Koulouri – Cypriot village bread

Cypriot village bread

For this month’s Random Recipes challenge, Dom asked us to select a book we received as a gift last Christmas, and randomly select a recipe.

For me, this was a great theme as it brings my year of Random Recipes full circle – the very first challenge I took part in was in January, when we also had to bake from a Christmas-gifted book.

The only book I was given was 100 Great Breads by Paul Hollywood (thanks pony!) and in all honesty the book could do with redeeming itself – the recipe I picked last time didn’t exactly turn out perfectly!

This time the pony opened the book at a random page and landed on Koulouri, which is apparently a Cypriot village bread. I had to make quite a few alterations to the recipe to use what I had on hand rather than buying a whole set of new ingredients.

Into the dough was supposed to go a pinch of mastika and a pinch of mechlebe – umm what?! As Paul says they’re similar in flavour to aniseed or fennel, I got creative and went for Chinese 5 spice which seemed to go ok, although never having tried the original recipe I can’t say how close it is.

For the outside of the bread, sunflower seeds, cumin seeds and caraway seeds were called for – sunflower I could do, but cumin and caraway I swapped for poppy seeds and a teaspoon of ground cumin – again it seemed to work ok!

After loving spending an afternoon making this bread, I was a little disheartened when the pony declared “It tastes like shoes”, but I actually rather liked it. Freshly baked we ate it with a greek salad inspired omelette and olives to keep with a vaguely Cypriot theme, but since then I’ve had it simply toasted with butter, which really lets the flavours come through.

It keeps incredible well too – a whole week later and I was amazed to find it was still ok for toasting!

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Thanks Dom for a great year of Random Recipes and for getting me to try recipes I never would have picked out otherwise – some have been great and some have been awful, but that’s why I love it!

Koulouri – Cypriot village bread (adapted from Paul Hollywood’s 100 Great Breads)

(this makes half the original quantity of bread, but still a pretty hefty loaf)

  • 250g strong white bread flour
  • pinch Chinese 5 spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 14g fast action dried yeast
  • 25ml olive oil
  • 150ml warm water
  • 50g sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

Add the flour, 5 spice, salt, yeast, oil and water to a large bowl and stir until combined. Turn out onto the work surface and knead for about 7 or 8 minutes, or until the dough is springy and elastic. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover and leave to rise for an hour, or until doubled in size.

Tip the sesame seeds, poppy seeds and cumin onto a plate and pour over a tablespoon or so of water to moisten the seeds. Once the dough has risen, shape into a ball then roll in the seeds to completely coat the bread. Place on a baking tray and leave to rise again for another hour, or until doubled again.

To get the shape (which didn’t work perfectly for me but nevermind) score a line all the way around the side of the bread and add two slashes on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 220 degrees until crisp and golden, then leave to cool before slicing.

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9 thoughts on “Koulouri – Cypriot village bread

  1. how funny that you made it full circle… it has certainly been a pleasure having you on board for the full year… can you believe a year has gone by so quickly… that’s crazy!… glorious looking bread my dear, very nice x

  2. I really like the look of this bread – an excellent random selection. The taste sounds intriguing, but in a good way. There’s one thing that’s bothering me. though – what do shoes taste like?

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