Shamsy bread (Sun bread) is one of the traditional types of bread baked specially in Upper Egypt, and part of the traditional diet of the region. It is baked in rural houses by women, and requires skill and cleverness in preparation, as well as patience and physical strength.  It is made to be preserved for fairly long periods of time. The baking process lasts for two days, starting from mixing ingredients, and finishing with its final baked form. The bread takes the shape of thick discs, and it is the only kind of Egyptian bread that is left under the sun for it to rise. Its main components are flour, yeast, water, and salt.

Process of making it:

  1. Tarbeyet al-Khameera (Preparing the yeast): The yeast used in this bread is called Hetella, and is described as self-raising. It is basically a piece of yeast preserved from previous dough and kept in a dry and well ventilated place. The Hetella is put in hot water to dissolve, and then mixed with the flour in a bowl. The bowl is covered by a piece of cloth, and left for four hours in summer, or eight in winter. Salt is not used in this yeast.
  2. Al-‘Agn (Kneading): Water and salt are added to the previous mixture, the water is added gradually while kneading until the desired elasticity is achieved.
  3. Al-Taqrees (Shaping/Cutting the dough): The dough is cut on a surface covered with bran to prevent it from sticking, then shaped and patted in the desired form (discs). The sides of the bread are pierced using palm leaf, or branch, or a pin, and then left to rest in the air on specifically made discs for this bread called Maqares.
  4. Al-Takhmeer (Leaving the dough to rise): The bread is put in the sun and left to rise. This process takes between one to four hours depending on the weather. The bread is turned over to continue rising for a couple of more minutes.
  5. Al-Tasweyah (Baking): The bread is organized on the base of the oven, either by hand (for near areas), or using Matraha (for further areas of the oven), and when done, it is drawn out again using the Matraha.

Matraha is a circular tool with short or long handle that is made of wood or palm leaves, used for throwing the bread in the oven.

Samih Abd al-Ghaffar Sha’lan, Bread in folklore, A study in Folkloric Atlases, Ain for human and social studies and researches.
Nahla Emam, Atlas of Egyptian Folklore.