On the Chocolate Trail

Ambasha (aka Himbasha, Hambasha) Ethiopian Wedding Bread

This stylish Ethiopian celebratory flatbread derives its unique elements from the hand styled design and sweet flavorings. It was probably initially baked over coals. While many recipes give instructions for baking it in the oven, I prefer to use the stovetop for speed and for keeping my kitchen cooler in the summer.

adapted from: My Cooking Journey

Prep time: 15 minutes
Rising time: 2-2 ½ hours
Cooking time: 10 minutes

2 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons to grease
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup warm water (about 110º F), including ½ teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 cup raisins

1 teaspoon nigella or use roasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon of a mix of spices of your choice — cinnamon, fenugreek, cardomom, ginger

1. In a large bowl, add the flour, instant yeast, sugar, salt, spices, and nigella seeds. Stir well to combine.
2. Add the raisins and the oil. Mix to combine.
3. Slowly add warm water (including vanilla) to make a soft dough. Knead by hand for about 7 to 10 minutes to get a soft and non-sticky dough.
4. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, inserted into a plastic bag, and let it rest until doubled in volume, for about 1 1/2 hours.
5. Once the dough has risen, deflate it gently.
6. Spread the dough evenly across a greased, nine-inch stovetop pan. The dough may retract. In that case. If so, let it rest for 5 minutes and then stretch again.
7. Cover the pan with the plastic bag and let it rise for about 30 to 45 minutes or until the dough is puffy.
8. Use a blunt knife, fork, handle tip of spoon, or cooking scissor to make patterns on the dough . Work the design quickly to keep from losing the pattern as the dough may start to rise again.
9. Brush the top quickly with a bit of milk, or egg yolk, or olive oil.
10. Place the pan on a very low flame, cover and cook for about five minutes. Carefully flip the bread to cook, covered, for five minutes on the other side. When golden on both sides, it should be done.
11. Cool on a rack.
12. Slice and serve with butter, honey, berbere spice mix, or your preferred topping.

Rabbi’s Remarks:
1. I have also substituted dried blueberries for the raisins.
2. Black sesame seeds are more accurately nigella seeds.
3. I like to slice it in triangles, based on the design.
4. To watch a similar process see this video.

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