Somun ekmek (literally translated as loaf of bread) refers to a popular soft and fluffy Turkish bread. There are a lot of types of bread in Turkey, some regional ones, some only available during the month of Ramadan. However, somum ekmek is the loaf of bread you will find in every kitchen any day of the week. Eating slices of somun ekmek is so common in Turkey that this loaf is what comes to my mind first when I hear/read ‘Turkish bread’.
POPULAR TURKISH LOAF
These loaves are extremely common and sold in every bakery (unlu mamüller) and convenience store (bakkal). Walking down the streets it’s impossible not to spot ekmek hanging in plastic bags on every corner. When I lived there you could still get a whole loaf for just 1₺ at any time of the day or night. It was so convenient and cheap, no wonder Turkey is one of the countries which consumes the most bread. Ekmek is a soft white bread that is perfect to dunk into soup (such as Turkish red lentil soup), to accompany a Turkish breakfast, or to make a Turkish toast (grilled cheese sandwich).
Ekmek is one of the easiest loaves of bread you can make at home, even if you’re a beginner baker. It’s a basic white bread that uses dry yeast as a leavening agent and that can be kneaded by hand. As long as the yeast has been properly activated (the top of the yeast mixture should be foamy/bubbly after 15 min) and the dough is kneaded enough (poke it with a finger, the indentation should spring back) you’ll be good to go! Steam is also important as it helps the loaf to rise n the first precious minutes of baking and gives the ekmek its typical glossy crust.
HOW TO STORE EKMEK
Homemade bread does get stale faster, especially if it’s a white bread without any added fat. To prevent the ekmek from going stale, store it at room temperature in an airtight bread box or in a linen bread bag. Whatever you do, do not put your beautiful fresh loaf in the fridge, it will dry up more quickly. But honestly, if you want to keep it as fresh as possible, freezing is the way to go. Slice up the ekmek, tightly wrap the slices you’re not planning on eating straight away in plastic wrap and place the wrapped slices in a freezer bag. You can keep the slices of ekmek in the freezer for up to 3 months. To thaw the ekmek, grab how many slices you want and let them thaw at room temperature on your kitchen counter, or use a toaster to speed things up!Print
Somun ekmek (literally translated as loaf of bread) refers to a popular soft and fluffy Turkish bread. It’s really easy to replicate at home and the perfect loaf to dunk into soup or make grilled cheese sandwiches with!
- 8g active dry yeast (2 tsp)
- pinch of sugar
- 300ml water (1 ¼ cup)
- 420g strong bread flour (3 cups)
- 8g fine sea salt (1 tsp)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- Activate the yeast. Slightly warm up 2 tbsp of the water, keeping in mind that the liquid shouldn’t be hotter than 42°C (108°F). Whisk in the yeast and sugar and keep whisking until the yeast has entirely dissolved. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the yeast sit for 15 min.
- Make the dough. Gently heat rest of the water until lukewarm. Again it shouldn’t be hotter than 42°C (108°F). Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt. Pour in the liquid and the yeast and use the fingers of one hand to mix the ingredients together. If you can’t gather in all the flour, add a little bit of water and mix again until just combined.
- Knead the dough. Tip the dough over a floured work surface. Knead the dough energetically for 10 min. Eventually, it will become less sticky and smoother. Sprinkle more flour over the work surface if the dough really gets stuck. Put the dough in a large lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Place the bowl in a warm spot. I like to heat the oven to 50°C (120°F) for a couple of minutes before turning the oven off and placing the bowl in there. Leave the dough to rise for 1h.
- Shape the ekmek. Fold the dough in on itself several times until all the air is knocked out of the dough. Heavily flour your work surface and place the dough on it. Flatten the dough into a rough rectangle, with one of the long sides facing you. Fold one of the long sides into the middle of the rectangle. Then fold the other long side on top of the other fold. Flip the loaf over so that it is seam-side down. Rock the loaf gently until it’s roughly 35cm-long (14 in), applying a little more pressure on the ends to form the oval shape. Delicately place the loaf on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Cover the loaf with a damp tea towel and leave it to prove for 15 min.
- Prepare the oven and score the loaf. Preheat the oven to 250°C (480°F) while the bread is proving. Place a small roasting tray on the bottom shelf of the oven. Boil 500ml (2 cups) of water using a kettle or a pan. Pour it into the roasting tray. When the bread has proved for 15 min, use a very sharp knife or razor blade to slash the top of the loaf lengthwise on the left or right side, cutting about 1,5cm deep (½ in) at a 30° angle. Spray a little bit of water all over the loaf.
- Bake. Place the baking tray in the oven on the middle shelf. Lower the temperature to 220°C (430°F)* and bake the ekmek for 30 min or until the crust is golden brown. To make sure the bread is done, hold it in a tea towel or using oven mitts and tap the bottom. If it sounds hollow then your ekmek is ready! Place it on a cooling rack and leave it to cool completely before slicing.
* 200°C (390°F) if you use a convection oven
- Serving Size: 1 slice
- Calories: 130
- Fat: 1.7g
Keywords: turkish bread, soft loaf, easy bread baking recipe