7 February 2007

Whole wheat pita bread

Coming up soon - Red bean dip to go with the pita breads!

The satisfaction of seeing some smelly yeast and lifeless flour turn into a bunch of sweet smelling bread is something you must experience to understand. Sometimes, the laziness of getting out of a cozy home into the supermarket can lead to some heart warming things. I'm talking about this bunch of pita bread. It's not that I've not played around with yeast before. While foodies from US and Europe talk of fresh yeast, instant yeast and active dry yeast, I have access only to one kind of yeast - Active dry yeast granules - the brownish coloured beads whose efficiency is highly unpredicatble.

My last baking attempt ended with a smelly creamish slurry in the bowl, no bubbles, no foam, nothing. Probably because the yeast had been sitting in the refrigerator. This time I didn't want to make any mistakes. The yeast was bought fresh (as fresh as a store can sell), stored in a cabinet, used in a water that was just warm and kept in the sun. The result being a really foamy, happy yeast. With the soaring yeast, my anticipations of making some fresh bread soared too. Here are the step by step instructions with pictures to making your own batch of pita bread.

The basic recipe is from my all time favourite baking resource - Baking Sheet and Nicole's reference to Tyler Florence's Food 911 show. I made just half the recipe and used mostly whole wheat flour.

Whole wheat Pita bread

Category - Yeast breads
Time taken - Roughly two hours including rising time
Makes - 6 pieces
Recipe source - Adapted from Baking Sheet, Food Network

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (atta)
1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1-2 tsp of oil


active yeastActivate the yeast - Slightly warm 3/4 cup water with 1/2 tsp sugar. Put in the yeast granules and keep in the warmest corner of your house. You can keep it in the microwave / oven. If the yeast is active, in 15 minutes, you will see furious activity in the bowl. The top layer will be all foamy and bubbly. The yeast is now ready to get into the flour.

dough before risingIn a large bowl, mix the flours with the salt lightly with a fork. Make a well in the center and pour the yeasty water. Bind the flour into a smooth dough with the poured liquid by kneading with the heel of your palm for some 5 minutes, just like you would for chapati aata.

dough after risingIn a well oiled bowl, place the smooth ball of dough, cover and place in a warm corner for 1-1 1/2 hours until the dough is over double the volume.

balls of dough after sitting for 15 minutesPunch down the dough and place it on a floured surface. Remove all air from the dough with a good bit of kneading. Shape into 6 equal balls. Flatten them slightly and keep them a little away from each other on a greased plate. Keep covered for 15-30 minutes until they rise some more.

Keep a large, heavy bottomed griddle on high flame. With a rolling pin, roll out each ball into ovals, about the thickness of 1/4". Use a bit of AP flour for dusting if needed. On the hot griddle, cook both sides of the bread, until it fluffs up. This will take 3-4 minutes per bread. If you use a large griddle, you will be able to cook 2-3 of them at a time.

Place the cooked breads on a clean kitchen towel. Keep covered so that the breads are soft until use.

The original recipe recommends broiling the rolled out dough for 3-4 minutes until they fluff up in the oven. Since I have the counter top oven, these were done on the griddle and this method worked perfectly too.

Pita bread either toasted into chips or just as it is, is best used to mop up hummus, baba ganouj or a red bean dip. If you want to make this mezze meal for dinner, you'll find recipes for Hummus, Baba Gannoush and Fattoush (Lebanese salad) on Saffron Trail.

The red bean dip is coming up soon, so stay tuned!

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Mallugirl said...

I too love the fresh baked smell. i had tried making it once but though it tasted good, the texture was too hard. will definitely try again with ur clear recipe.

lalitha said...

WOW!Have never had home made pita bread always store bought.Looks warm and delicious.

Mishmash ! said...

Hi Nandita, my first time here and I enjoyed reading ur blog ; U have a way with words . Loved Ur card with quotes from Sri Aurobindo ; I knew for sure its from Aurobindo before I finished reading it...quite enlightening words , huh ?


Latha said...

Hey Nandita,
It looks so simple when you make it! I appreciate your 'just do it' attitude! I love Pita bread with Hummus and veggie! Makes a wholesome meal..
Have you tried Baked Pita chips?? They're a great low-fat snack. I buy the Stacy's brand of Pita chips. I'm sure you'll find it one of the supermarkets in Mumbai!

The TriniGourmet said...

i only keep my dry yeast in the fridge it keeps forever that way (i've found) .. maybe your water was too warm? i only ever use tap water :) i'm gonna add pita to my must-try list now :)

Sig said...

Hey Nandita, Haven't visited your blog in a while. Great posts, you take some great pictures too!
Home made Pita breads, that shows how great a foodie you are! I can't bake, and I can never get myself to even try and make bread :-)

Anita said...

About the yeast: I too have had some disappointments with the small packages of yeast in the market. But that was a long time ago. Now I use the 'imported' kind (what else can we do). I think it is a Russian brand , very reasonably priced, and keeps forever in the fridge. My local grocer repackages it into small for resale. But since it doesn't seem to go bad, I prefer to stock up with the giant 1 lb bag.

Let me know if you can't find it at your local shop.

Dr. Nandita Iyer said...

A - You mean I ask my local kirana shop? I have my doubts that he'd have even heard about it...if you can send me a few 100gms I shall be grateful! This blue bird brand is a guess i have to take each time, aaya toh theek hai - something like that...this time it fluffed beautifully

jacob said...

that looks so yum and intimidatingly good. i'm just figuring out the basics of baking. and you mean buddy guy was in mumbai. damn...i'm so envious. was he good? of course he was, what a stoopid question.

Gattina said...

What a batch of beautiful pita bread! I always use active dry yeast as the stores here don't sell very fresh fresh yeast, wish I could try and see another result.

jaii and bee said...

nice looking pitas, those. thanks for linking us, nandita.


Spicelover said...

Nice pitas.
I have to try making naans first. somehow pitas sound too complicated. My favorite homemade sandwich in the US used to be with stuffed pita bread. Oh I miss that.

Linda said...

I freak out on pita breads..nice read your post on that!! Cheers!!Linda

Maheswari said...

Hey whole wheat pita..wow..looks great..never bsked it myself ..always store brought..will try now with your recipe.Waiting for that bean dip.
New template looks great and ..those guys at hackosphere are awesome..very good hacks...

Priya said...

Hey Nandita,
I couldn't help showing you this. Snow in Upstate NewYork Funny we spoke abt the snow and I was complaining abt the 6 inches we had here!!

Anupama said...

Hi after a long time Nandita. I have been back for some time now but haven't managed to cook anything exciting as yet. It was nice to see all the flavours on your blog that I have missed for almost a month now.

ad said...

Liked the recipe a lot when I made it three weeks ago. Almost went mad trying to find it again on the web..fortunately hadn't deleted the cache and could check for it on the history page!

aparna said...

I tried this recipe and the breads were excellent. Its very easy to make and healthy too. Thanks Nandita. Ive also tried the naan recipe in the video section. Those turned out great too.

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