Yewollo Ambasha

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Say the name out loud. Doesn’t it make you feel like you’re in Ethiopia?!! I love the name of this bread. But tasting it is an even more delicious experience.

This bread is an Ethiopian celebratory bread that pairs so well with the meaty and spicy stews that are typical of Ethiopian cuisine. I just wish you all could smell it bread baking, and then taste it warm. You can really taste the coriander, but you get all the layers of flavor as well from the infused butter and additional spices.

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Only basic skills of bread baking are required for this bread.

Here is the recipe from the Time Life Series Foods of the World Series – African Cooking:

Yewollo Ambasha
Spice Bread

To make one 12-inch round loaf

1 pkg. plus 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
10 tablespoons niter kebbeh, melted
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon berberé

In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over 1/2 cup of the warm water. Let the mixture stand for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir it to dissolve the yeast. Set the bowl in a warm, draft-free place for about 5 minutes. The mixture should have doubled in volume.

Add the remaining water, 8 tablespoons of the niter kebbeh, the coriander, cardamom, fenugreek, white pepper and salt, and stir with a whisk until the ingredients are well blended.

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Stir in the flour 1/2 cup at a time, until you can’t stir any more.

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At that point, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface.

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Knead the dough by folding it end to end, then pressing it down and pushing it forward several times with the heel of your hand. Sprinkle the dough with a little extra flour if it sticks to the board or your fingers. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth but still soft.

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Tear off a small piece of dough, roll it into a ball about 1/2 inch in diameter and set aside. Place the remaining dough on a large ungreased baking sheet. Pat and shape it into a flattened round about 10 inches in diameter and no more than 1 inch thick.

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To decorate the loaf in the traditional manner, make the impression of a cross on top of the loaf by cutting down 1/2 inch with a long, sharp knife into the dough, “dividing” it into equal quarters. Do not slice the dough; use just one firm stroke for each cut. I did not cut deeply enough into the dough.

Than with the point of the knife,cut 1/2 inch wide slits about 1/2 inch deep and 1/2 inch apart crosswise along both cuts of the cross so that the cross looks like the map symbol of railroad tracks. Holding the tip of the blade steady at the center of the cross, which is nearly impossible for which, which is why I don’t decorate cakes, make shallow cuts at 1/4 inch intervals all around the loaf to create a sunburst design on the top. Flatten the small ball of reserved dough and press it firmly into the center of the loaf.

Set the loaf aside in the warm place for an hour, or until it doubles in bulk. This is when I realized I had not cut deeply enough into the dough. At least that doesn’t affect the taste!

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread in the middle of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, until it is crusty and a delicate golden brown. Slide the loaf onto a wire cake rack.

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While the bread is still warm, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of the niter kebbeh with the berberé and brush the mixture evenly over the top.

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This bread may be served while it is still warm or may be allowed to cool completely. It is really good with sik sik wat and doro wat, coming soon!

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