Every week, a DIY expert spares us a trip to the grocery store and shows us how to make small batches of great foods at home.
There’s just something about making something completely from scratch that indescribably satisfies the at-home chef. While I've made my share of kitchen disasters, what keeps me cooking is the prideful moments of success -- like when I made homemade cannoli for the first time, or when a friend and I created our own Limoncello from scratch. Making your own bread definitely creates one of those moments in the kitchen when you really feel like you've accomplished something great. Pita bread is the perfect start in homemade bread-making. After making these pita pockets, you'll be moving on to homemade challah and braided sweet rolls in no time!
The recipe is quite simple and only takes about an hour. There are 4 steps in the process of making pita bread –- assembling the ingredients, forming and dividing the dough, rolling out dough into flat circles and letting it rise, then baking the dough. Then, magically, the little flat pancake-like rounds puff into perfectly round pitas. Then the only hard part is deciding what tasty ingredients to fill them with.
We ate the pitas filled with warm lamb meat balls and muhammara; a tasty walnut red pepper spread.
Here are some more ideas for using them:
• Slice them into wedges and dip into hummus or muhammara
• Make a sandwich with turkey or ham and veggies
• Fill with falafel or black bean burger patties
• Re-warm them in the oven and cover with honey, cinnamon and sugar for dessert
Once you make them, you’ll be finding all kinds of uses for them. Believe me -- they won’t be left around the kitchen long.
Whole Wheat Pita Bread
Makes 8 medium-sized pitas
1 tablespoon yeast
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
Dissolve yeast in water for about 5 minutes in the bowl of an electric mixer. Watch for yeast to bubble up, which will show that it's active.
Add salt and half of the flour, and beat with a dough hook to create a dough. Add additional flour until a rough, shaggy mass is formed. Knead for 8 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour if it is too sticky.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 balls for medium-sized pita bread.
Form dough into balls, and then flatten with a rolling pin into 1/4-inch thick discs. Try to keep an even thickness as this is what helps them "puff."
Let rest on the floured surface for 30 to 40 minutes until slightly puffed. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
With a large spatula, flip the rounds of dough upside down on to a baking sheet. Bake 10 to 15 minutes until light golden. Stick around to watch for the first five minutes of baking when the pitas perform their magic and puff up from flat pancakes to proud, four-inch-high pitas!
Note: Because you're using whole wheat flour, you may need more water. If you decide to use all-purpose flour for the whole recipe, use 1/2 cup more flour than the recipe calls for.
Like this post? See last week's Small Batch topic: Making Your Own Kimchi.
Photos by Becky Rosenthal