A NEIGHBORHOOD BAKERY
Captured by The Recipe Hunters in Cyprus
The Recipe Hunters Stumble Upon A Local Bakery
While living and volunteering on a farm in Kyrenia (Girne), Cyprus, we keep hearing about a great local bakery named Hüseyīn. The bakery was known for it's old-fashioned wood fired oven and each specialty bread is made by an 80 year old grandmother. One morning while taking a stroll after some farm work, we accidentally stumbled upon the bakery. Naturally, we were intrigued and decided to buy some fresh loaves of bread. Upon entering, we were greeted by a man named Ertan and his son Jann. Other than introductions communication was limited due to our inability to speak Turkish or Greek. We show them some pictures and try to explain what we, as The Recipe Hunters, do. We set for an appointment the next day at 11 am. Returning to GROL Garden, we ask Iman, our fellow Persian volunteer and friend to help us translate Turkish to English the next day. We arrive the next day at 11 am and to our disappointment, all the bread is already made. Iman translates to discuss that we want to see the entire process from the beginning. Jann tells us to return tomorrow at 8 am, giving us some complimentary bread for the miscommunication troubles. Without hesitation, we are there the next day ready to make bread at 8 am. Upon arrival, we find out that the dough is already made!! What time do these people really start?? Jann signs to follow him and we head to the back of the bakery to meet his grandma, Hatiçe. Hatiçe is hunched over a table in her little kitchen making Hellimli (Greek: Haloumoti) while chatting with a friend. She gives us a big smile, a hug, and invites us for coffee and breakfast. To our luck, Hatiçe’s friend speaks English! We set a date for the following morning at 3:00 am!!! This time they pack us freshly baked tahini bread knowing that the next day would be an early start!! To make up our volunteer hours, we work the rest of the day on the farm and make it to the bakery at 3 AM the next morning. Arriving just in time, we are able to document the dough making from beginning to end. At 5 am, Hatiçe calls us into the kitchen. We spend the next 8 hours with her as she shows us her daily routine.
How did Hüseyīn bakery start?
Hatiçe and her husband Hüseyīn, had their first child Ertan in 1959 while living in Lapitos. During the first Greek/Turkish struggle in 1963, they moved to Kyrenia. They bought a coffee shop and transformed it into a successful bakery in 1968. Though Hüseyīn has since passed away, his sons have taken over the family business and hope to keep it in the family for generations to come.
Brotherly love: Each day the brothers and sons of Hatice, Ertan and Kenan, alternate responsibilities opening the bakery and making the dough at 3 am. Upon arrival of the other brother at 3:45 am, Ertan sets the dough cutter and rolling machine to produce 600g balls of dough. They work quickly and efficiently placing the dough into the large divots of the wooden planks and into the oven. In about an hour they make 162 loaves. As the bread bakes, we take a break outside, following them into the street where they utter their first words of the morning. It’s not yet 5 am and the sky is lit with stars. We look up. There is a mutual understanding that although it is early, the joy of being healthy enough to do something you love and connect with your village through providing bread, is enough to make you be thankful you are here.
Why does Hatiçe cook with love?
Everyday from 5 am until 1 pm Hatiçe works nonstop making the best specialty breads in Girne. The bread revitalizes her, providing her a way to be a positive part of her family and the community. She could have retired 20 years ago but she would rather share her love through bread with the community. People come say hi to her as she makes bread, they line up at the bakery throughout the day for her traditional pastries and loaves. We spent 12 hours at the bakery helping Hatiçe and learning her recipes. She was thoughtful, patient, and more than willing to share with us a day in her life. The next time you are in Cyprus, we reccomend a visit to the back of the bakery where Hatiçe will be for years to come kneading and baking away. If you can't make it to Cyprus, try out her tahini swirl recipe below!