – until they’re done – about another 5 or so minutes… (our gas barbecue can be turned off on one side).
    If you are using the oven: Preheat oven to 400F.
  12. Place the bread trays on the upper shelf (to prevent burning on bottoms). Immediately turn the oven down to 375F and bake for 10 – 15 minutes til golden on top and hollow sounding on bottom.
  13. Remove rings from oven and allow to cool on a well ventilated rack. Wait til they are cool before opening them. They are still continuing to bake inside!***

*Tap water is fine to use – just make sure that it has stood for at least 12 hours so that the chlorine has dissipated. Under no circumstances should you use water from the hot water tap. Water from the hot water tap sits festering in your hot water tank, leaching copper, lead, zinc, solder, etc. etc from the tank walls… the higher temperature causes faster corrosion. Of course, saying that it is unsafe to use water from the hot water tap might be an urban myth, but why tempt fate? Heat the water in a kettle or microwave and add cold water until it is the correct temperature (use the baby bottle test on the back of your wrist – your fingers have no idea of temperature!)

** Anissa Helou calls for egg white wash rather than milk and water. Because I didn’t want to waste one of our farm fresh eggs, I used a half and half mix of 3.2% milk and water instead.

*** If you wish to serve warm bread, reheat it after it has cooled completely. To reheat unsliced bread, turn the oven to 500F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes.

**** Please note that our cup measures hold 250ml. I would have weighed the ingredients if I weren’t too lazy to calculate the weights. (Helou uses volume measures only.)

***** I’m afraid I didn’t plan ahead very well and so we had two trays. It meant that each tray of rings had to be over direct heat the whole time. So there was some charring. However, in spite of the charring, the rings were still fabulously good.

twisted bread rings ****** Edit 26 June 2010: I made the rings again – but this time shaped them twice as small. And on half the rings, in place of sesame seeds I used nigella seeds. We LOVE the smaller rings because a.) they all fit on one pan making it MUCH easier to bake them in the barbecue and b.) there’s more crust. :whoohoo: (Read more here)

twisted bread Why oh why didn’t anyone tell me how great this bread is?! Why wasn’t I told to make it immediately? :stomp:

So, thank you, Tanna, Anissa and Natashya for the push to finally make these rings. We love them! Crispy on the outside and beautifully soft and fluffy on the inside. And don’t they look lovely too?

Yes, yes. I know. They aren’t perfectly golden, are they? The hazards of baking in the barbecue are that there might be uneven cooking. But the advantage of NOT turning on the oven when it’s hot and humid far outweigh the disadvantage of creating a few dark spots.

We had the rings with grilled pork, beet tops, green beans and oven-roasted potatoes last night. And this morning, we had them for breakfast with Monforte “Don’s Blue” ash chèvre and Vesuviana coffee. I can’t decide which way was more delicious.

Bread Baking Day #30
Bread Baking Day#30

Natashya (Living in the Kitchen with Puppies) is hosting the 30th round of Zorra’s (Kochtopf) Bread Baking Day. Natashya wrote:

This month’s Bread Baking Day theme is Breads with a Twist!
So what do we mean by breads with a twist?
Maybe a braid, plait or double braid?
Long, twisted breadsticks?
Pretzels, the ultimate twisted snack?
Or even some buns, twisted into knots?
Go have fun twisting up some good bread!

The deadline for submission is June 1st, 2010.

For complete details on how to participate in BBD, please go to:

Please also read about previous BBDs and WBDs:

And as always, before completing your BBD post, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to read about


Yeastspotting - every Friday ( image)

Each week, Susan (Wild Yeast) compiles a list of many bread-specific recipes from across the web. For complete details on how to be included in the YeastSpotting round up, please read the following:



I have just one small quibble: What is it with recipes that do not include water in the list of ingredients?! I hate having to read the instructions to find out how much water to use. :stomp:

This post is partially mirrored on The Fresh Loaf


edit: Mmmm: there are so many wonderful looking breads for this week’s YeastSpotting.

2nd edit:
Regional Recipes: Greece
regional recipes ( image) This post has been submitted to Joanne’s (Eats Well With Others) “Regional Recipes”, a monthly event to celebrate food from around the world. Joanne wrote:

I wanted to taste the world. However, being a medical student on a budget…traveling the globe isn’t really an option. Which is why I was so happy to take over Regional Recipes…a monthly blog event in which we cook from a different country each month!

The deadline for posting about Greek food is 30 June 2010. For roundups and information on how to participate, please read the following:


This entry was posted in baking, BBD, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, crossblogging, posts with recipes, PPN; YeastSpotting; MLLA; T&C on by .

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3 responses to “sesame twisted rings (bbd#30)

  1. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    HoHo, my sentiments exactly: water is an ingredient and belongs in the list with all the others!
    Delighted you’ve silenced those voices with such terrific results ;-)
    … my thought is though that you are probably already are hearing more voices … just part of that bread, cookbook addiction we all suffer from.

    Lalalalalalala I don’t know WHAT you mean, Tanna. Lalalalalalalala I can’t hear any Lalalalalalalalala voices. Lalalalalalalalala -Elizabeth (it’s hard to type with one’s fingers pressed into one’s ears) Lalalalalala

  2. Natashya

    They look awesome! I have that book on my wishlist – do you recommend it? Thanks so much for doing the twist with me on Bread Baking Day!

    Thank you for coming up with the idea, Natashya. We couldn’t be happier with these new twists. And yes, I definitely recommend Helou’s book. (Here’s one of my reviews ( and because I liked it so much, here’s another ( -Elizabeth


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