Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Whole Wheat Pita Bread

Due in part to the large amounts of hummus (this week's flavor was roasted red pepper) we consume on a weekly basis, we also eat a good amount of pita bread.  Usually the stuff from the market does the trick, but since it was also the accompaniment to the Vegetable Chickpea Curry, I wanted to try something a little bit better. 

This isn't a difficult recipe, but it does take a few hours for rising time, so I'd recommend it for a weekend.  In my case I needed to wait until I had help at home, because invariably every time I got my hands covered with flour and dough the baby wanted something, and I drop enough crumbs on him as it is. 

Thicker and fluffier than store-bought pitas, these were the perfect doughy scoop along with the curry. Mine didn't puff into pockets, but they were easy enough to separate the layers if you want to make a sandwich. 

Whole Wheat Pita Bread
recipe from Epicurious

1 (1/4 oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon honey or sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
2 cups bread flour, plus additional for kneading
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Cornmeal for sprinkling baking sheets

In a large bowl, stir together yeast, honey and 1/2 cup warm water.  Let stand until foamy and bubbly, about 5 minutes.  If nothing happens, try again with new yeast.

Stir together flours in a separate bowl.
Whisk 1/2 cup flour mixture into yeast mixture until smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at warm room temperature until doubled in size and bubbly, about 45 minutes.
Stir in oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup water and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead, using additional flour as necessary to prevent sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).  Call this your arm workout for the day.
Form dough into a ball and put into a large bowl with olive oil.  Turn to coat the dough completely in oil.  
Cover the bowl with plastic rise and allow to sit at warm room temperature to rise to double in size. This takes about 1 hour, but you can leave it longer depending on your timing.
Punch risen dough down and cut into 8 equal pieces.
Form each dough into a ball and roll out to about 7 inches.  Transfer to a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal.  You can fit 4 pieces of dough on a baking sheet, so you'll need two.
Loosely cover pitas with 2 clean kitchen towels (not terry cloth or they will stick), and allow to stand for 30 minutes.
Set oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees.
Transfer pitas from the baking sheet onto the oven rack. You can fit four on the rack at a time.
Bake for 2 minutes, use tongs to turn them over, and bake 2 minutes more.
These keep well wrapped in foil in the fridge.  Reheat them before serving.


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