Glystarkes or glistarkes or gyristarkes, from the Greek verb γυρίζω = turn, is a kind of Cypriot grid-like crusty, sesame rusk.
The bread sticks are dipped into sesame seeds and then they are shaped beginning with a cross (as it had a religious meaning as well) and then other bread sticks are added round the cross and baked.
They were used during old traditions in villages, where the bride’s family would invite guests to the wedding and hand a glistarka as an invitation or as part of the decoration of pumpkin or dried gourds (krasokoloka) which were used as wine containers during wedding ceremonies.
These gourds were hand crafted and elaborately decorated for special occasions.
The traditional glystarkes were made with only bread flour and fresh yeast, white sesame seeds and had a flavour of cinnamon, cloves, mastic and anise.
The first time I made them with the traditional ingredients and were shaped the traditional way.
How to shape Glystarkes
Shape the dough into a long piece of dough about 5 cm thick and then cut about 30 even pieces.
Roll each piece into a thin stick (the thinner the better) about 15 cm long. Quickly bathe it in water and then into the sesame seeds or spice mixture.
Put the sticks together to form an X and then put two more sticks to form into rays.
Prepare two more sticks, one small and a larger one.
Lift the sticks and place the smaller one, forming a small circle. Then add the bigger one around the edges.
Place on parchment paper and bake until golden.
They were quite close to the taste I remembered.
This is a twist of my own to the original recipe.
In order to make them much healthier, I added whole wheat flour, demerera sugar and salt substitute, for mine.
I liked them but the rest of the family wanted them more salty, so I added some coarse sea salt in the spice mixture for theirs.
Since then, I have made them many times, either as mini glystarkes or shaped like grissini in order to know which flavour was in each kind.
I’ve also made a lot of combinations of spices mixed in the sesame seeds and they are so addictive you can’t just eat one of these crunchy bites.
Combination of spices:
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 tablespoon black or brown mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon various peppers, black, green, pink and white
- 2 tbsp poppy seeds
The recipe is included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!
In some of them I also mixed in some grated halloumi.
For the dough:
- 250 grams (8.8 oz) bread flour
- 100 grams (3.5 oz) all purpose flour
- 30 grams (1 oz) fresh yeast or (8 grams – 0.28 oz) dry yeast
- 1 cube (4 grams – 0.14 oz) demerara sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 145 grams sesame seeds
- Combine flour, baking powder, salt and olive oil. Put yeast and sugar cube in the water and stir until dissolved, let stand for a couple of minutes to bubble. Add the yeast to the flour and mix with the dough paddle until the dough does not stick on your hands. If it does, add more flour.
- Remove dough from the bowl and add 1 tablespoon olive oil and wet the dough. Cover with cling film and a kitchen napkin and leave it to rise for about half an hour in a warm place.
- Grind spices in a spice grinder on use a mortar and pestle. Mix with the sesame seeds and poppy seeds.
- Preheat oven to 180o C / 350o F.
- Shape the dough into a long piece of dough about 5 cm thick and then cut about 30 even pieces.
- Roll each piece into a thin stick (the thinner the better). Quickly bathe it in water and then into the sesame-spice mixture.
- Shape them as above or any other shape you like and place them on a tin lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes.
- Store in air tight containers.
! Combination of spices used:
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon black or brown mustard seeds
1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tablespoon various peppers, black, green, pink and white
2 tbsp poppy seeds
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 435Total Fat 18gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 14gCholesterol 0mgSodium 652mgCarbohydrates 56gFiber 9gSugar 1gProtein 16g
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!