Tuesday, April 5, 2011
A series on bread...
This is the first of my ethnic bread posts.
I enjoy cooking food from all ethnic groups. Food is one thing we all have in common. And it's amazing that despite the miles that separate us and how different we all look, we all use most of the same ingredients.
Almost every culture has a bread. In the South it's biscuits, up North it's yeast rolls, Southwest/Mexico is tortilla, Mid-East/Mediterranean has pita, India has naan, the French have a bloody ton including French and croissants. The list goes on.
The art of making bread alluded me for years. I've made tons of it I've had to throw away, too embarrassed to allow anyone to eat it.
Recently I made some wheat pita for a friend. I had made some black-eyed pea curry, toor dal (a vegan Indian lentil dish), and hummus. You can't possibly have all that without good pita! ;)
What follows is how I make pita. I used half wheat, half white flour and honey instead of sugar.
This was my first time using this recipe. It turned out very well and was MUCH easier than the other recipe I use.
Equipment you'll need:
A medium/large mixing bowl
1 cup measuring cup
Liquid measuring cup
stone baking surface
Plain flour (all purpose)
Salt (I use Kosher)
Quick Rising yeast
To start, preheat your oven to the lowest "warm" setting it has. Mine will only go down to 170 degrees F. This is to let your dough rise.
A note about the recipe I'm using: it calls only for white flour. When using wheat flour, it absorbs liquids differently than white. Always add less flour when substituting wheat flour in a recipe, then adjust flour/liquid based on what results you need. You'll see in the pics...
In your mixing bowl, combine 1 cup white flour, 1 3/4 cups wheat flour:
Use this kind of yeast:
Add the yeast to the flours, just sprinkle it on top.
The most important thing when making breads with yeast...THE TEMP OF YOUR WATER! About 120 for this type of yeast, 1 1/8 cups:
The yeast should start to foam. That's how you know it's "alive."
Add the 1 1/2 tsp. honey:
Add 1 Tbsp olive oil:
Add 1 tsp salt:
Mix with a spoon until everything is incorporated. Dip your fingers into the dough. If it looks like this it's too sticky and needs more flour:
Add flour, 1 tbsp at a time and continue mixing until your dough comes together like this:
Then cover with a damp cloth and place in your over for at least 30 minutes, longer if you have time:
When you take it out it should have doubled to look like this:
Go ahead and preheat your oven to bake your pitas. Set it for 500 degrees F. You'll need to place your stone in the oven to preheat as well.
Now, turn your dough out of the bowl, onto a floured surface. I use my counter. Clean of course! ;)
To knead, with floured hands pick the dough up at a corner:
Fold the corner down:
Turn the dough and repeat. Do this for about 5 minutes. It's good exercise. :)
Now, roll the dough into a log:
Cut the log in half:
Cut each half in halves, etc., until you have 8 equal pieces (sorry it's blurry):
Now, with a rolling pin or with floured fingers, roll your dough out into circles as best you can, about 6 or 7 inches:
Carefully flip, with your hands, the pitas onto your stone. Let them cook for 3-4 minutes. They should puff:
Now you should have nice pitas! If they all puffed, you can stuff them. If they didn't, you can still use them for spreads like hummus or to make pizzas.
Other uses: These make excellent pizzas! Also, you can cut them into wedges, toss with olive oil, salt, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, bake at 350 for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and you have homemade pita chips!
Since they're made with wheat flour, it's a good idea to keep them in the fridge so they don't mold.
Make two batches at once. It doesn't take any more time than making 1 batch and you can freeze a batch for later. Then when you want one, just pull it out, pop in the microwave and you have a fresh baked pita!!