20 June 2011

Oops, I (Didn't) Pop It Again

The one time I'm making bread that is supposed to pop, it doesn't. Or maybe it did and I missed it. Rotten luck, although tasty luck. I tried to make a pita pocket; I got something like a flatbread that I then formed a pocket in by jamming a knife into it. Turns out making something that tastes like a pita from scratch is pretty easy, and if you've got ~2 hours lead time on your meal that needs pitas, I would go for it. Although if the weather gods are smiling and the temperature is reaching 80, hotter inside of course, you may want to hold off on it. A 500 degree oven isn't the best thing for staying cool.
In addition to the pita, we've got a fairly standard "greek" plate - tomato, cucumber, eggplant hummus, and grilled cheese (not the sandwich kind). I can't remember the brand name of cheese I use to grill - it is, roughly, a feta that browns when you cook it in a pan or grill it. It doesn't need any oil, and it is wonderfully delicious. The pita recipe below is adapted from The Bread Baker's Apprentice lavash cracker recipe, which it recommends as pita dough as well.
Light Wheat Pita
Makes a single pita, takes ~2 hours from start to eat
1/2 cup flour, about 33% whole wheat bread flour and 66% unbleached bread flour
scant 1/4 tsp salt
scant 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp honey
1 tsp olive oil
pinch of fennel
pinch of cumin
2 tbsp + 1 tsp water, potentially another tsp more.

In a small bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Add in the honey, olive oil, and water, and stir by hand with a spoon for a minute. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes. The dough should have some stretch in it, but won't pass the windowpane test (unless you use a bit more water, or use 100% unbleached bread flour instead of mixing in some whole wheat). Form the dough into a ball, lightly oil it, and let rest, covered, for 90 minutes at room temperature.

Give your oven enough time to preheat to 500 degrees and, if you have a baking stone or a cast iron pan, let that preheat as well. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into, roughly, a pita shape. Place it on parchment paper and transfer to the baking stone/iron pan, or if you have neither put it on a baking sheet.

The book recommended cooking until the instant at which the pita "pops", waiting 10 seconds, and removing from oven. My oven doesn't have a window on it, so I had to guess. 8 minutes was too long. If you let it cook too long, don't worry - it will be slightly crispy compared to a pita, but you can still murder it into having a pocket-like cavity within which to hide delicious morsels. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes, then cut off a sliver from the top and spread it open.

If you want to make more, know that the recipe as prescribed (and then thirded by me) asked for 1/6 tsp of salt and yeast, not the "scant 1/4 tsp" I have listed above. But, as I've never seen a 1/6 tsp measure before, and I didn't feel like solving a logic puzzle to measure out 1/6 tsp using a 1/4 tsp and a 1/3 tsp (you can do it in two measures, so I guess I did feel like solving it), you can just fake it.


  1. I was happy with my pita experiment http://oedelicious.blogspot.com/2011/01/pitas.html

  2. Yours look much more pocket-y. This dough was very much on the dry side and is intended for cracker-ish things. I think I'll try your recipe next time to see how light they turn out.