Every Greek meal is accompanied by some sort of bread, and with great reason! Some breads use olives, while others are traditionally served with cheese, vegetables, or soups. Many Greek dishes include olive oil, sauces, or spices that are too delicious to let go to waste, and Greek breads are perfect for dipping or soaking these up. Though, Greek bread by itself is one of the most delicious items at any table. The Greeks prefer thick, crusty bread to the lighter, sliced varieties you find in other parts of the world, and it is always served warm and fresh. Though some lighter breads such as pita are available for wraps, as side dishes, or for use in some recipes, it is still thick with a hearty crust and crispy, crunchy texture.
“Psomi” (greek: ψωμί) is the word for the classic, traditional type of bread found throughout Greece, dating back perhaps thousands of years. Historically, when homes did not have their own ovens capable of baking bread, women would take their dough to the town baker to use his oven to get this essential item fresh for their families daily. In Greece the local baker became a central point in every village, sometimes acting as a communal kitchen. That had as a result the Greeks having very intimate, personal, and involved relationships with their favorite bakers and bakeries because of this foods’ importance to theGreek diet.
Some types of psomi are specialized for certain holidays, such as Easter or Christmas. Easter bread is called Tsoureki or Pascha and is slightly sweeter. 3 ropes are braided together and served with a boiled egg. Greek Christmas bread is known as Christopsomo and is light, buttery, and also sweet. It includes cinnamon, orange, and cloves, and is always only made from the freshest of ingredients. Often, it is topped with golden walnuts, or in some places with sesame seeds or dried fruit.
Regardless of the time of year, these delicious breads can be served at any meal and many recipes are available online if you are interested in baking some for yourself at home and enjoying these Greek additions to any meal.
Pita is a thin, essential type of Greek bread that is used in many recipes and dishes for meals at any time of the day. Pita is very often grilled after being brushed with olive oil, salt, or spices. It is frequently a base for dishes, sandwiches, wrapped around souvlaki, and as a side or ingredient for Greek salads – similar to the way other countries might use croutons or dried bread. Dried pita crisps are often kept to eat as a side dish or snack, and are seasoned with salts and spices such garlic, oregano, cumin, or with sweeteners such as honey or cinnamon and sugar.
Bake your own Greek bread
If you’re an experienced baker who is looking to try something new and add some variety to the breads you already make at home, you might consider trying to make your own psomi or pita bread at home.
For psomi you will need yeast, semolina, white bread flour, bread improver, salt, water, olive oil, honey, milk, and sugar. Surfing online I found several recipes how to make your own bread and the following is one of them you can try.
- Sift the flour and add the other ingredients. Mix into a soft dough.
- Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth.
- In a lightly oiled bowl cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise.
- Knead again on a floured surface, shape into a loaf, cut slits in the top, and leave to rise again on an oiled baking sheet.
- Bake at 220 Celcius (425 Fahrenheit) for approximately 30 minutes until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
For pita bread you will need yeast, salt, sugar, all-purpose flour, water, and olive oil. Check out the following.
- Combine yeast and sugar with warm water and let stand for 10 minutes. Then dissolve in salt.
- Mix the yeast mixture into the flour, adding water as needed. Knead until smooth.
- Pour oil over the dough and knead until well mixed.
- Place dough in a bowl and cover with a towel. Leave to rise then punch down and knead again.
- Cut dough, shape, and flatten to a ¼ inch thickness. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 2-3 minutes each side.
- Store in a plastic bag to prevent drying, and reheat with oil in a shallow skillet before serving. Use immediately or once dried out as delicious pita chips.
Whatever type of Greek bread you prefer, you will enjoy this as an addition to any meal. With some experimentation and playing around in your own kitchen with your favorite recipes you’ll find a way to incorporate delicious Greek breads into your own life.