Atlanta is a crossroads of scores of breadmaking cultures and techniques


Flatbread

Photograph by Martha Williams

Arriving in an unfamiliar country, immigrants often pound the pavement looking for the bread they’re accustomed to—whether that’s a properly boiled bagel, a crisp baguette, suitably dense whole-wheat rye, or injera to accompany an Ethiopian or Eritrean feast. And if they don’t find it? They make it. Thus has Atlanta filled up with world groceries and international bakeries where one can find pretty much any bread one desires—including the following favorites of mine.

Sangak
Pictured: top
This long, thin, tangy whole-wheat Persian bread has a pebbly surface because, traditionally, it’s baked over a bed of small, hot rocks. Slightly crisp on the outside but plenty pliable—it’s often folded over on itself after baking—it is the perfect vehicle for a juicy kebab or a piece of grilled fish. Buy it fresh at Taaj Kabob & Grill (6385 Spalding Drive, Peachtree Corners), either as part of a sit-down meal or to take home. It freezes beautifully; revive pieces in the toaster as needed.

Himbasha
Pictured: second from top
In Ethiopia and Eritrea, this huge, slightly sweet yeasted bread is often part of coffee ceremonies and holiday celebrations, both Jewish and Christian. Scored with a decorative concentric pattern, it’s flavored with ground cardamom and is usually torn by hand into thick morsels—the ideal accompaniment to a strong cup of Ethiopian coffee. An entirely female staff bakes himbasha, injera, and more in the back of African Cultural and Injera Groceries (3652 Market Street, Clarkston).

Lepinje
Pictured: third from top
Resembling a giant hamburger bun and often served with cevapi sausages, this Bosnian bread is fluffy, tender, and profoundly creamy, with an interior texture resembling that of an English muffin—the result of three proofings. It’s available at Balkan bakeries in the Lawrenceville and Snellville area including Grand Prix (377 West Pike Street, Lawrenceville), whose superlative bread can be purchased intown at the equally superlative Bakkal International Foods (5690 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs). Lepinje is sold, too, at the Buford Highway Farmers Market.

Simit
Pictured: bottom
All over Turkey, people like to snack on this thin, sesame-encrusted bread—all you need is a cup of tea and a smear of fresh preserves or yogurt cheese. Street vendors in Turkey sell simit from piles they tote around on trolleys, but, in the Atlanta area, these breads are baked by Bernhard’s—which happens to be the best German bakery around (1592 Atlanta Road, Marietta). Inside the Perimeter, you can find Bernhard’s simit in the freezer section at Bakkal International Foods.

Back to Pastry World!

This article appears in our February 2022 issue.





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