BRÖTCHEN | Ninda Purpura / Küçük Ballı Ekmekler TURKEY MESOPOTAMIA Hittite, Babylon and Sumer honey breads

The bread called ninda in ancient Anatolian, Sumerian and Babylonian societies started with a pre-ferment that combined flour ground from einkorn wheat, honey and molasses. After a couple of days this pre-ferment was added to flour, honey and water, then rested overnight before baking early the following morning.

Various ingredients – butter, cheese, figs, honey, molasses, olive oil, peas, salt – were added to the dough to make elaborate versions in various shapes for different occasions. This was a firm dough. Hydration would have been low and not high like modern doughs.

Ancient breads had a dense texture, a closed crumb compared with the open crumb of modern breads. They were not breads with big holes like the baquette and the ciabatta.

The fermentation method is still in existence today in the Trabzon region where sourdough bread has remained popular.

According to Ahmet Ünal, author of The Oldest Dishes of Anatolia / Culinary Culture in Hittite and Contemporary Societies, Anatolia has the oldest cuisine in the world after ancient Egypt, Sumer and Babylon.

Ever since the ancient cuniform texts were first translated, the opportunity to compare this ancient culinary culture with modern methods and devices has been grasped by creative bakers, cooks and chefs. With the re-emergence of einkorn wheat in Turkish farming it has become possible to test and re-define the ninda bread culture.

  • 120 g whole einkorn wheat flour
  • 100 ml water, warmed
  • 30 g forest honey
  • 15 g pomegranate molasses

Whisk the water into the honey and molasses, add a third of the flour, stir. Cover, leave to ferment for 24 hours at room temperature. Add half of the remaining flour and leave for a further 24 hours. Add the last of the flour and leave for another 24 hours. The loose dough should have begun to ferment and emit a sour smell.

  • 500 g whole einkorn wheat flour
  • 250 g pre-ferment
  • 150 g water
  • 150 g honey

Work honey, pre-ferment and 75 ml of the water into the flour, then 25 ml at a time until the water is used up, knead into a slack dough, cover and leave overnight.

  • 30 g honey
  • 15 ml hot water

Cut dough into 100 g pieces, shape into balls, leave to rise again. Place in a cold oven, bring heat to 230ºC. When the temperature reaches 230ºC, reduce to 180ºC and bake for 30 minutes. Take out of the oven and apply honey glaze.