The following Greek everyday bread, also found in Cyprus and Turkey, is a large, soft loaf including both toasted sesame seeds and traditionally, nigella seeds, inside the bread and decorating the crust. Nigella seeds have a very distinctive flavor; some describe it as peppery, others as similar to that of caraway seeds.
The loaf is either deeply slashed before baking, or formed by placing balls of dough next to each other on the pan. The result? Easy to pull apart "fingers" of dough, making this a great "pass-around" loaf.
To make the sponge: Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Mix the whole wheat flour, cornmeal, yeast and water in a bowl.
Let the mixture sit for 1 hour, or until it's foamy and full of bubbles.
To make the dough: Mix the remaining ingredients into the sponge and knead — by hand, mixer, food processor or bread machine — to form a soft, supple dough, adding a small amount of extra water or flour as needed.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, and cover it with a proof cover or plastic wrap. Allow it to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until it's almost doubled in size.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured or greased work surface. Divide the dough into 8 pieces.
Round each piece into a ball, then shape each into an oval about 4" in length.
Select a sheet pan that's about 18" x 13" in size, and grease it lightly, or line it with parchment.
Place the ovals of dough side by side (long sides almost touching each other) on the sheet, leaving about 1" between each; they'll fill the pan end to end.
Cover the pan and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until it's expanded enough so that the ovals are touching each other. (At this point, the whole thing may remind you of a caterpillar.)
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Brush the top of the dough very lightly with water (or spray it gently), and sprinkle with a mixture of toasted sesame seeds and nigella seeds.
Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, until it's golden brown.
Store, well-wrapped, for 3 days at room temperature, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Tips from our Bakers
Nigella seeds (known as kalongi in India, where they're widely used) are also called black caraway, onion seed, or charnushka. The amount called for in the recipe seems small, but actually results in a fairly strong taste. If you've never tasted nigella seeds you may want to try a loaf with just 1 1/2 teaspoons before upping the amount to the full tablespoon. They're available in ethnic markets.