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?emsa Denizsel's sourdough bread

August 03, 2013

There may be no better illustration of how Semsa Denizsel  works than her sourdough bread, which is some of the best in Istanbul. It came about almost by accident. One day on a whim, she decided to make some bread, just like that. "I've never been a baker; I've always been a cook. I don't have the patience," she says.

But somehow she found herself obsessed. She set up a notebook and tried something different every day, taking notes in an uncharacteristically precise way. She researched flours from all over and eventually settled on an Anatolian heirloom wheat whose origins are more than 8,000 years old.

Denizsel finally got it right after attending a workshop in Rome given by master pizza chef Gabriele Bonci. Never mind that she didn't understand a word of Italian. She watched his hands. And whenever he did something to the dough, she'd poke it. Whatever she learned, it changed her bread profoundly. Now she goes through 15 tons of flour a year and sells her gorgeous crusty loaves at her restaurant, downstairs in her takeout boutique and to a few other restaurants too.

Her next project? Croissants. She'll be in New York in October and is looking for a way to learn how to make the notoriously difficult dough when she's there. Should someone tell her about the Cronut?

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