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
Activate 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.
In 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.
In 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.
Punch 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!
Technorati tags: yeast, pita bread, baba gannoush, hummus, mezze platter