Koulouria Thessalonikis, delicious sesame bread rings whose origins date back to the Byzantine Empire, have always been associated with the cities of Constantinople and Thessaloniki. They are a delicious breakfast or snack item and one of Greece’s most popular street foods.
Early in the mornings, one can still find many “Kouloura” (Koulouri man) or vendors on street corners all over the country selling freshly baked crispy bread rings that tease our senses and make them irresistible to a lot of us!
Actually, my Greek husband told me that as a young child, Koulouria were enjoyed by most kids during their school breaks together with a piece of cheese; improving the nutritional value of an already a pretty healthy and delicious snack.
Nowadays, apart from street vendors, tiny shops selling only Koulouria seem to be popping up in many neighborhoods in Athens. These shops offer freshly baked traditional bread rings (a bit on the sweet side) from early morning to 4pm as well as many new versions of the bread rings that are filled with chocolate, nuts and raisins to mention a few . . . that are tasty but often very high in calories!
Since I love bread baking, I sometimes make a big batch of these bread rings at home and place them in the freezer to have handy whenever I feel like enjoying one! The advantage of making these at home is that you can control the size . . . making them smaller or thicker . . . and if you like, made with honey instead of sugar!
Recipe for Sesame Bread Rings!
14g (1/2 oz) fresh yeast or ½ tblsp dry yeast
2 ½ cup water
1/3 cup sugar or (4 tblsp honey)
¼ cup olive oil (or corn oil)
1 tblsp salt
1 kg (2.2 lbs) all-purpose flour (approximately)
Bowl of cold water
150g – 170g (about 5oz – 6oz) sesame seeds in a shallow plate
In a large bowl, mix the yeast with water with a fork. Add the sugar, olive oil, and mix. Add a bit of flour with the salt and mix. Keep adding flour until you have a firm and elastic dough. This can be done in a mixer with a pastry hook and depending on the flour you use, you may need a little more - but don’t overdo it!
Place dough on a lightly floured board and knead for about 10 minutes or slap with a sturdy wooden stick for a couple of minutes or until you have a smooth dough. Now, place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in warm place for about an hour or until dough has doubled in bulk.
Punch down dough and knead a little. Now, decide on the size of the rings and separate dough into the number of pieces you want to make and roll pieces into thin strips, about 5 pieces at a time.
Dip strips into cold water and roll in sesame seeds. Join the ends of the strips together making a circle and place on a greased baking sheet (or covered with baking paper). Let bread rings rise until double in size.
Bake in pre-heated oven at 200 ̊C (400 ̊F) for about 10 – 15 minutes or until bread rings are lightly brown and crisp to the touch. Please note that the baking time will vary a bit depending on the size and thickness of rings. If you like them really crispy they will need a bit more baking . . . whatever the size!
Cool a bit on baking racks but enjoy them while still warm!
Yield: About 30 rings.
These bread rings freeze well. When ready to enjoy, remove from freezer and place in a hot oven for a few minutes.
Serve with scrambled eggs, cheese and tomatoes or make a Greek
Strapasada (scrambled eggs with tomato and cheese) for a great breakfast! Recipe for Strapasada coming soon!
This recipe is also great for bread sticks. Instead of sesame seeds, you can use chopped fresh herbs, cumin, grated cheese or anything else you like!
©KaritasM – May 2019