Mediterranean kefir buns

Once while on holiday in Cyprus in 1999, just before lunch, we found some freshly baked bread rolls, being sold by the till in a busy small grocery shop. They were studded with coriander and olives, and absolutely out of this world. As I love the Mediterranean diet I have tried to reproduce them and here is a recipe to tempt you with. It is not at all complicated, all it is is a kefir dough started the day before which is then stuffed with coriander, olives and...garlic, of course! As in the kefir naan type bread it works equally well with kefir made either with the sieve or the bag method.


Oven at 220C, 425 F, gas mark 7.

The day before add enough kefir to your flour in order to make a nice kneading bread dough, add the salt. Knead until the dough is elastic and smooth. Place in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave overnight in a warm place. I leave mine in the airing cupboard. Next day, when the dough is well risen and before it collapses, knock it down and stretch over a floured working surface. Put the coriander, olives and garlic on the top and with your hands incorporate them into the dough. A bit messy but don't let it worry you. Divide into 8 buns. Any bits sticking out can be pushed back into the dough, so that they don't get burned in the oven. Place on a well oiled tray dusted with maize meal, cover with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for about half an hour or until risen. Before baking, gently brush the tops with the melted fat of your choice, just to give them an extra touch of luxury. Bake for about 5 to 8 minutes or until they have coloured a bit. Serve at once or keep wrapped in a cloth until needed.

These herby buns don't keep that well. However you can revive them, by sprinkling with water and placing them in a hot oven or grill, just for a few minutes.

Of course if you want to bake these in one day then add 7 g (one sachet) of easy blend yeast to the dough and you will have them in about 3 hours, but may be they will not taste so nice. Also depending on what is in season you can add different herby mixtures. For a French flavour try parsley, tarragon and thyme!

Maria Fremlin, Colchester, U.K., 26 February 2001

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