I enjoy Ethiopian cuisine; the mix of spices differs from many other regions. I am familiar with injera, the yeasted flatbread that often accompanies the meal (I recently found teff at a local shop here in Wellington, so I may give injera a try!).
I was flipping through one of my bread books, Flatbreads & Flavors: A Baker’s Atlas, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, and noticed a recipe for a different type of Ethiopian bread: Ambasha.
There are many different regional variations of ambasha, made with different grains, and sometimes with yeast. This particular yeasted ambasha is spiced with cardamom, coriander seed, and fenugreek and made with wheat flour (almost 50% whole wheat).
I was quite happy with the result, especially considering it was made with almost 50% whole wheat flour.
The bread has a subtle spice aroma and flavour, complimented with a soft, even crumb.
Ambasha (Ethiopian Spice Bread)
Based on original recipe from Flatbreads & Flavours: A Baker’s Atlas, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. The original recipe measured the flour by volume rather than weight. I used the original volumes for the flour, as I completely forgot to weigh how much flour I used.
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2½ cups lukewarm water
3 cups hard unbleached white flour (bread flour)
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt or sea salt
Seeds from 1 green cardamom, dry roasted, finely ground
½ teaspoon fenugreek seed, dry roasted, finely ground
1 teaspoon coriander seed, dry roasted, finely ground
2 to 3 cups hard whole wheat flour
1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir in the white flour. Stir until well incorporated, about 1 minute, to develop the gluten.
2. Sprinkle on the salt and the spices. Gradually stir in the whole wheat flour until you can stir no longer. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured bread board and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
3. Clean out the bowl, oil lightly, and return the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until approximately doubled in volume.
4. Gently turn out the dough onto the bench (help the dough out of the bowl with a bowl scraper), divide into 6 equal portions, pre-shape dough into tight round balls, cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap, and allow to bench rest for 15 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 205°C/400°F
6. Re-shape the dough balls into tight, round balls, flatted gently with your palm to about 2 inches thickness, and place on one large or two small, lightly oiled baking sheets. Cover and allow dough to rise until almost double (about 30 minutes).
7. Just before baking, with a serrated knife, slash an X about 1/4 inch deep on the top of each small bread. Bake in the center of the oven for approximately 25 minutes. To test for doneness, tap the bottom of a loaf – it should sound hollow. Remove and cool on a rack before serving.