A loaf of bread with lemon slices and herbs baked on top on a mustard-brown tablecloth
Photography, Jorge Rivera

Greek Country Bread With Lemon and Thyme

A fluffy, foccacia-like bread that's best served warm.

Psomi is a type of traditional bread found throughout Greece and available in many variations. Helena and Vikki Moursellas, who rose to prominence cooking their family-style Greek food on the Australian cooking show My Kitchen Rules, share their grandmother’s psomi recipe in Peináo: A Greek Feast for All. “Yiayia would ask us daily: ‘théleis lígo psomí?’ (do you want some bread?)” they recall in the book. “Eating freshly baked bread, sitting in front of the heater and watching Days of Our Lives with Yiayia is a memory that is still very vivid for us.”

Peináo: A Greek Feast for All is out on October 31.
A loaf of bread with lemon slices and herbs baked on top on a mustard-brown tablecloth

Greek Country Bread With Lemon and Thyme

Helena and Vikki Moursellas' recipe for a fluffy, focaccia-like Greek bread with garlic confit oil, lemons and thyme.
Course Appetizer, bread, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Australian, Greek
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

Confit Garlic Oil

  • 3 whole garlic bulbs
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • cups extra virgin olive oil

Bread

  • tsp active dried yeast
  • 2 tsp superfine sugar
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 550 g bread flour sifted
  • oz graviera cheese finely grated
  • 1 tbsp lemon thyme leaves plus extra for scattering
  • 1 tsp salt flakes plus extra for sprinkling
  • 2 tbsp Confit Garlic Oil
  • 1 small lemon finely sliced

Instructions
 

Confit Garlic Oil

  • Peel the garlic cloves and place in a saucepan with the bay leaves and oil. Place over high heat until it reaches 140°F (60°C) on a kitchen thermometer, then reduce the heat to low and cook gently for 30 minutes or until the garlic is soft and lightly coloured.
  • Allow the oil to completely cool in the pan, then gently pour into a 600 ml sterilized jar and seal with a lid. Store the remaining oil on the counter or in the pantry for up to 3 months.

Bread

  • Place the yeast, sugar and lukewarm water in a bowl and set aside for 5 minutes or until frothy.
  • Place the flour, cheese, thyme and salt flakes in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Pour in the yeast mixture, along with 1 tbsp of the garlic oil, and knead on low speed for 10 minutes or until a smooth sticky dough forms.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Grease and line the base and sides of a 12 in × 8 in × 1½ in (30 cm × 20 cm × 4 cm) baking tray with baking paper.
  • Transfer the dough to the prepared tray, then use your fingers to push out the dough to fill the tray. Set aside for 30 minutes or until risen slightly. Drizzle the remaining garlic oil over the dough and press your fingers into the dough to form dimples (just like a focaccia).
  • Transfer the bread to the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Halfway through cooking, carefully lay the lemon slices on top of the bread and scatter with extra lemon thyme and a few salt flakes. Continue to bake for the remaining time until golden. Serve warm.

Notes

Our bread is best eaten fresh from the oven, but if time is an issue the bread can be baked the night before, then covered tightly with plastic wrap and left at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C), spray the bread with some water (this helps the bread get back to being super fluffy and soft) and bake for 15 minutes or until the bread is crispy. Weighing out your dry ingredients the night before can also save you time.

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