Wednesday, March 31, 2010

For Pita Sake

I found this recipe for pita bread on the blog Bakin' and Eggs. The original recipe called for 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 2 cups of bread flour. I had the bread flour, but no whole wheat flour. I thought foolishly enough that I would swap out the wheat for all purpose.

As I was kneading the dough I kept wondering why it was so sticky and difficult. Duh. Whole wheat flour is a much drier flour. Don't make the same mistake that I did and swap out the two different flours. You'll probably end up being an unhappy camper like I was.

The directions say to place the rolled out disks of dough directly onto the oven rack. I did this with the first one and it just oozed through the rack and onto the oven floor. No good. I imagine that it was because the dough was too wet.

Mrblocko suggested that we cover the oven rack with foil. (Ideas like this are why I really keep him around, but shhh...don't tell him that.) This worked great. No gloopy pita dough on the oven floor.

The bread was taking forever to cook though. I'm sure this was due to the water content in the dough. I cranked the heat up to 550 degrees and baked the pitas for 5 minutes on each side. The pitas never got that nice golden hue, and they didn't puff up as much as I thought they should have.
Once the pitas were cooked enough, they were quite tasty. Blockette even asked for a PPPBJ (Pita Pocket Peanut Butter Jelly) the next day for lunch. I'll be making these again, but not until I get some Whole Wheat flour.

Whole wheatish Pita Bread from Bakin' and Eggs
1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/4 cups warm water (105–115 degrees F), divided
2 cups bread flour or high-gluten flour, plus additional for kneading
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Cornmeal for sprinkling baking sheets

In a large bowl, stir yeast, honey and 1/2 c warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 5 min. If mixture does not foam, start over with new yeast. While yeast mix stands, stir flours in another bowl. Whisk 1/2 c flour mix into yeast mix til smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free/warm place (I like to use my oven – I turn it on for about a minute to get it warm – about 80-82F and then turn it off and place dough in oven) til doubled in bulk and bubbly, 45 min.

Stir in oil, salt, remaining 3/4 c warm water and remaining 2 1/2 c flour mix til dough forms. Either turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead, working in just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, or use a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and on low speed to knead until dough is smooth and elastic, 8-10 min. Form dough into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in draft-free/warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Prepare 2 baking sheets by sprinkling with cornmeal. Punch down dough and cut into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball, flatten the ball and then roll out into a 7-inch round on floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Transfer round to prepared baking sheet. Make 7 more rounds in same manner, arranging them on baking sheets. Loosely cover pitas with clean kitchen towels (not terry cloth) and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Adjust oven rack to the lower third of oven and remove other racks (I left the other racks). Preheat oven to 500F. Transfer 4 pitas, 1 at a time, directly onto oven rack (alternatively, I think you could bake these on a preheated baking stone so they don’t get wire marks from the oven). Bake until puffed and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over with tongs and bake 1 minute more.

Cool pitas on a cooling rack 2 minutes, then stack and wrap loosely in a kitchen towel to keep pitas warm. Bake remaining 4 pitas in same manner. Serve warm.

Yield: 8 pitas

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