Friday, 5 September 2008

Bread Baking Babes and Buddies: Country-Style Whole-Wheat Pita

When it comes to the realm of food challenges, I am the perpetual little sister who runs behind the big kids, begging to play along. I shamelessly want to play all the cool games, whether I know the rules or not. After watching the Bread Baking Babes for months, I have decided to play along. The Babes are a closed group but are open to entertaining a few Buddies.

Sort of a never a bride, always a bridesmaid thing.

This month's bread, introduced by Ilva of Lucullian Delights, is Country Style Whole-Wheat Pita from Beth Hensperger's The Bread Bible.

sixteen 6-inch round flatbreads
I left the instructions as Ilva wrote them as they have some good tips in them.

600 ml/ 2 1/2 cups warm water (40,5-46 degrees C/ 105 to 115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast ( Ilva used 12 g fresh yeast)
pinch of sugar
60 ml/ 1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
700 ml/ 3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (Lien suggested running it in a blender/mixer for a couple of minutes to make normal whole-wheat flour finer and it worked well)
700-820 ml/ 3 to 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1. Allow yeast to dissolve with sugar in half cup water with sugar if using active dry yeast. Mix with flour if using instant yeast.

2. With paddle attachment if using mixer or just a bowl if mixing by hand: combine remaining water (all water if using instant yeast), olive oil, salt and whole-wheat pastry flour. Mix until creamy.Half a cup all purpose unbleached flour at a time, mix to a soft, shaggy dough is clearing the sides of a bowl.

3. Knead by mixer or hand forming soft, springy, moist and smooth dough. Add smaller and smaller amounts of flour for the last cup of flour to avoid adding too much flour. Finally the dough will spring back when pressed.

4. Lightly oil surface of dough and place in lightly sprayed container. Let rise until doubled in size: anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.

5. Oven pre-heated to 475 ° F with a baking stone set on the bottom rack. Pita may be baked on parchment paper on baking sheets or directly on hot baking stone. Divide dough in half, return half to bowl and cover. Again divide dough into 8 equal pieces and form into ball. Cover, allowing to rest while forming the other half of dough. Dust bench with whole-wheat pastry flour, roll each ball into a 6-inch circle (may need an additional 5 or 10 minutes to relax gluten if dough resists rolling). Let rest on peel or floured dish towel or parchment paper, covered until puffy, about 15 to 20 minutes.

6. Baking time: 10 to 15 minutes (on parchment paper baking sheet will take longer than on stone). Do not check and open oven door for the first 4 minutes! Pita are done when fully puffed and light brown. Stack puffed hot pita between clean dish towels.

VARIATION: Sprinkle with seeds or roll balls in seed and roll into dough before baking. Do not use bread flour as it makes pita tough. Try substituting 1/3 cup different flours (soy, chestnut, barley, brown rice) for the same amount of w-w pastry flour.

The pita puffed up beautifully on my bread stone. They were delish for sandwiches and very impressive looking, I thought. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Yes, they like me, they really like me!