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Ethiopian Honey Bread


A common theme that you hear from British beekeepers (myself included) almost every year is that this has been a funny year and hopefully next year will be better. This year is no exception. My bees managed to build up quite a lot of honey this July and I went on holiday happy in the knowledge that there would be a surplus this year, only to find that August was more like winter and my bees were stuck indoors, surviving on their winter stores and their surplus…I even received a note from DEFRA telling me that bees are starving all over the UK and that I might need to give them an emergency feed of sugar syrup…In the event, my bees did not need the extra feed and a couple of hives did manage to yield a little honey, but British honey is going to be in short supply this year…maybe it will be better next…

I love the flavour of honey and the more I learn about it, the more I realise there is to learn about this highly complex substance. I heard about an Ethiopian spiced honey bread and asked Vanessa to create a version suitable for home baking.

Yemarina Yewotet Dabo Bread

I have plaited this loaf, but you could also bake it in a boule for a simpler shaped loaf. This bread is deliciously aromatic and flavoursome. The combination of spices, sweetened by the honey needs a strong white flour, although you could also use 00 Soffiata flour for a more refined texture but I think the texture in Stoate’s stoneground white gives the dough a slightly more robust structure, which I feel compliments the flavours beautifully. I have used osmotolerant yeast which is for enriched dough such as this. Dabo is a celebratory bread, not an everyday bread. Dabo is actually a generic term for any kind of yeasted bread which is used for special occasions and is often exchanged as a gift between in-laws. You can make Dabo bread with onions, bananas or even chickpea flour.

Method

Mix the yeast and water and allow to stand for 15 minutes.

Beat the egg, honey, ground spices and salt together in a large bowl until smooth. Add the yeast mixture and stir.

Pour in the milk and melted butter, mix well then add the flour to form a smooth dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Pop the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean damp cloth and let rise on the side until it has about doubled in size, this should take about 90 minutes.

Once doubled, turn the dough out gently onto a lightly floured work surface, handle lightly so you don’t knock too much air out of your dough.

Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces, shape each into a 10–12 inch length. Take the three pieces and plait. Tuck the ends under and place on the base of the La Cloche that has been dusted with semolina.

Preheat oven to 180C.

Lightly brush the bread with a salt and water glaze, sprinkle over the fennel seeds and leave to prove for 10-15 minutes.

Once the bread has had its final prove, place the lid on the cloche and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove the lid and return to the oven for 15 minutes or until the bread is lightly golden and cooked through. Remove and cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Makes 1 1kg loaf

Ingredients:

12g Osmotolerant yeast 60ml of water, at 28C 1 free range egg, beaten 125g runny honey ½ tsp ground cardamom 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp ground allspice 10g salt 250g cup of milk, 28C 75 g melted butter 525g Stoate’s Stoneground strong white flour, plus extra for dusting Semolina, for dusting 1 tbsp salt mixed with 2 tbsp water, to glaze 1 tsp fennel seeds

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