A Celebration of Local, Fresh Ingredients Shared with Family and Friends
Harissa and Mint Flower Bread
I love our new home. For those not really in the know, Maine is a wonder to behold. Not only do we get the breathtaking rocky coastlines and densely wooded forests outdoorsy folks drive for miles to see but we also have the thriving hustle and bustle of the big city in Portland (which also happens to be one of the most innovative and exciting culinary destinations in the country!!). But as happy we are here, one down side to our move is having to socially start over. Enter: my Harissa and Mint Flower Bread.
Honest truth: I’m a bit of an introvert. It’s on of the reasons why I love cooking so much. It allows me to feel completely exposed and creative within the confines I establish. I wouldn’t say I’m overly shy or prefer to be alone. My introversion has layers- layers that can certainly be peeled away… over time. Whats funny is that I actually love to entertain guests! But I sometimes find it challenging to go outside my comfort zone to meet new people. But again, that’s why I love cooking so much. By cooking a dish or baking off a loaf of bread, I’m able to share apart of myself with new friends as I get to know them.
So, I’m living in a new state, with absolutely no social network…. what do I do? I bake bread. And what better “meeting new people” bread is there than a delicious tear and share bread. This Harissa and Mint Flower Bread has just enough kick to get any conversation going but is balanced by the slightly sweet and soft texture so it won’t steal the show. Feel free to purchase already made harissa from your local store if short on time. My version is a little less spicy (for those new friends not wanting too much of a fiery kick). It’s a must for any gather, with both old and new friends.
Harissa and Mint Flower Bread
This Harissa and Mint Flower Bread has just enough kick to get any conversation going but is balanced by the slightly sweet and soft texture so it won't steal the show. It's a must for any gather, with both old and new friends.
Place bell pepper in oven on boiler setting. Occasionally turn the bell pepper so that outside chars. Place charred pepper in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Cool until able to touch, then peel the charred skin from the pepper. Remove the seeds and place in a blender or food processor.
If using whole spices, place spices in a skillet and toast over medium heat until fragrant (about 1 minute). Place toasted spices in blender with pepper. If using ground spices, skip toasting step and place directly in blender.
Remove the stem and seeds from the dried chillies and place in a bowl. Pour boiling water over the peppers until fully submerged. Let the chilies soak for 30 minutes or until soft. Drain and place in the blender.
Add the remaining ingredients (expect the mint) into the blender and puree until smooth. Season with more salt if needed.
For the sponge, mix 100 grams of flour, 5 grams sugar, 5 grams yeast, and milk in a bowl, cover and leave on counter for 40 minutes.
Using a stand mixer with dough hook attachment, add the remaining ingredient. Add in the sponge and mix on low until the dough is smooth and elastic (30 minutes).
Cover and rest the dough for 60-90 minutes (60 on summer days and closer to 90+ during the winter).
Portion the dough into 3 equal balls. Roll one ball into a large circle. The size of the circle isn't as important. Just make sure it fits your biggest sheet pan. Place the circle of dough on a parchment lined sheet pan. Spread 3-4 tbsp of harissa on the circle, leaving a 1/8 inch border of dough uncovered. Sprinkle with half of the mint. Roll out the remaining balls of dough into similar sized circles. Place one on the harissa covered dough, spread that one with more harissa, sprinkle with remaining mint, then cover with the remaining dough circle.
To shape into a star: Place a small cup in the center of the dough. Starting from the cup and cutting all the way to the outer edge (the cup is there to keep you from cutting all the way through), cut equal quadrants. Cut each quadrant in half, and each of those pieces in half again. When you're finished, it should look like a flower with petals.
Take 2 petals that are side by side, twist each 3 times, then bring the ends towards each other and pinch together. Continue with the remaining petals.
Proof the flower bread on the counter for 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Cover the bread in an egg wash (whisk 1 whole egg). Bake for 30-35 minutes.