Cuisine Fiend

dabo - ethiopian honey bread


Yemarina Yewotet Dabo

Dabo means ‘bread’ and the full original name of this wonderful loaf is Yemarina Yewotet Dabo: honey and milk bread. Honey is apparently plentiful in Ethiopia but the use of it in everyday baking is not common - or of eggs, spices and milk - so this is a truly special, festive product.

The spices come through beautifully. I’ve used cardamom, allspice, cinnamon and ginger, after Vanessa’s recipe from Bakery Bits blog, but I’ve seen coriander and cloves listed as ingredients in other recipes. Not quite as sweet as you might think – and if you reduce the amount of honey, you can happily slice it for sandwiches.

Delicious fresh from the oven, but it makes great toast as well. You can shape it into a plain round loaf or plait it like challah.

dabo - ethiopian honey bread

Servings: one large loafTime: 3 hours


  • 30g fresh or 12g fast action yeast
  • 60ml warm water
  • 1 free range egg, beaten
  • 125g runny honey
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 10g salt
  • 250g warm milk
  • 75 g melted butter
  • 525g strong white flour
  • For the glaze:
  • 1 tbsp salt mixed with 2 tbsp water, to glaze
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds


1. Mix the yeast with warm water in a small bowl and let it stand for 15 minutes. Beat the honey with the egg, salt and spices in another bowl. Warm up the milk with the melted butter.

2. Place the flour in a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment. Add the yeast, the honey mix, the milk and butter and mix it all together to a soft dough. Knead by hand on a floured surface or in the standing mixer – it will take a while as the dough will at first be impossibly sticky. It’s ready when it becomes smooth, stretchy and silky and stops sticking to your hands or bounces off the walls of the bowl in the standing mixer. Cover the bowl and leave it in a warm place to double in volume, for about 90 minutes.

3. When risen, turn it out onto a well-floured surface. It can be shaped into a round loaf and baked just like that, or plaited. To make a plaited loaf, divide the dough into three pieces and shape them into ropes about 25cm long. Bunch them together at one end and plait the lengths, tucking the ends underneath the loaf when finished.

Plaiting a loaf

4. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Dabo can be baked straight on a baking tray but it helps keep the shape if it’s contained in a round tin or a clay cloche. In either case, place the plaited loaf into a well-floured container, or dip it in flour before transferring into the tin or cloche, otherwise it will stick awfully.

5. Mix the water with salt for the glaze and brush over the top of the loaf, making sure it doesn’t run down the sides and underneath (sticking hazard again). Sprinkle the fennel seeds over the top, let it prove for about 15-20 minutes and put in the oven (with the cloche lid on, if using, taking if off to let the bread brown after 30 minutes). Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until it’s nicely brown all over. Cool on a wire rack.

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