Rye Bread & Houmous

I call this Limestone Bread because of the wild rock-like formations of the dough. This dish makes a great breakfast, or indeed lunch or tea.

Preparation time: 90 minutes baking, then 10 minutes to prepare; serves 12.


*how on Earth they can import it so cheaply from that distant star, I'll never know - good stuff though: no wheat, gluten, yeast, egg or sugar.


Pre-heat the oven and spread a good layer of olive oil over a large flat oven tray, to make sure the bread doesn't stick to it. Measure a litre of warm water to have ready (once your hands are covered in dough, that's it). In a very large bowl, mix the flour, sea salt, caraway seeds and baking powder. Pour in 4 tablespoons of olive oil and mix into a consistent texture. Then (and here is where the 'experience' comes in handy) pour in some warm water while kneading the dough mixture; the difficulty is knowing when to stop. The amount of water seems to depend on many factors, so start with too little, say 700ml (1.25 pints), knead that in, and then add more water until the texture becomes sticky. If it is too firm, the bread will be too hard, so go as sticky as you dare. You can always add more water, but once there is too much it will get too sloppy; all is not lost though, as you can add a bit more flour (keep some spare for such emergencies) to balance the mix. If you're feeling experimental, you could even add sun-dried tomatoes or pitted black olives to the dough.

Once you have given the dough a good workout, divide it into three round balls, and shape into round loaves about 15cm in diameter. Place these on the pre-oiled baking sheet so that they are touching, and slice each into four quarters, cutting so that the knife goes right through but not separating the segments. This creates more surface area to aid the baking process and yields loaves that can be easily broken into handy sized individual portions. Leave to bake for 45 minutes or so, depending on your oven. My landlady's Aga was great for making bread, but gas or electric ovens may vary. Check to see if it is cooked - if not, put it back for longer. Once you're satisfied, take it out of the oven and leave it to stand for a good 10 minutes, while you prepare a hearty houmous salad...

Houmous can be made quite easily, but I usually buy it for convenience, since I don't have a whole family to feed. Be sure to check the label though; some 'traditional' houmous includes sugar and other nasty additives (even 'spices' can contain sugar), so beware. Curiously, most supermarkets' own brands are pretty good and just stick to the essential ingredients: chick peas, olive oli, garlic, sesame seed paste (tahini), lemon juice, salt.

To serve, slice and toast the bread. This reduces the moisture (this stuff is DENSE) and gives a better, carboniferous taste. It is easiest to keep the slices thick to discourage disintegration. Pour a dash of olive oil on each slice, then spread lavishly with houmous. Sprinkle with caraway and poppy seeds (hemp seeds too if you like), before adding sliced tomato and cucumber. Garnish with fresh basil leaves, and finally wrap each slice in a lettuce leaf, the larger the better; iceberg or romaine lettuce work best. This is quite important, as this sandwich can be quite messy to eat, and the lettuce keeps it all together, saving you from houmous and tomato stains. (Not recommended for young children!) In many cultures, rice dishes are similarly wrapped in lettuce or vine leaves. Serve with a raw carrot and stick of celery for dipping extra houmous, and olives.

The bread should be kept in an earthenware pot (not a fridge or cupboard), and eaten within 4 days. Alternatively, it can be frozen to keep for a later time. If you don't have easy access to an oven, or much time, Sunnyvale and Rossisky are good rye breads with no yeast, wheat or sugar.

Copyright ©2002 Malcolm Smith. These recipes are free software; you can redistribute them and/or modify them under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version. DISCLAIMER: All these recipes are distributed in the hope that they will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.