Bread is a sanctuary for Romanians. Like in many Mediterranean countries, bread is a must and served with nearly all dishes, especially in the countryside. Unfortunately, the quality of the majority of today’s bread cannot be compared to former times. The cheap 1 Lei bread you find in nearly all magazines is made of low quality flour and full of chemical baking and preservative agents.
The generation above 40 years still remembers the times when you had to wait in a row for hours to get some bread. Hopefully this experience will never repeat, but at least the compensation was adequate. “Paine rotunda”, “Franzela”, “Japoneza”: There were many different forms of very tasty bread produced by large state bakeries in Bucharest with nice names like i.e. “Cuptorul de aur” (golden oven).
Each Romanian region has its own bread tradition. Some Transylvanian regions are famous for their “Paine cu cartofi” (Potato bread), which could weight several kilos, but it remained fresh and eatable for nearly 5 days. The “Pita de Pecica”, a regional bread from Arad was transported by plane daily to the capital and arrived on the table of former dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, who was a fan of its taste.
Each small village had its stone mill where people brought their small grain production to get their own flour. Have a look at the traditional farmer markets in Bucharest, where you can still buy flour from the countryside.
Today, I will prepare a simple country bread stuffed with meat and vegetables. You do not necessary stick 100% to the recipe. Be creative and use the vegetables and meat you prefer. But use meat from free-grown animals and fresh vegetables from the garden or from traditional farmer markets.
500g stone mill flour (to be found in Romanian traditional markets or alternatively normal white bread flour (650 flour)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp active yeast
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
250 to 300ml water
Vegetable oil (for oiling)
3 tbsp milk (for brushing)
1 piece of celery
1 chicken breast
1 clove of garlic
Ginger and spices
How to prepare
- Heat a large frying pan over medium to high heat and add the spices, ginger, fine sliced onion and garlic.
- Add the chicken and fry until golden brown.
- Put all on a plate and set aside.Heat again the pan with 2 tbsp of olive oil and add your sliced vegetables.
- Fry your veggies half way (crunchy), add to the pan the spices and the chicken. Mix all together, set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Dust a large baking sheet with flour.
- Put the flour, salt, sugar, oil and yeast in a large bowl and mix all together. Make a large hole in the center of the flour, add the water, just enough to make a dough that is loose and easy to knead.
- Work your dough for 10 minutes by hand or for 5 minutes in an electric mixer.
- Shape the dough into a ball. Cut it into 4 and shape 4 balls. Use a rolling pin and roll each ball into a round shape.
- Put the mix of vegetables and chicken in the middle of each dough, brush the edges with a beaten egg and fold in half, pinch the borders to seal.
- Cover the dough with oiled plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled his size.
- Remove the plastic wrap, then brush the dough with milk and place in the oven.
- Put some ice cubes in a bowl at the bottom of the oven. This makes the bread continue to rise and forms a nice crust at the end.
- Bake the bread pie until golden brown.
- You can serve it together with a garden salad or roasted potatoes.
Enjoy your meal, pofta buna!
By Juranda Kirschner, Guest writer
Photo credits: Terra Carpatica