Friday, February 3, 2012

Whole Wheat Homemade Pita Bread

Earlier this week I shared my recipe for roasted red pepper hummus.  Hummus just has to be eaten with pita bread.  Pita is a soft, chewy, circle of pure bread goodness.  And if you are having pita bread, it might as well be homemade!

When I made my hummus, I thought about going to the store to buy some pita bread, but then I thought better of it.  A quick internet search lead me to this recipe for homemade pita bread.  It had me at whole wheat!  I am gradually getting over my fear of yeast breads, so I set out to make my own pita bread.  I am so full of good ideas!

I was really surprised at how easy this was to make.  It only requires a few minutes of kneading, and only one rise instead of the usual two.  Once I made it that far, I was afraid I would have trouble rolling the dough into rounds.  I've been known to have some technical difficulties with stuff like that!  No worries necessary--this dough was really easy to work with.  After a short 5 minutes in the oven, I had myself some fantastic, fresh, homemade pita bread.  I took a bite of one right out of the oven and instantly knew I was never going to buy pita bread from the store again. 

This is too easy to not make.  No excuses!  So to start, dissolve your yeast and sugar into water that has been heated to about 110 degrees.
While the yeast is feasting on the sugar and producing its famous bubbly, mix some whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, and salt in a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer.
After about 10 minutes, your yeast mixture will be ready.  I love that great yeasty smell!
Add some olive oil to the yeast mixture and give it a little stir.
Now add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and stir until it starts to come together.
Add additional flour, a half cup at a time, until the dough is soft, but still a little sticky.  I added an additional half cup of all-purpose flour, and one cup of whole wheat flour.  Use as much flour as needed.  Knead the dough until it is soft and elastic and place it in a greased bowl.  As usual, I used my measuring cup.  Put the dough in a warm place and let it rise for 1-2 hours.  I like to run my microwave for maybe 15 seconds to warm it up and put my dough in it.  I let my dough rise for 1 1/2 hours (enough time to do a Zumba class on my Wii and shower--perfect!).
Presto, change-o, here's your dough!
Dump it out onto a lightly floured surface.
Form a loaf-ish shape.
And cut it into 6 equal-ish pieces.  Those didn't look very equal.  I took a little from the rich and gave to the poor.
Then form each piece into ball and shape 6-inch rounds.  My original recipe said to roll them out, but I found it a lot easier to just use my hands and stretch it out kind of like a pizza dough.  It was really simple, and you get to play with your food.  I think forming dough is as close to playing with Play-doh as is socially acceptable for an adult.
When I had two rounds formed, I placed them on an ungreased baking sheet (they didn't stick!) and baked them for 5 minutes while I formed two more, and kept going until I had baked them all. 

To sum up, these are easy to make, consist of simple ingredients, and are amazingly delicious.  Please, please, make them!

Whole Wheat Homemade Pita
1 1/8 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar.  Stir and let sit for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add 1/2 cup each of the whole wheat and all-purpose flour, and the salt.  Stir to combine.
When yeast mixture is bubbly, stir in the olive oil, then mix into the dry ingredients.  Turn your mixture on low and mix until the dough starts to come together.  Continue to add additional flour, by a half cup, to the dough until it forms a ball and is easily kneaded with your dough hook, or by hand.  The dough should be a little sticky, and not too dry.  You may not need to use all the flour.
Place the dough into a greased bowl and cover loosely.  Let it rise for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Place dough onto a floured surface and punch it down.  Then shape and stretch it into a loaf shape.  Cut into 6 equal sections.  Form each section into a ball and roll out into a round shape, about 6 inches in diameter.  Set the dough rounds onto a plate and cover with a wet cloth to prevent drying. 
When you have finished two rounds, place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.  Continue forming the others while the two are baking.  When pitas have baked, cover with a damp cloth to steam them.

Recipe adapted from Sweet and Savory by Sarah

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