Soft and Chewy Balkan Bread


Pogacha is a type of bread baked in the ashes of a fireplace, and later on in the oven. This bread is found in the cuisines of the Balkans and Turkey. I found it after searching high and low for a great bread to bake for my homemade panini. I tried maybe a dozen bread recipes over the years just to get it right. I needed a bread that was light and airy that you could press using a panini press and wouldn't get too hard to chew or too thick to eat.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
20 mins
Additional Time:
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 5 mins


  • cup milk

  • cup water

  • 1 ½ teaspoons white sugar

  • 2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast

  • 2 cups bread flour

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ cup olive oil, or as needed


  1. Mix milk and water in a pot over low heat. Heat, stirring constantly, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the pot reads 110 degrees F (43 degrees C). Remove from heat. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Pour mixture into a cup or other cylindrical glass; sprinkle yeast on top. Let mixture rest until yeast is frothy and fragrant, about 10 minutes.

  2. Stir flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Pour in yeast mixture and mix until a sticky dough forms.

  3. Turn dough out on a floured work surface and knead quickly for 5 minutes. Shape dough into a ball. Grease a large bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add dough; toss around the bowl a few times to coat evenly with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

  4. Return dough back to the work surface and punch down. Coat your hands with a little olive oil and knead again for 1 minute. Divide into 5 balls. Flatten balls out into thick rectangles. Place rectangles of dough onto a greased baking sheet. Brush tops with a thin coat of olive oil. Let rest for 20 minutes.

  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) while dough rests.

  6. Bake bread in the preheated oven for 12 minutes. Switch to the broil setting until the tops of rolls turn golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove from the baking sheet and allow to cool completely. Cut rolls in half lengthwise.


For an Italian taste, I add 1/8 cup of one or more of the following: rosemary, thyme, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, and sometimes cut-up Kalamata olives. I top bread with thin onion slices, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese.

Or for a kick, I add 1/8 cup of one or more of the following: jarred jalapeño slices or diced fresh jalapeños, shredded Cheddar cheese, garlic powder, and red onion. I top bread with additional shredded Cheddar cheese and jalapeños.

For a flavor that mimics Red Lobster Cheddar biscuits, I add 1/8 cup of the following: cayenne pepper, garlic powder, shredded Cheddar cheese, chopped green onion, and dried parsley. I top bread with extra shredded Cheddar and parsley.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

296 Calories
12g Fat
38g Carbs
8g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 5
Calories 296
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 12g 16%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 249mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 38g 14%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 47mg 4%
Iron 3mg 14%
Potassium 137mg 3%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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