Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Breaking Bread

I had a very stressful day yesterday. So much so that when I took it to the bed for a much needed 5 pm nap, I tossed and turned forever. When I woke, I didn't feel much better. This is how I ended up baking bread at midnight.

There is something so calming about fooling around with dough. Whether it be pasta dough or bread dough, it soothes me. I used to think it was baking that did it for me, but it's really about dough. Although I love to bake desserts, I've found that making those can be stressful too. Have you ever tried to tort and decorate a cake?

Pita bread is so cool. The little dough pockets make the containers for all types of sandwich fillings. I tend to stick with hummus, tomatoes, olives, feta, etc. I also like to cut the pita into triangles, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with herbs and spices and make a sort of low-fat chip. Quite tasty. This is my second attempt a making pita bread; it's been years since the first try. Hopefully, these will be better. This recipe is from Tyler Florence.

Mix the yeast, warm water and sugar in the bowl of your standing mixer. Let the mixture stand until the yeasts become foamy.

Add the flour, slowly. It's a whole 3 1/2 cups! I used 2 C of bread flour and 1 1/2 C of whole wheat flour. I kneaded the dough on low speed until all the four was incorporated.

Then I turned it up to #4 and let it rip for about 10 minutes. This was a departure from the recipe. I like for the dough to clean the bowl.

The dough was sticky. I plopped it onto a well-floured board and kneaded it by hand until smooth.

After 90 tortuous minutes in a covered oiled bowl (the dough, not you) and you should have beautiful puffy dough. Punch it down and divide it into eight pieces. A bench scraper helps divide the dough.

Shape the dough into balls and allow them to rest, covered for 15 minutes. This keeps the dough from fighting back when you roll it out.

Roll each piece into a circle, or something close to a circle. I put the pitas between towels and let them rise for 20 more minutes. This was another variation from the recipe.

I placed the bread on a 500 degree pizza stone using a peel. I can't share any pictures because my pizza stone is ... well let's just say it's not fit for public viewing! Bake until the bread puffs up. How cool is that? Now I have to admit that not all puffed up properly. Of the six I baked immediately, three rose properly.

As the bread cools, it deflates. Well it's supposed to. After five minutes on the cooling rack, I mine had not deflated. I used a toothpick to poke holes in the side of the bread and lightly pressed down.

The ones that didn't rise made great flatbread. I purposely rolled some improperly and seasoned them to make zesty flatbread.

Use kitchen shears to cut the pita in half. Looks like I did alright this time.
Tools of the trade:

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