Ramazan pidesi, Turkish leavened bread traditionally eaten during the evening meals of Ramadan — a month in which Muslims strictly fast from sunup to sundown — is light, chewy and covered in sesame and nigella seeds. Turkish pizza maker Serhan Ayhan of Astoria, Queens-based pizza popup Next Level Pizza created a version of the bread that cooks up in either an Ooni oven or a home oven. Glazed with egg and yogurt and dimpled in a criss-cross design, this is a bread that deserves to be the centrepiece of your iftar (the evening meal that ends the day’s fast).
In order to make a pidesi recipe that’s versatile, Serhan provides a few different options for cooking. Yeast, salt and temperature can all vary slightly depending on your preferences.
Designed to work whether you prefer sourdough or instant yeast, Serhan’s recipe includes techniques for both. If baking with sourdough starter, you’ll need to add one day to the recipe time, as you’ll have to make a levain (a mixture of water, flour and sourdough starter) and leave it to pre-ferment overnight before adding it to the rest of the mix.
You can change the amount of salt you add to the recipe-anything between 15 to 20 grams will work-but keep in mind that the less salt used the more slack this dough will be. Serhan prefers diluting the salt in about 25g of the recipe’s water and adding it after the initial mix.
Finally, there’s room to play with the temperature of your oven, anywhere from 230° to 315°C. Pidesi baked at a higher temperature (290° to 315°C) may be done in 4 to 6 minutes and yield a softer bread with nice charring, whereas the same dough baked at a lower temperature (230° to 290°C) may be done in 6 to 12 minutes (or longer) and yield a crispier bread that has an even, golden brown crust.
10 hours (1 hour active, 9 hours passive)
3 x 12-inch pides
For the dough (sourdough version)
900 grams bread flour (12 to 13% protein)
100 grams whole wheat flour
700 grams warm water
200 grams young levain
15 to 20 grams fine sea salt
For the dough (Instant yeast version)
1000 grams bread flour (12 to 13% protein)
100 grams whole wheat flour
800 grams warm water
15 to 20 grams fine sea salt
4 grams instant dry yeast
For the glaze
10 grams water
20 grams plain full-fat yogurt
3 grams sesame seeds
3 grams nigella seeds
3 grams flaky salt
If you’re making the dough using instant dry yeast, skip to the next step. If using sourdough starter:
Ensure that your starter is well-fed (usually 3 feedings about 10 to 12 hours apart, depending on the temperature) before building the levain. The night before making your dough, mix about one tablespoon (about 25 grams) of the mature starter into 100 grams of water and 100 grams of bread flour.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, water, salt and yeast (or levain, if using). Mix by hand until just incorporated. Cover the bowl and let your dough rest for about 20 minutes.
Mix by hand until just incorporated.
Cover and rest for about 20 minutes.
After about 20 minutes, reach underneath the dough with a wet hand and pull about a quarter of it out, stretching until you feel resistance. Pull this section over the top to the other side of the dough. Repeat for each side of the dough, strengthening the gluten. Invert the entire dough in the bowl when finished and cover to rest.
Repeat this series of stretches and folds every 30 minutes about 3 or 4 times, allowing the dough to bulk ferment for a total of 3 to 5 hours, depending on the room temperature and humidity. Bulk fermenting simply means allowing dough to rest and proof in one mass before making into loaves. By the end of the bulk fermentation, the dough should feel bubbly, and it should have increased in volume by at least 20%.
Carefully dump the dough onto a work surface and portion it into 3 equal pieces using a bench scraper and scale. Each piece should weigh 620 to 630-grams. Try not to push too much air out of your dough.
Shape each dough ball into a round. To roll rounds by hand, take an open hand on one side of the dough, then turn and tighten until you have a circular dough ball. You can use a bench knife in place of your open hand to help turn and tighten the dough if you want to.
Cover the dough balls and let them rest for about 20 minutes after this initial shaping. Then, shape them again to strengthen the dough even more. The top of the dough ball should be taut. Be careful to not degas the dough or over tighten and accidentally tear its surface.
If you plan to bake the same day, allow the lightly floured dough balls (while covered) to rise at room temperature for about 3 to 4 hours before baking.
If you are not baking that same day, you can store the dough balls in the refrigerator after lightly flouring their surfaces. Doing this will allow them to continue to ferment (generally, the levain dough will be good the next day and the yeasted dough up to 2 days). Be sure to remove the dough at least 3 hours before baking to make it easier to shape and to prevent the dough from ballooning during the bake.
To make the glaze, mix together one egg, 10 grams water and 20 grams yogurt using a fork or a whisk until well combined.
Lightly flour the surface of your peel or baking pan. Place the dough ball on the pan, seam down. With a clean (or gloved) hand, gently press out the dough until it is a wide circle, being careful to not degas the dough.
Using your hands or a pastry brush, cover your dough with the glaze mixture.
To create the pattern, first use your fingers or the side of your hand to press the dough down and create a ½-inch-wide rim around the edge (this is optional — you can simply create the weave pattern).
Next, create the weave pattern. Use the same technique, starting in one direction and then in the other to form perpendicular lines.
Brush on the glaze once more and repeat the pattern to ensure its definition does not get lost during the bake.
Sprinkle flaky salt, nigella and sesame seeds on top of the dough.
There are a few approaches, but in general, we want to ensure that the inside and bottom of the pide are sufficiently baked.
A pide baked at a higher temperature (290° to 315°C) may be done in 4 to 6 minutes and yield a softer bread with nice charring, whereas the same dough baked at a lower temperature (230° to 290°C) may be done in 6 to 12 minutes (or longer) and yield a crispier bread that has an even, golden brown crust.
If baking in an Ooni, preheat the oven for at least 15 minutes on high. Aim for a stone temperature around (260° to 315°C).
Dial the flame to low, then launch your pide and leave it to cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the back begins to brown.
Turn and continue to bake, keeping an eye on the dough to ensure that it browns evenly but does not burn. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes total.
If baking in a home oven on a pizza stone or peel, preheat your oven to (260°C) for about 45 minutes. Place your dough on a baking sheet or baking pan and cook for 8 to 12 minutes (up to 15 minutes if cooking in a baking pan) until brown but not charred. Rotate the pide halfway through the bake, checking for doneness.
Allow the pide to cool on a cooling rack for a few minutes before serving. Tear or cut using a knife or pizza cutter at the seams of the dough, share and enjoy.
Afiyet olsun! (Enjoy your meal!)