Horiatiko psomi is a super easy rustic Greek bread recipe. The bread has a fluffy yet chewy crumb with a chewy and crusty crust, it is fantastic as a side dish to soups, or as a secret snack with a spread of Nutella. It works for both sweet and savory!
We love bread of all shapes and sizes! Whole wheat bread is my go-to, which ironically is not on the blog yet. These whole-wheat bread rolls are the closest to it as I have.
If you're a bread lover like me, make sure to check those out as well!
Why you’ll love this recipe
You will love this Greek country bread because it is
- easy to make
- has minimal ingredients
- a very special, dense yet soft texture with a buttery taste
- is a great bread as a "side bread" to soups and salads
- but also as toast bread - for both sweet and savory!
- it can be made both whole-wheat and white.
- fresh or dry yeast - to help it rise
- all-purpose flour - to make poolish, read below
- lukewarm water - for moisture and to make the poolish
- extra virgin olive oil - for moisture and to make it easier for the gluten network to expand
- durum wheat (semolina) - ground durum wheat is less processed than all-purpose flour, semolina bread will have a crusty and golden outside, with a soft yet dense and juicy inside.
- salt - has a binding or strengthening effect on gluten and allows the dough to rise without tearing, it also makes it tastes better so that's that.
Don't get scared by this weird word and thing. It is ridiculously easy and worth the extra time.
Poolish is kind of like a sourdough starter or pre-fermentation using very little yeast. It is often used in pizza dough, but it works really well in this poolish bread as well.
To make this sourdough poolish, simply mix ⅔ cup of lukewarm water with 150 grams of all-purpose flour and a small punch of instant dry yeast. Cover with plastic wrap. Let this sit on the counter for somewhere between 12-24 hours.
I had mine on the counter for 16 hours in a 66 ℉ (19℃) room.
It is ready when it is bubbly on top. If you're not ready by the time the poolish is ready, move it to the fridge.
Make the bread
For the bread, to the bowl of your stand mixer (or another large bowl), add the rest of the yeast and lukewarm water. Mix to combine. Then add the flour and salt, oil and sourdough poolish.
Knead this mixture well with the dough hook attachment, for about 8-10 minutes or until the dough lets go of the bowl*. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled in size (roughly 75 minutes at room temperature).
* If you want to add flavorings like olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and herbs (see Expert tips), knead them into the bread by hand at the end of the kneading time.
Then preheat the oven to 480℉ (250℃). Carefully shape the dough into a round bread (or put it in a bread pan), and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake on the lower rack for 20 minutes, then turn the oven off and let it continue to bake in the residual heat (with the door closed) for another 10 minutes.
Let the bread cool on a wire rack, uncovered.
NB! These photos use whole-wheat flour (see Expert tips below). For the standard recipe, I make one larger piece of bread usually.
If you plan to eat the bread within a few days, keep it in a linen bag (bread bag) or simply just a plastic bag on the counter for 3-4 days. It will dry out a little, but it's still delicious.
For longer storage, bread is great to freeze. Freeze in a plastic bag and thaw on the counter overnight. Almost as good as new!
What is the poolish method?
It is like a sourdough starter but is quicker and easier as you use a pinch of yeast. It is a pre-fermentation stage great for pizzas and some bread recipes.
Is poolish better than sourdough?
No, not necessarily. It depends on what you are using it for. I would use poolish for Neapolitan pizza for those characteristic airy pockets. For bread, you could use either or.
How long should you leave poolish?
You should leave poolish on the counter until it is bubbly and makes a little dip in the middle. It takes somewhere between 12-24 hours.
Is poolish really necessary?
The poolish is necessary to create air into especially Neapolitan pizzas, but it can also come in handy for some bread recipes like this village bread. It also gives a slightly sour taste like with sourdough.
However, you don't have to use it. But you'd still need to use the water and flour in the recipe as per usual.
If you don't want to use yeast, you can add two spoonfuls of sourdough starter instead of the yeast in the poolish. However, the end result will not be very different, and adding a pinch of yeast sounds easier, right?
How is semolina different from flour?
Semolina is made from durum wheat and is usually a little more granular than regular flour. The semolina can come in various degrees of "fineness", depending on how many times it has been milled. I use durum flour that has been milled twice, for a finer texture.
What is semolina flour best used for?
Semolina flour is great for pizzas and pasta, but also for some kinds of bread. It has high gluten content, so it needs a little bit more kneading, but holds its shape great even without using eggs.
I like to use it in the Greek bread loaf because it makes a nice crust and a golden, buttery inside. This Greek bread recipe won't be the same with all-purpose flour!
- Greek - 3 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 25 grams sliced olives, 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary, 1 grated garlic clove. Knead into the dough by hand at the end of the kneading time.
- Italian - 1 cup parmesan (cubed or shredded) and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary. Knead into the dough as with the Greek version.
- Whole-wheat - use fine wholemeal flour in the poolish. Then, use 1 cup whole wheat flour and 2 cups durum wheat in the bread itself. You could also add a little of the version below if you'd like. For this, I like to make a little smaller bread and divide the dough into two instead of one larger. Bake the same.
- Seeds - add seeds into the dough or on top (or both). I prefer seeds like crushed flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and pepitas inside the bread (mix it with the poolish if you want softer seeds). If you want them crunchy on the top, brush the bread with water and sprinkle on the seeds before baking.
Did you like this recipe? Here are more bread recipes I think you’d love:
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