Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Almost Whole Wheat Pita Bread (About 9 1/2 hours with rising)

I found this recipe in the Washington Post on Sunday and decided I wanted to have homemade pita bread to go with store bought hummus (I'll make that from scratch when I get a food processor one day). The recipe said that it could be made with whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour. I've found that breads made only with whole wheat are very heavy so I decided to try it out with half whole wheat and half bread flour. I thought the bread flour would make a better pita as well - more gluten. That's what makes your bread chewy. Also, I didn't feel like baking these on Sunday night when I made the dough so I set them to rise in the refrigerator and baked them the next morning. Here's my recipe adapted from "The Arab Table" by May S. Bsisu.

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
1 ¼ teaspoons sugar
2 3/4 cups bread flour,plus extra for kneading
2 3/4 cups whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons olive oil

Combine yeast, 1 cup of the warm water and sugar in a small bowl and stir to dissolve. Set aside until mixture is foamy and doubled in size, about 10 minutes.

Sift flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Using your stand mixer and the dough hook, mix ingredients until dough pulls away form sides of the bowl, forming a ball.

Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Sprinkling as little flour on the dough and your hands as possible, knead the dough -- push, fold and turn -- about five minutes, until dough is smooth, elastic and doesn't stick to your fingers.

Coat a large bowl with remaining olive oil and place dough inside, turning to coat with the oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and set in the refrigerator 8 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, lightly dust a baking sheet and a kitchen towel with flour.

Punch dough and transfer to a floured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Divide dough into equal pieces (depends on the size pita you want), roll each one into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Working with 1 ball of dough at a time, flatten gently, using a rolling pin or your hands. Roll dough out until about ¼-inch thick. Lay loaves on floured towel, sprinkle flour on top, cover with a second towel, and let rest about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Preheat pizza stone* 10 minutes before ready to bake.
Arrange as many loaves as you can on pizza stone, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Bake until they puff up, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool; repeat.

Can be frozen in plastic zip bag and thawed in refrigerator. Reheat at 300 degrees for 10 minutes.

* If you don't have a pizza stone, a cookie sheet should be fine instead but I would definitely preheat it just like the pizza stone.

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