Monday, December 5, 2011

H’mbasha (Festive Cardamom Bread)

Yield: 1 large loaf
This slightly sweet bread is my favorite. Normally it is made on special occasions and is served with tea or coffee. I use in as a change from injera.

1 packet active dry yeast
3 ½ cups warm water (110°F)
¼ cup oil
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
7 ½ cups flour
¼ cup raisins
½ teaspoon cardamom seeds (from 16 pods)

1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the oil, sugar, and salt.
2. Add 2 cups of the flour and stir. Sprinkle the batter with the raisins and mix them in.
3. Sprinkle the batter with the cardamom seeds and mix them n.
4. Add the remaining 5 ½ cups of flour, 2 cup at a time, and mix it in. In the later stages you may find it easier to use your hands to incorporate the flour.
5. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it until it is springy and elastic. This will take about 10 minutes.
6. Put the dough in a covered bowl and place it in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.
7. Give the dough a sharp smack and knead it briefly to remove any large air bubbles. Return it to the covered bowl and let it rise for 1 hour more.
8. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a pizza pan.
9. Give the dough a sharp smack and form it into a large, flat circle on the pizza pan.
10. Decorate the dough in a traditional way by slashing it with a serrated-edged knife. Slash lines about ¼ inch deep, radiating from a central point to the outside edge of the dough. Let rise for 30 minutes.
11. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
12. Remove the bread from the oven and cool it on a rack.

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