We went behind the scenes at Hot Bread Kitchen in Harlem and learned how to bake some mind-blowing bread. And you can make it at home, too. Not only does Hot Bread Kitchen (HBK for short) make delicious breads, but they're breads with a cause: HBK, founded by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez, trains immigrant and low-income women in baking, and empowers them to find employment in New York City’s top bakeries.
Watch for a special (easy!) technique and try your hand at making one of their most popular breads, Nan-E Barbari.
1⅔ to 1¾ cups water
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast or instant yeast
4 cups plus 3 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1½ teaspoons table salt
*Use the smaller amount of water in summer, or when it's humid; the larger amount during the winter, or in a dry climate.
2 teaspoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon vegetable oil
⅓ cup cool water
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon nigella (black onion) seeds*
*Substitute poppy seeds or the seeds of your choice if you can't find nigella seeds.
How to Make It
To make the dough: Mix the water, yeast, flour, and salt until well combined. Knead the mixture — using your hands, a stand mixer, or your bread machine set on the dough cycle — until you've made a smooth, fairly soft dough. The dough should barely clean the inside of the bowl, if you're using a stand mixer, perhaps sticking just a bit at the bottom.
Put the dough in a lightly greased large bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise until it's nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into two pieces. Shape each piece into a rough log abut 9" long. Tent the logs with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow them to rest for 30 minutes.
While the dough is resting, prepare the glaze. Combine the flour, sugar, oil, and water in a small saucepan, bring to a bare boil, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon; this should take less than a minute. Remove the glaze from the heat, and set it aside.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. If you have a pizza stone, set it on the lowest rack or oven floor.
Working with one piece at a time, gently deflate the dough, and pat/flatten it into a 14" x 5" rectangle. Use your fingers (or the handle of a long wooden spoon) to press five lengthwise grooves into the dough. Press firmly, but don't cut through the bottom of the dough.
Spread half the glaze onto the dough, rubbing it all over. Sprinkle with half the seeds.
Slide the bread onto the stone and bake it for 15 to 18 minutes, until it's golden brown. If you're not using a stone, place the bread on a baking sheet and bake it on your oven's middle rack. Remove the bread, and cool it on a rack.
While the first loaf is baking, prepare the second loaf. Bake as directed.
Serve warm, or at room temperature; traditional accompaniments are olives, cucumbers, and feta cheese.
Store leftovers, well wrapped, for several days at room temperature; freeze for longer storage.