The Bread Baker

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On our last night in Tblisi, we paid a visit to the town’s oldest bakery.  Down a steep set of stone steps in the heart of Old Town, we found the craftsmen, busy taming wild yeasts into loaves of warm tandoori bread.  Is tandoori bread a “loaf?”  If not a loaf, then what is it?  Anyway, it smelled delicious!!

The dough is made in a large lump, and then broken off into smaller lumps which are kept uniform with the help of a scale:

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The baker forms the lumps into rounds, and sets them aside, ready for firing:

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Here they are resting.  I don’t know why, but “resting” always makes bread a little better.  When we do it with our pizza dough it becomes supple and soft, easily stretched to fit the pan.

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When it is time to bake, the rounds are smacked back and forth in the baker’s hands to form a sort of oblong shape, pointed on the ends like a boat.  The dough is then slapped into the inside walls of the tandoor oven, where it sticks.  The bread cooks in the heat, rising a little and getting slightly charred and crisp on the outside.  After it is cooked through, the loaf is peeled out of the oven with a hooked stick. 

Here they are cooling:

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Bread from the tandoor is something we almost take for granted living here.  There are 5 or 6 different shapes and styles, probably even more depending on which central asian country you visit.  It smells incredible, and all throughout the day you see people walking through the streets, carrying oblong “loaves” of bread wrapped in newspaper.  They are almost never wrapped in plastic, unless you are visiting a grocery store where ex-pats go.  The locals know better!  Usually there are women standing over the ovens.  Every time I see them, I think that someday I would like to do what they do.  Not yet; we have other fish to fry right now.  But maybe one day!  I hope so.

 

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