I first time I tasted this Turkish bread was on a visit to the Turkish city of Bodrum. Sometime later, and much to my delight, I discovered the same bread in a Turkish shop in North London, which I frequent on a regular basis. Recently, I have been experimenting in an attempt to recreate this very special bread and after many failed attempts I think I have finally cracked it. So, here I present my version of Poğaça for you to try.
½ cup warm water
½ cup warm milk
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 egg, white and yolk separated
½ tbsp dry fast-action dried yeast
1 tbsp malt extract, honey or sugar
1 tsp salt
450g plain flour
20g fresh dill leaves, finely chopped
250g spinach leaves
150g feta cheese, crumpled
Nigela seeds, for garnishing
In a large mixing bowl, mix the water, milk, olive oil, white egg, yeast and the malt with a wooden spoon.
Add the flour in gradually and mix with the wooden spoon until the dough begins to take a shape. Knead the mixture to a smooth dough either by using a mixer with the dough hook attached or by hand. You should end up with a smooth dough that is not sticky (the flour measurements are estimates, you might need to adjust slightly). At this point, add the chopped dill and knead until the dill is fully mixed with the dough.
Transfer the dough to a large bowl and cover with cling film. Leave the dough to rest in a warm place for an hour or until it expands to triple in size.
Meanwhile, place the spinach, a small pinch of salt, and 3 tablespoons of water in a saucepan, cover with a lid and cook on the lowest possible heat for 10 minutes or until the spinach has wilted. Give it a good stir and turn the heat off. Set aside to cool fully.
At this point, the dough should be tripled in size. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/ 400°F/ Gas 6 and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
Fully drain the water off the spinach and then chop on a chopping board. Add the chopped spinach and feta cheese to a bowl and mix fully. Set aside.
Divide the dough into 8 parts. Take one part and roughly flatten it into a circle (approximately 15cm diameter). Place one eighth of the feta and spinach mixer in a line from one side of the circle to the other side, leaving a 1cm margin each side of edges. Fold the circle to cover the filling, making sure the dough covers the filling and meets the other end.
Add a teaspoon of water to the yolk and stir to mix. Brush the surface of the bread rolls fully with the egg yolk. Sprinkle some nigella seeds on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the rolls puff up and the tops turns golden.