Bread Challenge, Week 2: Whole Wheat Pita
This is a recipe that I originally printed out in 2009, and just finally got around to making. The printout has been banging around my kitchen for more than two years, and has become stained with food and other debris in the shuffle. I don’t have any idea what kept me from making it, but I’m glad the paper blew into my line of vision.
I am a huge fan of whole wheat pita – I love making my own pita chips, and I also love just eating plain old wedges with hummus, olives and feta cheese (my all-time favorite lunch combination) . I suppose you could use them for sandwiches, but I can never seem to keep from punching holes in them while stuffing them. Which of course renders them useless as food vessels. So, I’m content to eat them dipped and unstuffed.
This recipe came from Cooking Light magazine (best food mag out there, with Cook’s Illustrated coming in a close second), March 2009 issue (so, yikes, I’ve had that recipe for almost THREE years! Now, I’m REALLY surprised I didn’t lose it). The pitas came out fairly well. I do think it’s a recipe I’d have to try again a few time before getting the hang of it.
Recipe, results, and photos after the jump. As usual, my notes are in blue.
Fresh Whole-Wheat Pitas
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 pita)
Recipe from Cooking Light magazine, March 2009 (click the link to get a printable version)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 package dry yeast (about 2 ¼ teaspoons)
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (100° to 110°)
- 10 ounces bread flour (about 2 ¼ cups)
- 4 ¾ ounces white whole-wheat flour (about 1 cup), divided (King Arthur Flour makes a great version)
- 2 tablespoons 2% Greek-style yogurt (I only had nonfat, which seemed to work just fine)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- Olive oil cooking spray
Dissolve sugar and yeast in 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add bread flour, 3 ounces (about ¾ cup) whole-wheat flour, yogurt, oil, and salt to the yeast mixture; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead dough until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of remaining whole-wheat flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands – dough will feel sticky. (I really had to restrain myself from adding more flour at this point – the dough was stickier than I am used to. It was difficult, but I decided to trust the recipe.)
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
Position the oven rack on the lowest shelf. Preheat the oven to 500°.
Divide dough into 8 portions. Working with one portion at a time, gently roll each portion into a 5 ½-inch circle.
Place 4 dough circles on each of 2 baking sheets heavily coated with cooking spray. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, at 500° for 8 minutes or until puffed and browned. Cool on a wire rack. (These really only need about 5-6 minutes to bake. The first few that I baked for 8 minutes nearly burned. Best just to watch).
- I was mesmerized watching the dough puff up inside the oven. It was like watching a balloon magically inflate! I tried to catch a video, but the oven was too hot to hold the camera in front for more than a second or two.
- Mixed results; some puffed up, some didn’t (the ones on the right side of the oven puffed; must be a temperature variant within my oven). The ones that didn’t puff up didn’t form an actual “pocket”, so they’re really only useful for dipping. The taste was good, though. Very different texture than store-bought whole wheat pitas; store-bought ones are more grainy, and these were more chewy.
- As you might notice in the photo gallery below, I used a baking stone in my oven. I baked the first four this way (slapping the dough onto the stone, and leaving it in there between batches), and then removed the stone and used a nonstick cookie sheet for the last four. The cookie sheet pitas turned out better, with no burning or “hotspots” that appeared on the bottom of the stone-baked ones. I was honestly disappointed with that – I was hoping that a more authentic baking method would yield better results.
- They taste pretty darned good dipped in my homemade white bean hummus! Now, I’m off to find some olives.