Sep 22, 2010
This is pizza disguised as bread. If you add ingredients like pepperoni or mushrooms, it will indeed be one, a pizza. In the days of my childhood, when we had too many guests to be seated at our dinner table, which happened often, mom prepared a buffet dinner. This red beauty was a late occupant of the buffet, served for those who craved for something to eat in the later hours of the evening.
Me and my brother would enjoy the company of my parents' guests since they were usually neighbours in our block, who also had children of our age. When parents gathered so did we. We were a group of almost 20 kids of various ages, guided by the older kids in the group. My brother, had he read this, would claim I wasn't by any chance part of that group; being the youngest, nobody counted me for a person. But I was! Anyway, we'd entertain ourselves during those evenings and wouldn't bother the adults while they did their thing. Adults on the other hand, would be far more flexible than usual, probably thinking "out of sight out of mind", so we were even allowed to go down on the street to play after dark. The time was safer those days and there were too many of us for anything bad to happen.
But when childless guests came over, it wasn't as pleasant for the neither for us, since bored from being alone unattended, we wouldn't leave my parents in peace for a moment. So one day while mom was busy in the kitchen preparing for the evening, she told us my father's boss and his wife were coming over for dinner, who she warned, were unaware of our, meaning me and my brother's, existence. And had he found out that my father indeed had kids, he would ruthlessly fire him! Shocked and terrified with the idea of dad loosing his job, questioning the little flaws in mom's reasoning hadn't occurred to us. Was dad working for a "child hater"? Didn't he own his business? Well, we were kids. Instructed to be invisible for the whole evening, we were told to abstain from being seen anywhere near the dining room, to walk on tip toes and whisper no matter what. Mom wasn't that heartless though: she handed us a cocktail spoon (I can recall in detail) and instructed us to tap it to a wine glass whenever we needed her, to trigger a chin chin sound to which she would come by upon hearing. Brilliant!
The evening went smoothly, my brother and I loved the idea of sending secret signals to mom, unaware of the fact that they were laughing with their guests, whomever they were, to the idea of us, absorbed in our agent game for the sake of saving my dad from getting fired. I wasn't aware of the truth of that evening for a very long time and when I did, I admired mom's cunning yet innocent plot.
This is one of the things she was baking, my mom, in the kitchen that day: "Biberli ekmek" - paprika bread. That's what it has to do with it. I hope you build your own sweet memories around it…
Yields 8 slices
- a 25x18 cm (10x7 inch) or equivalent baking tin
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 tablespoon salt
- 5 red paprikas, seeds and stalk removed
- 2 onions, shredded
- a handful of walnuts, chopped
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper paste (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon hot or mild red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon hot or mild red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 teaspoon salt
For the dough:
For the filling:
- Combine flour and instant yeast in a deep bowl. Add milk and water.
- Knead the dough by making whisking movements with your hand. Knead thoroughly until no bumps remain. The dough you obtain should be relatively fluid. Not as fluid as a cake dough but not as stiff as bread dough either.
- Add olive oil and salt and give it a final stir. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen cloth and place it in a warm, dark corner in your kitchen. Leave for 30-40 minutes for yeast to activate.
- Meanwhile, shred the paprika in a food processor. Place them on a sieve set and drain for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 170C/340F.
- Combine paprika, onion, walnuts, sesame seeds, red pepper paste, 2 tbsp olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and stir until everything is blended well.
- Oil the baking tray with 1/2 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle 1/2 tblp flour. Pour the dough and flatten it with your fingers to make it fit in the baking tin.
- Spread paprika mixture on the dough evenly.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. It is done when an inserted knife comes out clean.