Balkan Bread, Soft and Chewy

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Balkan Bread, Soft and Chewy
  1. Mix milk and water in a pot over low heat. Heat, stirring constantly, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the pot reads 110 degrees F (43 degrees C). Remove from heat. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Pour mixture into a cup or other cylindrical glass; sprinkle yeast on top. Let mixture rest until yeast is frothy and fragrant, about 10 minutes.

  2. Stir flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Pour in yeast mixture and mix until a sticky dough forms.

  3. Turn dough out on a floured work surface and knead quickly for 5 minutes. Shape dough into a ball. Grease a large bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add dough; toss around the bowl a few times to coat evenly with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

  4. Return dough back to the work surface and punch down. Coat your hands with a little olive oil and knead again for 1 minute. Divide into 5 balls. Flatten the balls out into thick rectangles. Place the rectangles of dough onto a greased baking sheet. Brush the tops with a thin coat of olive oil. Let rest for 20 minutes.

  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) while the dough rests.

  6. Bake bread in the preheated oven for 12 minutes. Switch to the broil setting until the top of the rolls turn golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove from the baking sheet and allow to cool completely. Cut rolls in half lengthwise.

Cook’s Notes:

For an Italian taste, I add 1/8 cup of one or more of the following: rosemary, thyme, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, and sometimes cut-up Kalamata olives. I top the bread with thin onion slices, mozzarella, and/or Parmesan cheese.
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Or for a kick I add 1/8 cup of one or more of the following: jarred jalapeno slices or diced fresh jalapenos, shredded Cheddar cheese, garlic powder, and red onion. I top the bread with additional shredded Cheddar cheese and jalapeno.

For a flavor that mimics Red Lobster(R) Cheddar biscuits, I add 1/8 cup of one or more of the following: cayenne pepper, garlic powder, shredded Cheddar cheese, chopped green onion, and dried parsley. I top the bread with extra shredded Cheddar and parsley.

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