Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Whole wheat pita bread

I am always, always disappointed in supermarket pita bread. Even if you bite into your pita the moment you pick it up off the shelf at the store, it already tastes a couple of days old (and likely is!). I spotted a recipe for pita bread a couple of months ago, tried to make it, and was disappointed when it came out dense and sort of gross and heavy. But I am not one to quit, and today I tried again. And it was glorious.

In the same way that I always talk about how cool it is to watch bagels poof up when you boil them just before baking them, making pita bread is awesome because it is so cool to watch it balloon up like a bag of popcorn in the oven. I have no idea that the "pockets" in pitas are not man made, they occur entirely of their own volition. It is truly magical to watch the blow up like they do! And it is even more magical to rip them up when they're hot right out of the oven, and dip them straight into some hummus and devour them.

These pitas came out so light and lovely that Graeme and I could not stop eating them. I made them almost entirely out of whole wheat flour, so I was very pleased to see that they came out so light, and I'm excited to add a whole wheat bread recipe to my repertoire. I wouldn't see any advantage to making this with white flour.

I'll be baking up a couple of batches for the farmers' market this weekend, so I look forward to watching them go crazy in the over again!

The Recipe:

3/4 cup white flour
2.5-3 cups wholewheat flour
1 (7g) packet of instant dry active yeast
1 tblsp honey
1 tsp salt
1.5 tblsp oil
1.5 cups warm-hot water (should be warm enough that it'll stay warm for a little while, but not so hot that you can't rest your fingers comfortably in it)

Pour the water into a bowl, and mix in the honey until it disolves. Sprinkle in the yeast, stir a bit, and let it sit there for 10 minutes or so. The yeast should poof up and rise a bit--this means its been properly activated and that it will work.

Add in the salt, and mix in the flour, 1 cup or so at a time. I always prefer to mix with my hands, so that the transition from mixing, when everything is still liquidy, to kneeding, once the dough gets firmer, is effortless. Add in the oil as well, and once you've got a dough, turn it out onto a flat, floured surface, and kneed for 10 minutes. It should feel elastically, you should feel like your arms are tired.

Oil up a bowl, place the dough in it, and cover it with a damp, warm, wash cloth. Put the bowl somewhere warm and let it rise until its doubled in size, about a "Jewish hour" (ie a bit longer than an hour, go by your intuition not by these goyishe things known as "clocks"). Once your dough has risen all beautifully and you feel like a proud parent, remove the dough from the bowl, place it back down on the floured surface, and punch it down. Divide it in 8-10 pieces (depends on how big you want your pitas to be--I made 8 pieces, and they were huge!), make each piece into a nice little ball, and then cover with your damp washcloth and let them rise for another 20 minutes or so. Preheat your oven to 400F/205C, and stick your baking tray in there to heat up as well.

Once they've poofed up again, roll each ball out into a circle, or an oval, depending on which shape you prefer for a pita. They should be around 1/4-1/8" thick. Again, go by how thick or thin you like your pita!

Take out your baking tray and place the pitas on it and bake for approximately 4-5 minutes! Marvel at the poofiness, and devour while hot.

What is healthy about this recipe: What isn't? I'm so pleased to have been able to make such a delicious whole wheat pita bread--once you try this, you will never go back to the white variety!

What is seasonal about this recipe: Not really applicable.

What I learned from this recipe: That pita bread is awesome and the easiest ever bread to make and not to be feared.

What I will change next time: The bread came out so nice and fluffy, that I think I don't really need my crutch of adding a bit of white flour in there, to keep it from being heavy. I think I may try doing this 100% whole wheat.


robina said...

yay! can't wait to try this. i had never thought about making pita before.

tal said...

pita is so nice and easy to make! other versions: nava atlas & bakingsheet

Anna said...

Robina, you need to try it! It is the kind of thing you will go all gooey over, plus it's easy and fun to do. I hear homemade pita bread is good a must for little peanuts in the womb, too.

And Tal, yes! I feel like this is such a great new discovery. I had no idea it was so easy.

Sophie said...

We would like to feature this recipe on our blog. Please email sophiekiblogger@gmail.com if interested. Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

i just came to montreal from lebanon, and i got some pita bread but it tasted like crap.it turned out that all pita here is not good at all, so i decided to make my own bread..and thanks to your recipe, i feel just like at home!