Back in my native country, bread is an essential element of our table. Albanian Home Bread or Bukë shtëpie is a simple recipe that anyone can use to make homemade bread. You can work the dough in the different shapes depending on what baking dish you have.
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Bread and Albanian Tradition
Bread is so essential in the Albanian tradition that we often interchange the word Eat or Meal with the word Bread. For example Albanians will say something like Hajde per Buke, Ulemi te hame Buke etc which respectively mean Let’s go for Bread or Let’s sit to eat bread etc. The idea is not to sit and eat just bread but since bread was an important part of our tradition, it has made its way into the everyday vocabulary to signify more.
Bread is also a symbol of Albanian hospitality and friendship. This post is too short to explain my native country’s history. But to make a long story short, sharing bread was a sign of peace, loyalty and hospitality.
Flour & Yeast
I haven’t lived in Albania for over 20 years now. While cooking other recipes, it’s easy to adjust from one country to another, it’s very different for bread. Flour types vary so much between countries and their names vary too. Same for yeast. Please note that my recipe below is cooked with American ingredients so you might have to adjust slightly the recipe to match what you have available in your location.
- Flour: Bread Flour (preferred) or All Purpose Flour in the absence of Bread Flour. In Albania we used a flour type called 00.
- Yeast – Instant Yeast
Kneading & Letting Dough Rise
I know we are all rushed for time and kneading and letting dough rise are all but time saving. The reason I’m sharing this recipe in this format is more for preserving the memory of how we made bread than for the efficiency. I hope I can share soon some more creations I’m working on that don’t need so much work.
Dough needs quite a bit of kneading and it needs to rise twice. At the moment I’m writing this recipe, we’re in the whole 2020 Social Distancing situation so we have plenty of time on our hands. My kids are loving the process of making bread so it has turned into a family activity too:).
Recipe Tips & Notes
This is not a difficult recipe to make. It has few ingredients. Technique is more important than anything else and the technique is easier explained with a video so I tried to film the process with my cell phone. Please see video at the bottom of the recipe card on how to make this bread.
- It’s important to mix the yeast with warm water and milk. But it cannot be hot water or milk. Make sure they’re just lukewarm.
- Mix the flour slowly with the yeast/water/milk mix you created. Initially as you form the dough it will be sticky but as you work the dough, it will become more elastic and less sticky. Add olive oil too to the mix.
- Let the dough rise to double its size in a warm area of your kitchen. That part took about 1 hour for me but depending of temperature of your kitchen it might take slightly longer.
- At this point, you can knead the dough as it then place it into a bread loaf baking dish or separate into rolls and knead each roll separately.
- Knead each roll separately, smooth it over and then place all rolls into the baking tray (we call it tepsi in my native language).
- Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes. The trick here is to place an oven safe dish filled with 1-2 inches of water inside the oven as well. The vapors from this dish will help the bread bake but not dry out.
- Serve warm and enjoy:). My preference is to serve them with butter and feta cheese.
Albanian Home Bread – Buke Shtepie
- 5 cups bread flour
- 1 packet Instant Yeast (Rapid Rise)
- 2 cups warm water
- 0.5 cup milk room temperature
- 3 tbsps olive oil extra virgin
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- Mix milk and 1 cup of water then add yeast, mix well so there are no lumps. Set aside.
- Mix 5 cups of flour with salt and sugar in a big mixing bowl.
- You can mix with your hands or using a spoon. Video shows how you can make the dough with your hands, it's sticky at first but totally worth it. Start by creating a small crater on the flour mound. Add a little bit of the yeast mix and start mixing slowly.
- Continue alternating slowly between mixing and adding more of the yeast mix. Fold more flour into the mix each time.
- Continue the same motion of folding flour and forming dough while adding the rest of the water and olive oil. At this point you should have mixed everything together. The dough is initially sticky and you need to work it with your hands into a more elastic shape and less sticky.
- At the final step add just a handful of flour over the dough, it helps create the final dough shape and remove it from the bowl. Sprinkle just few drops of olive oil in the bowl, spread it at the bottom of the bowl and then place dough back in.
- Cover the bowl and leave it in a dark, warm area of your kitchen for the dough to rise. In my kitchen this process takes about an hour. However, it can take longer than that depending on the temperature of your room. Usually I gauge by the size of the dough. You need to let it rise to twice it's size.
- Once dough has risen, take it out of the bowl and into a working surface, I prefer wood. Knead the dough for few minutes. Then roll it into a tube shape and cut it in fist size rolls, about 12 -13 rolls.
- Melt the butter and spread some on the bottom of the baking tray. You can choose to bake this bread into a loaf or rolls, it's your choice. I prefer rolls because they're easier to store once baked.
- Knead each roll by folding the sides in and then kneading down, repeat few time and finish by making each roll into a round shape. Place on the baking tray. Repeat with all of them. Place the rolls about an inch apart if you can. If your tray is smaller than mine, the rolls will push into each other once baked but you'll be able to pull them apart.
- Use the rest of the butter to coat the surface of each roll, use your hands or a brush.
- Place the tray in a warm place in the kitchen, dough needs to rise a second time. This time it won't double but you still need to see a noticeable difference. Usually I let it rise for 30 minutes.
- While the dough is rising, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (about 200 degrees Celsius).
- Once dough has risen, place the tray in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until the rolls take a light reddish-brown color, very light.
- Insert an oven safe dish in the oven the same time you insert your bread tray. This second dish needs to have 1-2 inches of water in it, nothing else. The vapors from the water will help that the bread doesn't dry up too much while baking.
- Once baked cool bread in a cooling rack, then place in a basket and keep covered with a linen towel. Serve warm with cheese, butter or your favorite sides!! Enjoy:)
- Calories are estimated (per 1 roll) using MyFitnessPal.
If you would like to save this recipe for later, please pin the below image to Pinterest. Feel free to contact me for any questions or tag me in social media if you made the recipe:). Thank you!!