Monday, January 14, 2013

Whole Wheat Pita

Homemade Whole Wheat Pita 
or how i learned to stop worrying and love the poof.
insert "leaning tower" joke here.

Not to oversell or anything, but learning to bake bread will change your life. And, as a tidy little bonus, it will forever impress your loved ones
and save you a ton of money. Downside? Not a one.
I've been rocking this particular pita recipe for a few years now and can wholeheartedly attest to its life-change-y goodness. The mechanics of it may still confuse the hell out of me (WHY DOES IT POOF??), but the finished product is so damn good the worries and confusion just melt away.

Don't ask questions.
Just learn to love the poof.

Whole Wheat Pita:
(makes approximately 12 medium pitas)

You will need:
 Pizza stone or oven-safe cast iron griddle/skillet for baking
2 large baking sheets

*This recipe is very easy with a stand mixer equiped with a dough hook,
but can be made by hand with a little more effort. 

1 packet (2 1/2tsp) of active dry yeast
1 1/4c warm water
1/2c all purpose flour
2 1/2c whole wheat flour
1/4c extra virgin olive or canola oil
1/2tsp sea salt salt
1/2tsp organic sugar
Extra oil for mixing bowl

Measure out your warm water, you want it to be warm to the touch but not hot, 
no more than 105 degrees.
Combine water, sugar and yeast in a large mixing bowl
(or bowl of stand mixer) and whisk together. 
Let stand for 10 minutes or until mix is foamy.
While your yeast proofs, combine flours and salt in smaller bowl, whisk to combine.
When your yeast mixture is ready, whisk in 1/2c of the flour mix.
Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft free place.
Allow to rise until roughly doubled in bulk, approximately 45min to 1 hr.

If using a stand mixer:
Reattach your bowl of yeast mixture to the mixer fitted with a dough hook.
Add in remainder of flour and 1/4c of olive oil.
Mix dough on medium speed for 5-8 minutes until a smooth, elastic dough forms.
Remove dough from bowl, form loosely into a ball and
 place on a lightly floured surface.
Oil the mixing bowl and place dough ball inside.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled
in bulk, approximately 1hr. 

If mixing by hand:
Follow all above steps, and knead by hand for 10-12 minutes 
until dough is smooth and elastic.
After second rise is complete:
Punch dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface.
Using a dough scraper or a sharp knife, cut dough into 12 equally sized pieces.
Roll each piece into a ball and place back on floured work surface.
Dust lightly with flour then loosely cover with plastic wrap or clean kitchen towels.
Allow dough balls to rest for 10 minutes.
Lightly dust two baking sheets with flour.
Using a rolling pin, roll out pita balls into thin, 5" rounds.
Place rolled pitas on floured baking sheets, cover loosely with towels or plastic wrap.
Allow to rest for 20 minutes. 
While your pita rests, place pizza stone or cast iron griddle on a shelf
in the lower half of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees.
Transfer pitas, 3-4 at a time to preheated pizza stone or griddle.
Bake for 2 minutes or until puffed, flip and bake one minute more.
Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.

*These pitas freeze beautifully. I often double the recipe, leaving half for the week and freezing the other half for later use. To freeze, allow the baked pita to cool completely, wrap in parchment and seal in ziplock bags. 

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