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Doing Daktyla

Printed From: Foods of the World Forum
Category: Food Groups
Forum Name: Grains, Breads and Baking
Forum Discription: A place to discuss breads and grains in general, and also for baking projects that don't have a particular country or region..
Printed Date: 26 September 2020 at 16:01

Topic: Doing Daktyla
Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Subject: Doing Daktyla
Date Posted: 26 June 2018 at 13:47
Always trust your instincts!

Good advice, that. But we often have difficulty following it, because we believe that others, especially if they come with a sense of authority, know more than we do.

Case in point: Daktyla, as presented in Treuille & Ferrigno’s Ultimate Bread. Daktyla is a multi-grain Greek village bread that I’ve been intrigued with for some time. It’s made in the form of a break-apart loaf, and seemed to be a perfect dinner bread.

The recipe in Ultimate Bread calls for baking it at 425F for 45 minutes. That seemed, to me, to be an incredibly long bake time at that high a temperature. But the Ultimate Bread team are known worldwide for their baking skills. And I’ve made several of their breads in the past, with nary a problem. So I put my instincts aside, and followed their directions.

As I suspected, the bread was overdone, to say the least. It had a thick, hard crust, and a dry crumb. Essentially, it came out of the oven as if it were already stale. In fact, I converted it to breadcrumbs to use otherwise.

My interest in Daktyla remained unabated, however. So I did a search. There are pages of information about this bread, with recipes falling into two groups. The first were obvious, albeit non-attributed, copies of the Treuille & Ferrigno recipe. Excluding those, I found several that were variations on the theme. In every case, among the latter group, the temperature, bake time, or both were considerably lower. For example, the King Arthur Flour version calls for baking at 375F for 25-30 minutes. On the BreadManTalking blog, the bread is baked for 45 minutes, but the called-for temperature is a mere 350F.

Obviously, there was a definite slip in the Ultimate Bread recipe. Based on past experience, I’m assuming there was a problem in proof-reading, rather than it being a bad recipe. I suspect what was meant was to start at 425F, spray-steam the bread, lower the temp to 375F, and bake for 25 minutes. By all rights, that should have been my second attempt. Instead, I’ve been playing with various versions of this bread, amending and adapting to reach the final form.

The version I’m most happy with is, essentially, the King Arthur Flour version, with some modifications. For instance, KA does not call for honey at all. Its version uses all-purpose flour. And so forth.

Here is the version I’m happy with:

(Greek Village Bread)

For the sponge:

1 cup whole wheat bread (white preferred)
½ cup fine cornmeal
1 tsp instant yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water
1 tbls honey

For the dough:

2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 ½ tsp salt
2 tbls olive oil
Milk for glazing
¼ cup sesame seeds

Make the sponge: Mix the whole wheat flour, cornmeal, yeast, water, and honey in a bowl. If using a stand mixer, just use the mixing bowl. Let the mixture sit, covered, for one hour, or until it is foamy and full of bubbles.

Make the dough: Mix the flour, salt, and olive oil into the sponge to form a firm, but moist, dough, adding a bit more water or flour as needed. Knead dough 10 minutes by hand, or five minutes by machine, using the dough hook.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 ½ hours. Punch down the dough and let rest ten minutes. Prep a baking sheet.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Form into a slightly flattened log. Divide into 8, equally sized, oblong-shaped pieces. Arrange the oblongs on the sheet pan in a straight line, with each piece barely touching the one next to it. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise one hour.

Preheat oven to 425F.

Gently brush the bread with milk. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (I use mixed white and black). Put bread in pre-heated oven. Spray with water. Repeat spraying two more times, at 30 second intervals. Lower heat to 375F. Bake until bread is golden brown, about 25 minutes, turning once halfway through baking.

Cool on a wire rack.

Note: Most recipes call for dividing the dough into 6 pieces. For our taste, this results in bread pieces that are two large, so go with 8 instead.

But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket

Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 28 June 2018 at 01:37

As you might recall, I spent almost two years in Greece,  in a wide variety of autonomous regions. 

I am questioning "corn flour" ..   In  Eygpt this bread is made without corn meal and this bread dates back 8,000 years.   

Greece is not a " corn " ( ears of fresh corn )  producer to my knowledge.  Perhaps in Northern  Greece ..   Also as you know corn is Mexican, if memory serves me correctly and it was not until the 1520´s, when Hernán Cortez brought tomatoes, chilies and corn from Mexico to Europe.   

To my knowledge in large quantities:  The only 2 countries that grow bio sustainable corn are Italy and Romania ( for polenta ) .. 

Is this an added by you and modern bakers  for taste pleasure ?  

1 more thing,  daktlya in Greek means "fingers" ..  

Thanks,  Have a lovely summer ..  

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 28 June 2018 at 05:34

I have no idea when corn was added to the mix. Sometime in the past 600 years, of course, but who knows precisely when? Just as nobody can exactly date when gazpacho shifted from almonds to tomatoes.

Every recipe I have seen for Daktyla uses all three grains.

The bread is called "fingers" because, with the break-apart separations, it is said to resemble a hand; or, at least, the fingers thereof. However, in Cyprus, Daktyla refers to both a form of this bread, and to a confection in which dough is rolled (sort of like cigars). The translation "fingers" certainly makes more sense for those individual rolls.

You may be right about where, in Europe, corn is grown. I don't know myself. What I do know, however, is that corn---alone or in conjunction with other grains---is used in breads all across Europe, from Portugal to the Ukraine.

But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 28 June 2018 at 07:07
Margi, I'm curious as to your reference to the Egyptian version of this bread. None or my references, nor an extensive web search, reveal any Egyptian bread of this nature.

"Multi-grain" Egyptian breads abound. Most often this means a combination of whole wheat and processed wheat. Often enough, however, other grains are added. Barley is very common. Indeed, barley breads reach back into antiquity in Egypt, and are still popular today.

Corn is far from unknown in Egyptian bread making, and is the main ingredient of Aish Merhrah---a corn bread made with a heavy infusion of fenugreek.

At any rate, if you have references to the Egyptian version of Daktyla, I'd sure appreciate seeing them.

But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket

Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 28 June 2018 at 09:13

I shall send you the website link over the weekend ..  

Sorry I am a bit pressed for time as it is 17.15 here .. 

Shall be in contact on the weekend to continue ..

Have a lovely day ..  

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 29 June 2018 at 12:21

1)  Egypt according to Wikipedia ( Google:  Ancient Egyptian Daktyla Bread ) and Ancient Greek Daklaya Bread  did not know of corn as stated above .. 

2)  Corn arrived in Europe in the mid 1500s via Spain ..  

3)  As you know,  Barley and wheat were used primarily during both the ancient Egyptian and ancient Greek Civilizations ..   

So, if you read up on Wikipedia, your questions shall be answered surely .. 

Another point, is to contact the  Greek Food and Agricultural  Department in Athens on their ancient original récipes for this bread which differ from  Cyprus and  Egypt and do same for Egypt ..

The Food & Agricultural Ministry or Departments ..  

Have a nice weekend .. and summer ..  

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 29 June 2018 at 14:47
Well, if we're talking about the ancient versions, it would have been emmer, rather than wheat as we know it.

That said, we're talking about a modern bread, as found all over rural Greece. And that one uses all three (i.e., whole wheat, processed wheat, and corn). So, the open question is: when, in the 500 years since corn entered Europe, did it become part of this bread?

But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket

Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 29 June 2018 at 23:21
According to the uncountable recipes I had looked at online, " Depending where in Greece " .. 

There are over 1,500 islands in Greece, and then there is Greek  Cyprus  and  Turkish  Cyprus .. 

Then, the neighboring countries who also have their " version " ..  

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 09 July 2018 at 11:07
This sounds like a very tasty bread, Brook - I'd like to try it.

Alas, it may be the closest that I ever get to Greece....

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