Winter and cold weather keeps me wanting to escape anywhere where is warmer and sunnier. However, chances to escape to warmer climates for me at this time are slim, so the only thing left is evoking the sunny summer days.
When, evoking summer time my thoughts go to Turkey and our summer vacations spent there almost every year. Vacations for me there mean sun, sea and terrific food; bread, baking goods and various types of cheese (there are about 500 types of feta cheese) being at the top in the list, so yesterday I had a craving for a turkish Açma (pronounced “Achmah”) which is similar to a bagel but differs in texture and the way how it is prepared.
While bagels are bathed in boiling water before being baked, the Açmas are softer in texture and no such bathing is involved in the making process.
Acma is the second most popular pastry in Turkey, after Simit being the first; and these two pastries can be found fresh anytime of day at each bakery, markets and at the streets where street vendors with their small little carts cary always freshly baked, warm Açmas and Simits.
Paired with black tea and goat cheese Acmas make one of a kind breakfast or lunch. I made them yesterday, so I will share the recipe and my version of preparation:
2 eggs – yolks and whites separated
5 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (250 gr) butter or margarine – melted
2 cups of warm water
5 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry yeast or a small 1 inch cube of fresh yeast
200 gr fetta cheese – optional
1 tablespoon balkan style yogurt
black sesame seeds (Nigella seeds) – optional
In a mixing bowl combine egg whites, sugar, salt and stir thoroughly so the sugar is coated with egg whites. Add melted butter or margarine and continue stirring. Add warm water and proceed with adding the flour and instant yeast.
Note: If using fresh yeast, dissolve it first in a lukewarm water and then mix it together with the liquid ingredients.
Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let it sit for an hour at a warm spot.
Sprinkle generously the working surface with flour and transfer the dough from the bowl. Fold in the dough gently to form a big ball.
Flatten the dough ball with a rolling pin to form a rectangle about 20X15 inch (50×38 cm) in size.
Sprinkle the flattened dough with feta cheese crumbs.
Place the half of the rectangle on the top of the other half to make a sandwich like shape, and proceed with cutting one inch (2.5 cm) thick vertical stripes using a pizza cutter.
Swirl each stripe and close their ends forming a circle. Place them in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Beat the egg yolks and yogurt together and brush the tops generously. Sprinkle them with black sesame seeds (optional), and bake them in the preheated oven in 400 F (220 C) for about 25 minutes or until the tops get golden brown.
Afiyet Olsun ( “Enjoy” – in Turkish)
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