Saturday, February 16, 2013

Assyrian Spinach Pies to celebrate Bread Baking Babes

Celebrate because it was 5 years ago Tanna and I toyed with the idea to gather baking friends and start baking together as a group. Base thought was to keep it small and intimate, to stir ideas around, to be able to have flour talks like other women discuss shoes (“do you think these heels make my ankles look fat?” translates into “when I bake this bread and retard it do you think I need to add more water due to the coarse rye flour?”). Throughout the years we found great gals, bread Babes in the kitchen but maybe even more importantly Babes at heart. The love for messing around with dough is imminent but also we found that these Babes were also a no-rules attached group of Friends, there’s always at least one of them there when you need them to vent some steam, to bitch around, to cry or to exchange silly jokes. Shout or whisper, someone will hand you that much needed bottle, the hankie, the colored jokes. A great group. And we bake!






This month Tanna provided us with a recipe for Spinach pies. Pies as in savory hand held bites originally filled with spinach and cheese but they lend themselves to every filling imaginable. I jumped at the spinach filling because I do like my spinach, then add some real feta and let my thoughts roam around for added extra’s. I thought of adding red pepper and raisins… then turned to that lonely can of figs in the pantry!
So in my bowl with filling I had this:


Filling idea

450 gr chopped raw baby spinach (chopped my adult spinach roughly, should have chopped more)
3 chopped canned figs
pinch of lime juice,
3 chopped caramelized garlic cloves
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 tbs honey
75 gr chopped walnuts
200 gr crumbled feta
salt and pepper


1 tablespoon active dry yeast, (2 1/4 teaspoons)  = 1 package
2 cups warm water (105° to 115°)
1/2 teaspoon ground mahlab (I know I had it somewhere, couldn’t find it so I added 1 tsp za’tar instead!)
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for kneading, use some white whole wheat next time
1 large yellow onion, chopped and sauteed
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup olive oil (I used about 50 grams)

Then this dough, I didn’t think, just followed the recipe as is; resulting in a wonderful silky very sticky dough. A great dough really. To use in jelly roll fashion. As it turned out not suitable to make the circles of dough to fill and pinch together and make savoury pies. I tried rolling out 50 grams balls of dough. Didn’t work. The stuff held on to the counter as if it was fearing for it’s life. Then I tried rolling out a rectangle and armed with a big round cookie cutter tried to cut rounds…. Uhuh. Good thinking, too bad that didn’t work either. Flour flew, curses flew, rolling pin tossed to the side. I shaped more or less round disks of dough, held in the palm of my hand and stuffed the filling in, then pinched the sides together forming a triangle with raised edges. Beautiful. Upon baking the dough (being the wet dough it was) rose and cleared the carefully shaped ridges completely. Puffy bread filled with spinach. Excellent.

Leftover pies can be frozen. When cool, arrange them on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer them to heavy-duty resealable plastic bags and freeze for up to 1 month. To reheat, thaw the pies in their wrapping, then set them on a baking sheet and pop into a preheated 350°F oven for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


After 6 of those I thought: Stuff It!! and shaped the rest of the dough in a ball, baked a boule. LOL.

Now.. what I should have done in the first place was “watch while knead”. Lesson #1 of baking bread. I didn’t. I assembled all ingredients in the bread machine for easy kneading, closed the lid and went merrily on with other stuff. Lesson #2 of baking bread: hold back on some of the water, especially with US recipes only add some if need be. Now I was left with that bowl of lovely looking, great smelling spinach filling. And I still needed dinner. So I cooked pasta, tossed the rest of the filling in a big pan with olive oil and quick stirred it with a little cream…. Bliss on a plate! Lovely dinner. I won’t tell you about two boys meticulously picking out all walnut pieces before proceeding to eat. I also won’t tell you about the gagging sounds they made when they discovered they missed a piece. I do love my boys. Pity they don’t love their walnuts as much as I love them.



Heart shaped Spinach pie. Cute!
Please check the cutesy Babes as well; they filled and formed each in their own way. Our differences make a whole:

Bread Baking Babe Biblioth├ęcaire – Katie
blog from OUR kitchen – Elizabeth
Feeding my enthusiasms – Elle
girlichef – Heather
Life’s A Feast – Jamie
Living in the Kitchen with Puppies – Natashya
Lucullian Delights - Ilva
My Kitchen In Half Cups – Tanna
Notitie Van Lien – Lien
Paulchens Foodblog – Astrid
Provecho Peru – Gretchen

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:



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  1. One thing is sure and that is that you and I follow that one rule slavishly: no rules! Love your pies AND the unruly hyacinths too! xoxo

  2. Red Pepper and raisins! Now THERE'S an idea!

    Beautiful pies, Karen! The boule looks awfully good too - as I was fighting with sealing up triangles, I considered stuffing it and making a boule with the rest too.

    (And those shoes are perfect with that outfit.)

  3. Oh Karen I am wowed by your: Our differences make a whole! LOVE your writing in this one! You are so beautiful ... let's bake away ... into the night!

  4. That combination with the pasta sounds just heavenly!
    Yes less water, can't count how many times I just threw it in, not this time, but I'm sure it'll happen again soon :) Beautiful colour on these.

  5. I love your adaptations! That's one of the great things about these pies - so adaptable.
    Yours look wonderful indeed.

  6. Love your summary of the Babes. It's true, it is more than flour, but so much fun to have friends who also love their flours...and how much water to add.
    I also found that eventually I got tired of making little pies, hence the crescent. LOVE that you added figs and honey and red pepper flakes...I can just imagine the wonderful flavors coming together with the spinach...and those pesky walnuts. Kids are great in letting you know what they don't like, aren't they?
    Lovely heart shaped pie...happy, like you.

  7. Kids are so funny with what they will and won't eat - sounds like a lovely pasta, too LOL

  8. Five years ago, Tanna and Karen decided that they wanted an intimate bread baking group, much like a knitting group or book club, but centred around the love and the baking of bread from scratch. They soon had a group of a dozen and, to my great joy, brought me into the fold months later.


  9. Great story. Love your filling recipe! Don't tell anyone, but I burned my walnuts and threw them in there anyway.


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