Good bread is life and it is fundamentally the most indispensable and the most comforting of all foods! Today, let’s go to Bosnia and Herzegovina for its famous lepinja!
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a southeastern European state, bordering the Adriatic Sea, with an area of close to 20,000 sq. miles, bordered by Montenegro, Serbia and Croatia. The country is the homeland of three ethnic groups: Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats.
The capital, which is also the largest city, is Sarajevo. Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of the six republics of the former Yugoslavia. The name Bosnia comes from the geographical location of the region crossed by the Bosna River. Herzegovina was formerly an Austrian duchy (Herzog meaning “duke” in German). The territories were administratively unified after the occupation of Bosnia by the Ottoman Empire in 1463 and Herzegovina 20 years later.
Bosnian cuisine uses several spices in moderate amounts. Most dishes are light and cooked in plenty of water. The sauces consist mainly of natural vegetable juices. Typical ingredients include tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, spinach, squash, dried or fresh beans, plums, milk, peppers and cream.
Bosnian cuisine is influenced by the West and the East. Due to Turkish rule for nearly 500 years, Bosnian cuisine is closely linked to Turkish, Greek, Ottoman and Mediterranean cultures. Thanks to the years of Austrian domination, certain Central European influences have also emerged.
Mike, who is never out of good ideas, had the idea for both of us to prepare the exact same recipes in our respective kitchens, in Los Angeles and in Paris, on the exact same day.
Let’s head to the Balkans for 3 regional must have recipes. Those 3 preparations are rarely served one without the other. We started with ajvar, a red pepper-based condiment. We then prepared cevapi, ground meat kebabs. And so it was obvious that we were going to make lepinja, which often goes with it, a traditional flat bread that is nicknamed “the pita of the Balkans”.
I love to bake bread! It goes back to my childhood, well before the teenage episode I told you about when I made my Estonian kringel.
Lepinja bread, also called lepinje or somun, specifically in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is indeed the daily bread of the Balkans. It contains yeast but also baking soda (or baking powder) which is supposed to make the bread much lighter. It is also known as lepinje za cevapi (flat bread for cevapi) because it is most often served with cevapi.
It is baked. And, just like pita, two layers separate during baking and its hollow center forms a pocket. You can open it on one side and fill it to make a sandwich or cut it in half or even four to make smaller sandwiches.
If the lepinja is cooked in the oven, there are also two other types of bread in the Balkans that are baked in a pan or on a hot stone called the mekike or skoro pa dijeltane. Lepinja has no specific origin. His history is simply the one of bread. The word bread comes from the Latin word panis which itself is composed of two parts, pa which means “long” and nis which means “to feed”.
“Bake like an Egyptian” – The Bangles (History of bread remix)
Bread has such an ancient history! It is an integral part of human history. It begins 8000 BC at the beginning of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent region, located on the border of present-day Iran and Iraq. The invention of leavened bread is attributed to the Egyptians in 3000 BC. The Egyptians discovered that by mixing the flour with the water of the Nile, they would obtain a consumable fermented dough after baking it. The Nile water, particularly rich in silt, contained the fermentation agents that we still use today. The breads that we find today on our plates result from a long agricultural, technological and gastronomic journey through the ages.
Bread is huge from one side of the earth to the other. There isn’t a country that does not have its specialties. On 196 flavors, we have already been published a multitude of bread recipes. Also, our second ebook features breads from around the world (our first eBook featured Christmas recipes around the world). Please download them, it is my present to you today!
I found Mike’s idea to both make the same recipes just great. It had not happened on 196 flavors yet. We were able to share all our tips, especially about some cooking methods or preparations that were not the same depending on the sources we used.
The addition of baking soda and the 3 rises give lepinja an incomparable light texture, so make sure to try it! It’s simple and you’ll love it!
- 8 cups flour
- 2 packages active dry yeast (about 5 teaspoons)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1¼ cup milk , warm
- 1 cup water , warm
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- In mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except salt. Using the hook accessory, knead on medium speed and gradually incorporate milk and water.
- After a couple minutes, incorporate salt. Knead for 5 minutes at low speed and 3 minutes at medium speed until the dough gets a little sticky.
- Place the dough in a large container, cover and let it rise in a warm place for 45 minutes, until it doubles in size.
- On a floured surface, work the dough with the palm of your hands for a couple minutes, then put it in the large container, cover and let it rise in a warm place for another 45 minutes.
- Divide the dough into pieces of approximately 1/2 lb. On a floured surface, work each piece of dough with the palm of your hands again, then form balls and let rise for 10 minutes.
- Flatten each piece of dough with the palm of the hand. If necessary, finish with a roll pin to level but without much pressure. Cut slits on each loaf and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Set aside for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 410 F. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes. Lower the temperature to 300 F and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes.
- Take the lepinja out of the oven, wrap the loaves with a cloth and let them cool off for 10 minutes so the crust softens.