Pita bread

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With winter came a long period of inactivity on my blog. While, I have not been able to write about it much, it has been fun. Almost every other weekend, either we were hosting friends or getting invited to their places. Food was an integral part of this socializing. So I got several opportunities to experiment. Sometimes, it was a matter of recreating and perfecting an old special item. Sometimes, I dabbled in new cooking style. Sometimes, it was an effort to make something at home that I have often enjoyed eating outside.

Today’s post falls in that third category. I have immensely enjoyed Mediterranean food, since I first tasted it in various ‘Türkische Imbiss’ in Berlin. Thankfully, Michigan has not disappointed me either. Now and then, my husband and I go to the nearest middle-eastern eatery to enjoy shawarma, kebabs, falafel, and of course… a basket full of piping hot pita breads.

I really wanted to be able to make these breads from the mixed grain wheat flour I have at home, which I use for making Indian flatbreads of roti and parantha. After a few mistrials, I finally decided to try making those with the ‘boule’ master recipe, which I had used last year to bake bread loaves. I got this recipe in the book ‘Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day‘ by Jeff Hertzberg  and Zoë François. While it calls for unbleached, unsifted, all-purpose white flour, it has worked with my usual whole wheat/ multi-grain flours. So here is my way to pillowy and pliant pita flatbreads.

PITA FLATBREAD (WITH MULTIGRAIN WHEAT FLOUR)

Yields about 8-12 breads, depending on the size you roll.

Ingredients:

3 1/4 cups of multi-grain wheat flour, plus some more for dusting
1.5 cups of lukewarm water (only a tad more that body temperature)
1 sachet of yeast (roughly about 1 heap full of a tablespoon)
A pinch or two of salt
Method:

  1. Mix the yeast and salt in water. Let it proof for five minutes.
  2. Add the flour to this water and mix the dough with a spatula.
  3. If needed, with wet fingers, lightly mix the dough so that there are no dry patches. No kneading is necessary any further. It makes a rather shaggy loose kind of a dough, but that is what we want.
  4. Cover the dough with a loosely-fitted lid and let it rise for two hours.
  5. After the first rise, the dough can be used to make bread. Though, I like to refrigerate it overnight to make it more manageable.
  6.  To make pita, dust your platform and fingers with some dry  flour. Form a ball by pulling the top of dough to bottom repeatedly for about a minute or two.
  7. Divide it in smaller balls/ patties to make pitas.
  8. Dust a patty with dry flour and roll lightly to make a circle (width of which should never go less than 1/8th inch). Sprinkle with flour while rolling, whenever necessary.
  9. Heat a cooking pan/ griddle to medium-high heat and place a freshly rolled pita onto it.
  10. Wait till you see bubbles on the surface, and then flip it to another side.
  11. Now it will start puffing up. Lightly press bulging pita on all sides to make sure it gets baked uniformly.
  12. Flip more than once to get those nice brown spots on both the sides of flatbread.
  13. Remove from the pan and let it cool on rack
  14. Now, conquering the temptation to devour this soft bread right away, turn your attention to rest of the pitas to roll and bake 🙂

After cracking this perfect recipe for homemade pitas, the possibilities to use it are endless. We have so far enjoyed these with hummus, herbed yogurt dips, grilled tempeh, sautéed vegetables, and curries… oh and even, guacamole once. So go ahead and make your combos, with no further doubts!

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No-knead overnight dinner loaf

collage-1458750356395.jpgContinuing my experiments with home baking, now I wanted to try something that would take less investment of time and energy and can be incorporated in the daily rush. My evening are bit packed. It gets rather difficult to be able to bake the bread loaf after coming home. So I wondered if a bread dough could be left rising overnight and whether I could bake the roll on next morning.

From different forums on the web, I gathered that:

  1. Overnight rise would develop pleasant sour notes in the dough.
  2. Overnight rise dough should not contain easily perishable ingredients such as milk or other milk-based products.
  3. To err on the side of caution, one can always transfer the rising dough to refrigerator after first 2-hour rise.

I was not too concerned about the third point , because although receding, winter is still a strong presence here in Michigan at this time of the year. So I was sure that I can leave the dough at room temperature on the counter.

Yet knowing that the yeast will get a whole night to work (while I sleep!), I decided to:

  1. Not give an easy sugar to it in the form of cane sugar or maple syrup. Let it work on the flour alone.
  2. Use water at room temperature instead of lukewarm.

 

So here’s is the recipe, which uses only three ingredients.

NO-KNEAD OVERNIGHT BREAD

Serves: 2 dinner roles

INGREDIENTS

3 cups multigrain wheat flour
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1½ cups room temperature water

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine flour, yeast, and water in a large bowl.

Mix with spatula to form a moist shaggy dough. Due to high water content, it neand stir to combine.

Cover with a towel and let rise overnight, 8-18 hours.

The yeast will work on the sugars from the flour and in the morning you will find a bubbly risen dough.

Flour your hands and your work platform. Without kneading, gently roll and shape the dough to form a ball.

Divide it into two parts. Shape each part into a cylindrical roll like that of ciabatta.

Keep these two rolls in a baking sheet that has been sprayed with olive oil and a sprinkle of flour.

Covering with a kitchen towel, let the loaves rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 F.

At the time of baking, make a shallow cut on loaves with oiled serrated knife and give a coat of olive oil over the loaf surface. Sprinkle herbs or chili flakes (to your liking) and some loose flour.

Place the baking sheet at the center of the oven. Also keep another loaf pan or mini casserole with 2 cups of water separately, in a way that it doesn’t disturb the bread baking sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes, till the crust has browned.

After taking out the loaves, let them cool down a bit on the rack before cutting.

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Savor the aroma of a freshly baked bread before you break your first morsel!

Today, we had our loaves with the skillet scramble of eggplant and tomato on olive oil that was flavored with garlic, chili flakes, and some curry powder.