Hapalos Artos (soft bread), a traditional Ancient Roman recipe for a classic fine bread, from Athenaeus' Deipnosophistae
Amongst the Greeks it is a bread called 'soft' which is made with a little milk and sufficient olive oil and salt. The dough must be made supple. The bread is called 'Cappadocian' since for the most part 'soft' bread is made in Cappadocia. The Syrians call such bread lakhma and in Syria this bread is delicious through being eaten warm.
600g strong white flour
125ml warm water
1½ tsp dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
60ml olive oil
75ml warm milk
½ tsp sea salt
In a cup, dissolve the sugar in the warm water (which should be at or just slightly above body temperature). Sprinkle the dried yeast on top of this, cover and leave in a warm dry place for about 15 miutes, until the mix starts frothing.
Sift the flour into a large bowl, mix in the salt and then create a crater in the middle. Pour the yeast mix, the olive oil and milk into this. Gradually mix the flour into the liquid ingredients to form a dough. Knead this firmly for about five minutes (adding more flour or water as necessary) until the dough is firm.
Take a 500g bread tin and grease liberally with butter before lining with a dusting of flour. Press the dough into the bottom of the tin, cover with a cloth and leave to stand in a warm place for about an hour until it has risen.
Bake in an oven pre-heated to 200°C for about 40 minutes until the crust is a pale golden colour. This loaf should have a soft centre and is excellent with soups.