Traditional Breads in Turkish Cuisine (cont.)
Meaning “loaf,” somun is made everywhere and familiar to everyone. It is long with small ends and larger in the middle. The raised dough is rolled out into pieces 2-3 cm thick. In some areas, boiled mashed potatoes are added to the dough. It is cooked at home and in neighborhood bakeries (1, 7).
The baked bread is 5-6 cm thick and 15-20 cm in length. Its color is variable according to the flour used. That made at home is generally made with whole wheat flour, so it is dark in color. Somun is usually made to be used in 2-3 days. The fırın ekmeği cooked in cities including Antalya, Burdur, Isparta and Mersin is a type of somun bread (12).
In Suşehri, somun bread is known as fırın ekmeği (“oven bread”) or muhacir ekmeği(“immigrant bread”). It was stated that the immigrants (from the Balkans) to the region also added potato water or whey to the dough to give it a pleasing flavor and color (13).
The small version of somun bread is called göbüt (1). In the Sivas region, small somuns are known as somuncuk (dimimutive of somun) (15).
The tandır can be defined as a type of oven built by digging a hole in the ground. Tandır bread is made in the type of tandır called gömme tandır (“buried tandır”). It is made of clay with a wide bottom, narrowing towards the mouth at the top, like a large clay vase. It is buried in the garden or yards of houses. There is a hole at the bottom with a chimney leading to the surface, called a kulle. (1, 2, 16).
A fire is lit on the floor of the tandır, which heats its walls. If the dough adheres to the walls of the tandır without falling off, the tandır is said to be tavında, or “tempered, at its prime.” Breads baked in the tanır include lavaş, çörek and others. (7).
In some areas another type of tandır is used, which is above ground, built like a stove out of large stones, its inner and outer surfaces covered with mud. On such tandırs, the breads are baked on a sac placed over its hole (16, 20). They are generally used to make yufka, bazlama, çörek etc.
For tandır bread, the raised dough is rolled into rounds 2-3 cm thick, sometimes with a hole in the center. In some areas it is rolled to 2-3 mm like yufka (19). The side of the dough which will contact the tandır is moistened and stuck to the hot wall (7, 16, 21). The baked bread is removed with a tool called the eğiş. The finished bread is 4-5 cm thick and 15-20 cm wide, either a circle or a ring. The yufka type is 2-3 mm thick (7).
Tandır bread is made in the regions of Erzurum, Erzincan, Elazığ, Diyarbakır, Ağrı, Kayseri, Hatay, Eskişehir, Mardin, Malatya, Sivas, Siirt, Yozgat, Urfa (7) and Konya (21). In the Niğde region it is known as tandır çöreği (16).
Taşlı Fırın Ekmeği - Pebble-Baked Bread
This is made from a standard leavened dough which is left to rise twice and then flattened out by hand. The real difference is in its baking.
The oven is lit and the floor is covered with pebbles, which become heated as well. The ready loaves are baked directly on the pebbles. When it is done, it is removed with the pebbles, which are then removed from the bread.
The finished bread is round, 3 cm thick and 12-15 cm wide. This type of bread is made in the area of Darende, Malatya province (7).
Tepsi Ekmeği - Pan Bread
The raised dough is oven-baked in oiled broad trays or square pans. This bread is made by the descendants of Balkan immigrants living in the Niğde region (16).
In the Aegean region, tepsi bread is known as “oven bread” or “home bread.” The homemade yeasted dough is put into pans or trays and either baked at home or taken to a commercial bakery. In Aydın, a started made from chickpeas is reportedly used (9).
Literally meaning “round,” this bread is made from a leavened dough which is shaped into 10 x 20 cm ovals, arranged in a pan and sprinkled with sesame and poppy seed. It is taken to a commercial oven in the evening and cooks in a warm oven until dawn. It is then strung on a string with a packing needle. It is moistened when it is to be eaten. Yuvarlak is made in Isparta (12).
Unleavened breads are made with various flours with the addition of water and salt, and either shaped with the hands or rolled out with a long thin rolling pin called an oklava (7, 8).
Baked on a sac. In some areas, it is made a bit thicker and smaller than yufka (1, 22)
The tablama made in Adıyaman, Trabzon and Malatya is a type of bazlama. In Zonguldak and Çankırı, unleavened bazlama is known as göbü, in Izmir as bezdirme, and in Manisa aspezdirme (9). It is reported that in Antalya, a millet flour bazlama is made (12).
This is a type of bread that must be eaten fresh, made smaller and thicker than yufka and cooked on a sac. If made with whole wheat flour, it is more flavorful and nutritious. It is made in the Sivas and Elazığ regions (1, 15).
This is made from either wheat or corn flour and cooked either on a sac or in a tandır. It is known in the regions of Samsun, Sivas, Amasya and Tokat (1).
Made like yufka bread from an unleavened dough, it is baked on a sac. This bread is made in the regions of Bursa, Bolu and Eskişehir (1).
Kömeç (Kömme, Kömbe)
In Trabzon and Zonguldak, unleavened bread cooked in coals is called kömeç (1). In the Zonguldak region, it is reportedly made without salt (23).
In Balıkesir there is a type of bread known as kömme. This is a type of bread which is buried in the embers of a dying fire to bake. It can be both leavened and unleavened (24).
Kömme-Gömbe has been described as “a type of ember-baked pide made in many parts of Anatolia, either leavened or unleavened, and with or without oil.” In the area around Sinop, kömbe, kete and bazlama are called sac ketesi (1).
In Sivas, kömbe refers to a very oily bread made with no leavening. The dough is spread in a baking pan and designs are made with the fingers or with a spoon. It is cooked by covering with a sac onto which coals are heaped (15).
Corn breads are generally made in the Black Sea region, from a dough made of corn meal, flour and water. They are usually unleavened. In some areas, such as Sinop-Türkeli, Trabzon-Arsin and Kastamonu-İnebolu, they are leavened. Some versions are brushed with beaten egg.
Corn breads can be baked both on a sac or in a baking pan in the oven. Those baked in the oven must be 2-3 cm thick. Those baked on the sac are circular, 1-1.5 cm thick and 15-20 cm wide. Those baked in a greased pan or frying pan are baked in a normal oven or a kuzine – a wood heating stove with a wide top for cooking as well as an oven compartment.
Corn bread takes the shape of the pan in which it is cooked, and is naturally yellow in color. As it goes stale very quickly, it is made fresh each day (7).
In Ordu, corn bread is called “toraman” (1).
In Sinop, corn bread is made in a variety of ways. One way is to add the corn meal and to boiling water and stir, then pour this batter into a 3-4 cm deep pan and cook in a hot oven till browned (25).
In the Artvin region, an unleavened corn bread called cadi is baked in a stone pan which is set in clay, called a bileki (7).
This bread resembles yufka; it is rolled out the same way, has no oil and is baked on a sac. It is made when there are meat and simmered dishes, and eaten rolled around egg and onions. There is also a dish called bandırma which is made from ter ekmeği. For this dish, ter ekmeği is cut into square pieces. These are topped with chopped walnuts, the edges are closed, they are arranged in a pan and baked with turkey broth (7).
Commonly made throughout Anatolia, yufka is one of the most important breads of Turkish cuisine. In the Türkmen language, the word yufka means anything thin (1). In Tekirdağ-Malkara, it is known as şebit-sepit-şipit; in Tokat-Artova it is called işkefe, and in the Tokat, Eskişehir and Ankara regions, gardalaç. It may be made with wheat flour or corn meal (Bolu, Kastamonu, Sivas) (1). In Denizli, the word şipit refers to a thicker type of yufka.
To make yufka, unleavened dough is divided into pieces, which are rolled with an oklava to 1-2 mm thick and 50-100 cm wide, and baked on a hot sac.
The cooked yufka are 50-100 cm in diameter and 1mm thick, and can be various colors according to the grade of flour.
In Ankara and Kırıkkale, various ingredients are mixed with the dough including citric acid, ayran, milk or sour plum leather. It is reported that in Kırklareli egg is added to the dough (7). In Denizli there is a version with poppy seeds kneaded into the dough (9).
Yufka has one of the longest shelf lives of any bread, and can be stored for up to six months. If it is intended for long storage, it must be dried on the sac (7).
In the Niğde region, the making of yufka is an important part of preparation for winter. Families hold work parties (imece) with their neighbors to make bread to last six to nine months. In the area, such bread is known as kış ekmeği, or “winter bread.” These must be moistened before eating (16, 20). If it is for immediate consumption, it is made in smaller amounts. Yufka is commonly made throughout Anatolia (1, 7, 9, 12, 15, 18, 26).
Yufka can be made into rolls/wraps, filled with such things as cheese, ground meat, sucuk, pastırma, eggs, bean salad, noodles, pilaf, walnuts and raisins. These are variously known asdurum, dürümeç, sıkma or sıkmaç (16).
In İçel, a type of yufka made from corn and millet flour is known as tapıl (1).
Conclusions and Recommendations
The various grains raised on the fertile soils of Anatolia, and wheat in particular, form the main ingredient for bread, the main staple for the people here. Turkish women produce many different types of delicious bread, which contribute to the richness of Turkish cuisine.
It has been observed that in nearly every region both leavened and unleavened breads are made, baked mostly in an oven, on a sac or in a tandır. In addition to bread, are other important baked goods such as çöreks.
It is difficult to find the flavorful breads that were once baked. They can be found in the villages but in the cities there are very few people left who make their own bread.
Especially in the cities, restaurateurs could make an important contribution towards keeping this Turkish culinary tradition alive. They could make local breads to meet their own needs in their own tandırs, ovens and sac. Commercial bakeries could also devote some of their baking to traditional breads. In addition, more attention should be given to home bread baking, and to this end factories should produce flours that will give a good result when used at home and put this on the market. Formal culinary institutions could also teach their students to make traditional breads.
Comprehensive research should also be done on the traditional types of bread which I have collected in this article.
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* Gazi University, Faculty of Vocational Education.
* * Selçuk University, Faculty of Vocational Education.