Omid, many thanks for posting your formula, as well as the info about the Barbari bread. One thing I found interesting was the roo-mal sauce, made of flour, water and baking soda. I'm curious as to your thoughts about this sauce. I think it definitely helps maintain the characteristic lengthwise grooves, as well as serving as a medium for the seeds to better adhere - but as far as flavor, I'm not so sure.
Last night I prepared some barbari dough following your formula, with 70% hydration and 9% sourdough starter, and noticed that 7 hours after mixing, the dough doubled during a room temp bulk fermentation (at 71 degrees farenheit). Since it was late last night I resorted to storing the dough in the refrigerator. Look forward to baking some tonight.
Dear Johnny, the barbari sauce, roo-maal, is traditionally made of water and flour only, although there are a great many online recipes that call for baking soda. The Institute of Standards also endorses the use of water and flour as the sole ingredients for preparing the sauce. Furthermore, professional barbari bakers strongly advise against using baking soda in making the sauce because it can have adverse effect on formation of the top crust, in addition to vitiating the flavor. Moreover, under certain circumstances, baking soda can undesirably make the top crust dry, brittle, and flaky, and rubbery crumb may form below the top crust. According to one account that I have heard, non-professional bakers began adding baking soda to the sauce because it helps to stabilize the barbari grooves during baking, so that they would not be undone. Also, I have heard that the use of baking soda in the sauce began when some bakers who thought it would help oven spring when the dough is rushed or is not properly leavened.
In my experience, roo-maal plays an important role in terms of:
1. How the bread bakes,
2. Formation and texture of the top crust,
3. Coloration of the top crust, and
4. Formation of the crumb below the crust
Some Persian bakers compare the sauce to the varnish used in finishing a fine violin. To them, just as a bad varnish negatively impacts the sound of a fine violin, a bad roo-maal can likewise ruin a good barbari bread. Therefore, preparation of the sauce should not be taken lightly. There are really no fixed recipes for the sauce; it is all based on the feel and experience.
There are different ways of preparing the sauce, using water and flour only. Below are two common methods:
According to the Institute of Standards, the sauce is made by, first, making a very wet dough, using water and flour only. Next, boil some water in a pot, add the wet dough therein, and continuously stir, under low heat, until the dough becomes fluid and gelatinized in the water, giving the water a thicker consistency. Once the mixture reaches the proper consistency (not too thin and not too thick), remove the pot from heat and remove whatever dough clumps that might be left in the pot.
About an hour before baking your breads, bring a volume of water to the boiling point and then turn the heat very low. Using your fingers, start sprinkling flour a little at a time while continuously stirring the mixture with a whisk. Avoid formation of lumps in the mixture. Continue this process until the mixture reaches the desired consistency. It should not be too thick, not too thin either. At last, let the sauce fully cool down in room temperature. The sauce should be prepared about an hour prior to baking your breads. However, if you prepare a large volume of the sauce, then it may take more than an hour to fully cool down.
Some unorthodox barbari bakers in Iran use the first method, above, but they use a piece of the leavened barbari dough of the day instead of using a wet dough made out of water and flour only. Also, some non-traditional barbari bakers use either the first or second method, and add some date syrup to the mixture. Some even use milk and/or eggs. Again, as mentioned above, the traditionalists use only water and flour in making roo-maal, which takes some time to figure out the right balance between the water and flour in the mixture. By the way, how thick or thin the layer of sauce is on the surface of the dough matters.
How did your barbari bread turn out? Have a great day!