Monday, February 8, 2010

Excuse me, there's a hole in my bread!

"What do you want to eat for lunch today?"
That's the million dollar question that I ask myself every single day. At this rate, I'll become the world's fastest self-made billionaire/trillionaire/whatever-aire if I get a million dollars every time I ask this question. Now wait, that wouldn't be so bad now would it? Right.

Ever since the end of last year, when I was studying for my A levels, I had to eat lunch fast in order to continue studying. So when I went to the supermarket with my family one weekend as we were doing our weekly marketing, I noticed the bread section had pitas, tortilla wraps etc. Being a bread-lover, I decided to eat pita bread stuffed with ham/fruits/whatever I could find in the fridge for lunch during the weekdays. I never looked back.

Having extra time on my hands to spare now, I decided to attempt making my beloved pita bread. Making your own bread from scratch is just so satisfying. It's a different kind of satisfaction from normal baking I realised. Maybe because this is a staple? Well you can't possibly grow rice in your backyard can you? Unless of course you're a farmer, then I've got nothing to say.

Pita Bread
adapted from straightfromthefarm
makes about 10 5-6" pitas (or 8 6" pitas)

2 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tbsp EVOO
about 1 cup warm water
extra flour for dusting

1. Sift the flours and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and the yeast.

2. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients then add the oil and about 3/4 cup of the water. Mix to form a soft dough (if it doesn't come together at first, add a little more water).

3. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead for about 5min until the dough is smooth and elastic. In the meanwhile, clean the large bowl and lightly spray with oil. Place the dough inside and cover with a damp tea towel. Let it rise in a warm, draught-free, place until doubled in size. It would take about an hour.

4. Punch down the dough to release the air and divide into 8 equal pieces (I divided it into 10 unequal pieces). Shape them into balls and roll out eat one into a circle about 1/4 inch thick.

5. Place the rounds on greaseproof/parchment paper and cover with oiled cling film. Let them rise for 20-30min. While waiting for your pita rounds to rise, preheat the oven to 230C and place your baking tray inside the oven, lined with greaseproof/parchment paper at the same time. You can make the pitas in batches.

6. Place 2-3 pita rounds on each tray and bake for 6-9min or until the pita rounds are puffed up and golden brown.

7. Cool the pita rounds slightly then cover with a clean tea towel to keep them warm and soft until served. Alternatively, you can wait for the pita rounds to cool completely then freeze them between sheets of greaseproof/parchment paper. These store for up to two days well wrapped or frozen for three weeks.

Just thaw the pitas and reheat in a toaster oven whenever you want to eat them!

Note: It is important for the oven and the baking tray to be hot so that the pitas will puff up and form a pocket inside!

Notice that my pictures only show 7 pita pockets when I made 10? Well, I've got a gross confession - I burnt my first batch of 3 pitas.

It can only be blamed on my poor memory because I thought they were to be baked for 10-15 min and only started watching at the 10th minute! They became rock-hard and dry, almost like pita chips actually. Mom and sis loved it though, much to my amazement. I didn't. Why? Because I like my bread soft. Yup, soft and chewy bread's my kryptonite.

It's really burnt at some parts, see?? :(
So take a leaf from my book and remember your baking times. You wouldn't want to end up with bad pitas.

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