I have been really keen to use this blog as a space to experiment and to explore what I am capable of in the kitchen. I feel The Little Plantation is the perfect excuse to step out of my comfort zone and just go for it, like this delicious home-made pita bread. If I can’t be a daredevil in real life, I better be one in cyberspace, right?
My biggest fear has always been baking bread. I know it’s a bit ridiculous but I just never knew how or where to start and frankly I thought all that kneading business looked rather complicated. Plus I believed that you needed lots of patience (something I lack) and heaps of time (something I never have enough of) (SPOILER ALERT: I was right, you need both but it’s totally worth it and it ain't as bad as it sounds).
So, instead of making my own bread I’ve just popped into the supermarket and bought the best loaf I could find. But deep down inside of me I’ve always known that there is so much I am missing out on by going down that easy route. One of my yoga students put it really poignantly, she said: ‘We all originate from a place where we use our hands, sit around a fire, chat, share stories and make beautiful things.’
Isn’t she spot on? Moreover I truly believe that baking and cooking real, nourishing food is in our veins, in our blood and embedded in our DNA. Ironically, I’m not a particularly good cook (though I am getting better;)) but I take solace in the fact that I am a natural cook. What I mean by that is that cooking is something my mother has always done, my grandmother did daily (in fact she made a killer spicy peanut butter, I’ll never forget it) and generations and generations of women in my family did before me. Therefore making my own food is where I come from, is what I am naturally capable of doing and is how I can connect to my heritage and my foremothers.
Do you know what I find the most amazing about cooking and baking from scratch? That my son can see me in the kitchen and discover that his food was made by loving hands. So no more shop-bought bread, it’s all change here (HA, well, occasionally ;)).
As for today’s bread, I made it at my mother's home and with her help of course (see, I'm going back to my foremother;)). It was lots of fun in her kitchen and I can't wait to do it again soon.
Finally, I'd like to note that this recipe is based on one I found on The Kitchn's website. I was keen to add a tad more fibre though and reduce the salt content, so changed the recipe a teeny tiny bit. I am rather pleased with the end result. I hope you are too.
Happy baking everyone and thanks for reading!
HOME-MADE PITA BREAD RECIPE
Preparation Time: 15-20 minutes
Waiting Time: 1-2 hours
Baking Time: 3-7 minutes (depending on oven)
Makes: 8 pitta breads
1 cup of warm water (not hot or boiling)
2 tbs active dry or instant yeast
2 cups (organic) plain or all-purpose white flour
1 cup (organic) wholemeal flour
1 tsp salt
1-2 tsp olive oil (optional)
Firstly, form the dough by mixing the water and yeast together. Let this mixture sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved. Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour (saving the last half cup for kneading), salt, and olive oil. Stir until a shaggy dough is formed.
Next, sprinkle a little of the extra flour onto your clean work surface and turn out the dough. Knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or the work surface, but try to be sparing. It's better to use too little flour than too much.
Then clean the bowl you used to mix the dough and film it with a little olive oil. Set the dough in the bowl and turn it until it's coated with oil. Cover it with a clean dishcloth or plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it's doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.
Gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and gently flatten each piece into a thick disk. Sprinkle the pieces with a little more flour. Next roll one of the pieces into a circle with a rolling pin. Sprinkle with a little extra flour if its starting to stick. Repeat with the other pieces of dough.
While shaping the pitas, heat the oven to 450F or 230C. Place a large baking sheet on the middle rack to heat.
Place the rolled-out pitas directly on the baking sheets and bake for about 3-7 minutes (depending on your oven, just keep a close eye). The pita bread will start to puff up after 1-2 minutes and is done when it has fully ballooned. Remove it from the oven when done and cover the baked pitas with a clean dishtowel while cooking any remaining pitas.
Eat immediately after cooking, as the pita bread is at its best then. Oh so yummy...
IMPORTANT: The flour you use will impact on how much your pitta bread puffs up. The flours I used caused the pita bread to rise less in the oven, so please don't be alarmed if you follow this recipe and your pitta bread doesn't look like the ones on The Kitch's website ;). I also know from my cakebaking experience, that every oven is different and hence, rather than being too perscriptive about how long you should bake these in the oven, I suggest you keep a close eye on how your breads do and use the time noted above as a rough guide only.
Eat with... chunky avocado dip, Persian herb salad, healthy coleslaw or some beetbutter (as shown, recipe coming to the blog soon).
BEETBUTTER - to follow shortly