BRÖTCHEN | Ninda Purpura / Küçük Ballı Ekmekler TURKEY MESOPOTAMIA Hittite, Babylon and Sumer honey breads

The bread called ninda in ancient Anatolian, Sumerian and Babylonian societies started with a pre-ferment that combined flour ground from einkorn wheat, with honey and molasses. After a couple of days this pre-ferment was added to flour, honey and water, then rested overnight before baking early the following morning.

Various ingredients – butter, cheese, figs, honey, molasses, olive oil, peas, salt – were added to the dough to make elaborate versions in various shapes for different occasions. This was a firm dough. Hydration would have been low and not high like modern doughs.

Ancient breads had a dense texture, a closed crumb compared with the open crumb of modern breads. They were not breads with big holes like the baquette and the ciabatta.

The fermentation method is still in existence today in the Trabzon region where sourdough bread has remained popular.

According to Ahmet Ünal, author of The Oldest Dishes of Anatolia / Culinary Culture in Hittite and Contemporary Societies, Anatolia has the oldest cuisine in the world after ancient Egypt, Sumer and Babylon.

Ever since the ancient cuniform texts were first translated, the opportunity to compare this ancient culinary culture with modern methods and devices has been grasped by creative bakers, cooks and chefs. With the re-emergence of einkorn wheat in Turkish farming it has become possible to test and re-define the ninda bread culture.

We offer here the original version with only the pre-ferment and a modern version with rye sourdough and yeast.

Pre-Ferment

  • 120 g whole einkorn wheat flour
  • 100 ml water, warmed
  • 30 g forest honey
  • 15 g pomegranate molasses

Whisk the water into the honey and molasses, add a third of the flour, stir. Cover, leave to ferment for 24 hours at room temperature. Add half of the remaining flour and leave for a further 24 hours. Add the last of the flour and leave for another 24 hours. The loose dough should have begun to ferment and emit a sour smell.

Un-Leavened

  • 500 g whole einkorn wheat flour
  • 250 g pre-ferment
  • 150 g water
  • 150 g honey

Mix honey and water into the flour with a wooden spoon. Mix into a slack dough, cover and leave overnight.

Add the pre-ferment to the mixture, leave to rise for two hours.

Cut dough into 100 g pieces, shape into balls, palce on a baking tray, leave to rise again.

Leavened

  • 500 g + 45 g whole einkorn wheat flour
  • 350 g spelt flour
  • 300 ml + 75 ml water, warmed to 38ºC
  • 250 g pre-ferment
  • 150 g honey
  • 40 g rye sourdough
  • 25 g yeast
  • 15 g bread improver

Mix the large amount of einkorn flour and the spelt flour with the large amount of water, autolyse for 60 minutes.

Warm remaining water in a saucepan with the honey, add to a bowl containing the yeast, whisk into a froth.

Combine honey-yeast liquid, bread improver and pre-ferment into the first mixture to form a slack dough. With wet hands knead into a smooth dough.

Leave to rise for two hours.

Dust a clean surface with two tablespoons of einkorn flour.

Cut dough into 8 equal pieces, around 140 g each. With floured hands shape into balls, rolling them in the flour. Place on a floured baking tray.

Leave to rise for two hours.

Glaze

  • 30 g honey
  • 15 ml hot water

Put the tray in a cold oven, bring heat to 230ºC. When the temperature reaches 230ºC, reduce to 180ºC and bake for 35 minutes.

Remove from oven, apply honey glaze.