Mrs Maria’s bakery on the hill – Kefalos, Kos

Arriving by scooter, Mrs Maria makes and bakes bread in a small room on the side of a hill in the village of Kefalos. This sea facing room, a short scooter ride from Mrs Maria’s house, has been her personal bakery for thirty years where she produces bread for her family and friends. This once a month ritual normally begins at 6am and finishes 6 hours later. Without electricity, the little bakery fills with light through an opening in the stone wall, opposite a traditional oven. Kneading the dough with only her hands, Mrs Maria doesn’t use any machinery to produce her bread, rather she is aided by modest utensils. The dough is decanted into a traditional wooden basket lined with a white tea towel, then laid to rest on one of the two single beds in the room, and covered with four layers of heavy blankets. Before the dough enters the stone oven, Mrs Maria uses a hair comb and a razor blade to mark a pattern in her loaf. Originating in a past era, this personal bakery has stood the test of time, Mrs Maria’s persistent use of simple techniques and tools continue to impress, and her bread is in demand by those in the know in Kos.

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Method:

Mrs Maria uses three types of flour, white, yellow and a traditional variety from the ‘Sitari’ (flour mill in Kos), which are sifted together in a large plastic tub. Once the dry flour is fully combined, the ‘prozimi’ (yeast) is added, which Mrs Maria makes the evening before using white flour and water. Hot water is introduced and Mrs Maria kneads the dough with her hands (refer to video). Once the dough has been vigorously kneaded, Mrs Maria cuts a portion of the dough with a piece of rounded plastic. The dough is kneaded on a table and rolled in a sprinkling of black and white sesame seeds, ensuring the bottom and side of the bread is covered. The dough is then placed in a wooden basket, lined with a tea towel to rise, before sprinkled with the sesame mix again. The bread is left to rise for an hour or so, covered in four layers of blankets. In the meantime, Mrs Maria heats up the oven by lighting wood and branches inside, which burn out for 15-20 minutes. Using a wet rag on the end of a long stick, Mrs Maria clears the ash away before she places the bread inside the oven. The bread is baked for approximately an hour.

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