Breads of the World
Jessamyn's Sephardic Challah
Jessamyn Waldman grew up in Canada eating challah, the Jewish Sabbath bread. Unlike the eggy challahs of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe, this version comes from the Sephardic Jews of the Mediterranean, who flavored their challahs with caraway and anise. Many challahs are braided, but this one is twisted into a round, turban-shaped loaf. To shape this challah, first stretch the dough into a long rope, then coil it. If the dough resists stretching, let it rest for five minutes before trying again.
Irish Soda Bread
A trip to Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland inspired Susie Tompkins Buell to make this dense and hearty soda bread. It's perfect used in a sandwich with fromage blanc, smoked salmon, watercress and thinly sliced red onion.
Elidia Ramos, taught her fellow bakers how to make gorditas, a favorite Mexico City street food. Crisp on the outside and soft within, these savory corn cakes are a great base for all types of toppings, from pulled pork to shredded chicken. For a more luscious gordita, fry the dough in lard or butter instead of oil.
Palestinian Spinach Pies
The spinach filling in these fatayer, inspired by a recipe from Palestinian-born baker Maha Ziadeh, isn't flavored with feta, as it is in the more common Greek spinach pies. Instead, it's spiked with lemon and sumac, a tangy Middle Eastern spice. Ziadeh forms the pies into a triangle, but the half-moon shape here is simpler to do.
The secret to Hot Bread Kitchen's richly flavorful tortillas is the masa made from freshly ground blue or white corn. Fresh masa is becoming increasingly available in cities with large Mexican populations, but masa harina, a dry corn flour, works well. In Mexico, cooks flatten tortillas with a wodden press, but a rolling pin or heavy skillet also works well. Press the dough between sheets of plastic wrap to keep it from sticking.
Lavash can be a soft flatbread, but Jessamyn Waldman developed this recipe based on Armenian-style lavash, which is very crisp and dusted with seeds or spices.
Rosemary-Potato Focaccia Rolls
Jessamyn Waldman makes her excellent focaccia rolls from a dough she learned while baking in New York City. When she sells the rolls at farmers' markets, she varies the toppings by season; she uses potato and rosemary in the winter and tomatoes and feta in the summer.
Hot Bread Kitchen
For More: How can six women who speak five different languages turn out eight kinds of bread in one cramped industrial kitchen? It's a problem the bakers at Hot Bread Kitchen in Queens, New York, deal with almost every day as they tackle the pile of orders for their excellent breads and baked goods from their homelands.