Hungarian Spiced Honey-Roasted Seed Bread

"Baraka" -- the name of David Seboek's and Leora Levy's Budapest restaurant -- is a Moroccan-Jewish word that roughly translates as "blessing." After a week of seeking out alternatives to traditional Hungarian fare, it is indeed a blessing to find Baraka.

Even as Budapest becomes an increasingly international city, much of its food culture remains heavily -- and I mean heavily-- stuck in the past.  Goulashes, sausages, pork knuckles, noodles continue to populate menus in practically every restaurant you enter. The first few times it's fun to experience -- who doesn't love a good and authentic paprikash -- but by Day Three you are begging your concierge to recommend something perhaps lighter ...?

Baraka is the new, and penultimate restaurant, of this well-known restauranteur couple. For many years they ran a popular cafe in the Andrassy hotel before moving to their current elegant spot in the Dorottya Palace in April 2015.,The Dorottya is a commanding 19th-century palazzo located just a stone's throw from the Danube and Chain Bridge on the Pest side. Leora oversaw the design of the restaurant's dramatic, modern interior. Here they planned to pursue their dream of serving truly sophisticated, international cuisine with Hungarian flair.

David, a baker from New York, met Leora, an Israeli, at a Passover seder she held for visiting Israeli friends at her flat. Both had come to Budapest for family reasons: David, to learn more about his father's Hungarian past; Leora, to join her brother, who was studying at the local medical school. She planned to pursue real estate.  Both eventually decided to make their lives in Hungary -- after they came together over what Leora describes as David's "love cake." It was in fact a banana-chocolate-kosher-for-passover cake he brought to her seder. Its sweetness worked: they now have three children, and Baraka, together.

Baraka's chef, Norberto Niro, has created an interesting menu featuring typical Hungarian ingredients such as goose liver (fois gras) and venison which he then transports to higher levels. The fois gras is done two ways: Fois gras bonbon with a vanilla-Tokaj (Hungarian wine) meringue, red beet and raspberry; or simply seared with poached pear, port and peanuts.  A roasted deer loin is served with figs, mascarpone, chestnut and chocolate.

David oversees the dessert side, offering confections including a Manjari chocolate mousse with praline, pear, and Kahlua. 

I was immediately taken, however, by the bread. It's rare a basket of fresh bread delivered at the beginning of the meal stands out as one of the meal's highlights -- especially at a restaurant of Baraka's caliber. Later when I spoke with David, he acknowledged that he makes all of the bread himself. 

It seemed thus fitting to share this recipe for Baraka's spectacular Hungarian bread with Fig Tree & Vine.

~ Danielle Frum

 

 

David's seeded bread, fresh out of the oven, in Baraka's kitchen. Photos by David Seboek.

By David Seboek 

Makes 4 medium-sized loaves.

For the roasted seeds:

¾ cup mixed pumpkin and sunflower seeds
1tsp sea salt
2 tsp ground coffee
1tsp ground cardamon
2 tsp za’taar (Middle Eastern spice mix)
1 tb honey
 
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
 
Mix all ingredients together well and spread out on a baking pan. Roast for 8 minutes, stirring once. Take out and let cool.
 
For the bread:
 
3 1/3 cups (800 g) white bread flour
¾ cup (200 g) whole wheat flour
5 tsp (30 g) sea salt
1 ½ tsp (10 g) fresh baker's compressed yeast
3 cups (700 ml) water
1tsp sugar
1tb black sesame seeds
1tb Madras curry powder
2 tb olive oil
3 tb honey
 
Dissolve yeast in ¾-cup (200 ml) lukewarm water with the sugar and allow to rise and become frothy.
 
In the meantime, mix together the flours with the salt and spices in a mixer or by hand.
 
When well mixed and the yeast is alive, add yeast to flour mix along with the remaining 2 ¼ cups (500ml) water, olive oil, and honey.
 
Mix dough until dough doesn't stick to the sides of the machine, about 10 minutes, or kneed by hand until the dough becomes elastic but not sticky. Add seeds and mix just until incorporated. Put dough in an oiled bowl large enough to let the dough rise.
 
Let dough rise in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. (Always cover dough with kitchen towel or plastic wrap.)
 
Take out dough, cut into 4 equal pieces, roll into a tight ball, and let rise till doubled.
 
Once doubled, take each piece and push down on the dough a bit, without letting too much air our. Roll into bread form of choice -- boule, baguette, rustic, etc. Let rise till the dough doesn't rise back when pushed down.


 David demonstrates how to form a baguette, clockwise from left. Bottom right, the baguettes, slashed, ready to go into the oven.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut slashes in dough to make nice pattern and to let dough rise better in the oven.Spray dough with water or brush with water.
 
Bake for 40-45 minutes. When you take the bread out of the oven it should be nicely browned. Carefully tap the bottom of the loaves -- they should not feel soft, and sound  hollow when tapped.

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