The recipe below is my own version of Sephardi Bread cobbled together from various sources. My Mom does have a Sephardi Bread recipe in her Celebration Breads book, but I didn’t make it. This is her introduction to that recipe:
The Jews of Spain and Portugal were the original Sephardim. Their descendants settled in Western Europe and in countries bordering the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East. The Sephardim observe unique customs that are different from those of the Ashkenazim – Middle European Jews. One of the most important differences is that they do not bake challah, the special bread used for the Sabbath. Instead, the Spanish and Moroccans tend to make plain raised leavened breads while the North African and Middle Eastern countries favor flat breads.
Shaped and rising on parchment rounds
Washed in egg, sprinkled with seeds, and placed on the pre-heated baking stone
Like Jews around the world, Sephardic Jews celebrate Yom Kippur, a holiday that follows eight days after Rosh Hashanah. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, the Day of Divine Judgment, and the day of the “affliction of the souls” when individuals are cleansed of their sins. On this day, each Jew is expected to pray for forgiveness for sins between man and God and correct any wrongful deeds against his fellow man. At sunset on the day before Yom Kippur, a full day of fasting begins.
After the fast of Yom Kippur, many Sephardim stuff their bread with a spicy mixture to revive themselves and to symbolically bridge the old and the New Year.
Ooh, they look scrumptious
A delightfully tasty and decidedly playful loaf
I think I'm in love with coriander. Yup, that's it.
- 2 cups warm water for soaking raisins
- 1 cup warm water about 110 degrees
- ½ cup raisins dark or golden or a combination
- 4 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon ground whole coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 4-4½ cups flour
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 1 egg for wash
Cover raisins in 2 cups warm water and let plump for 30 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
In a skillet, toast the sesame seeds, coriander, and poppy seeds over moderate heat until fragrant, 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
In a large bowl, stir yeast into water to soften.
Add flour, salt, olive oil, honey, eggs, and toasted seeds to the yeast mixture. Mix well adding more flour or water as necessary.
Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough.
Mix in raisins. Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free spot until the dough is doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press to deflate. Cut the dough in half and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll each piece into an 18-inch-long rope and let rest for 5 minutes longer, take 1 of the ropes and, starting from 1 end, form the dough into a coil; tuck the end under the completed coil. Place coil on a piece of parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining rope.
Cover each loaf with a large inverted bowl. Let stand for 1 hour, until the loaves have nearly doubled in bulk.
About 30 minutes before baking, place a baking stone in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.
Before baking, whisk egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the egg wash over the loaves and let stand uncovered for 30 minutes. Brush with the egg wash once more (and sprinkle with sesame seeds if you wish).
When ready to bake, transfer the parchment paper to the baking stone.
Bake for 15 minutes. If top of loaf is browning unevenly, make a small dome of foil to cover just the tip of the loaf. Bake for 15 minutes more or until the crust is golden brown. The internal temperature of the loaf should be about 190 degrees. Immediately remove bread from the baking stone and cool on a rack.