Let’s chat book clubs again! This bi-monthly Cook the Books Club pick is The Temporary Bride, hosted by Claudia from Honey on Rock.
The Temporary Bride is a memoir by Jennifer Klinec.
Warning! Spoilers ahead!!!!
The book briefly touches on Klinec’s childhood in Canada, a bit more on her early adulthood in London, and finally a culinary trip to Iran.
I’m not gonna lie, I’m still not completely clear why Klinec chose to go to Iran when she needed a break from her totally awesome (yet exhausting) job teaching cooking classes (very successfully) out of her home, after leaving her other successful corporate career.
Anyhow, she goes to Iran and meets Vahid. They start as awkward acquaintances, and swiftly move to friendship and then a romantic relationship, culminating in a temporary marriage (a mind-boggling actual thing in Iran).
I was most shocked to discover (with a google search) that Jennifer and Vahid actually married in London a few years later!
Anyway, as far as recipes go, I was most interested in the bread (shocker, I know). In this book we were introduced to Sangak, a bread that is baked in a fire oven on top of gravel and served hot. I wanted to try it, but was unwilling to use gravel.
Interestingly enough, when I originally searched for Iranian bread recipes, Barbari, not Sangak came up most frequently.
So I decided to make Barbari instead. I adapted the spice topping to what I had on hand, and this was a huge hit in my house (Spud is still begging for me to make more!)
Adapted from Persian Mama
1 cup warm water (about 115 degrees F)
1 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
¼ cup cold water
1 teaspoon flour
¼ cup hot water
¼ teaspoon baking soda
Dried minced garlic
Dried minced onion
In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the water, yeast, and sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes or until foamy.
Add the salt and 1 cup of flour and mix until smooth. Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining cup of flour. Once the flour is incorporated, knead on low for an additional 2-3 minutes. The dough will still be quite sticky.
Transfer the dough into an oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free area to proof for 30 minutes. Or until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F and place a baking stone in the oven.
Then make the roomal. Whisk together the cold water and flour. Pour the mixture into a small saucepan over medium heat. Immediately whisk in the hot water and baking soda. Continue cooking until the mixture thickens and comes to a low boil. Once the glaze is thickened, set aside to cool (the mixture will continue to thicken).
Once the dough has risen, divide it into two equal dough balls. Place 1 dough ball into a generously floured work surface.
Cover your hands with roomal. Use your hands to cover the dough with glaze, while stretching it to a 6x9-inch oval. While stretching, create ridges on the surface. Sprinkle the dough with the topping spices.
Carefully transfer the dough to the preheated baking stone, stretching the dough further, rather than letting it shrink in on itself. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until deeply browned. Cool slightly and serve.