Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Making Pita Bread

Baking with Julia
Baking with Julia
I bought the book, "Baking with Julia," by Dorie Greenspan, many years ago. I have made many delicious recipes from the book, many times altering or changing out ingredients as I tried something new. For example, substituting Spelt or Kamut® Khorasan, Teff or rice flour for the white all-purpose or whole wheat called for. Whatever new grain is available, I try it out. I have made Pita breads from this book in the past, possibly over 10 years ago, and at the time I had notes in the book that I used Spelt and Kamut® Khorasan in the recipe and it turned out great. Of course, both these grains are some older forms of wheat, so why wouldn't they? At that time, I bought the Kamut and Spelt already pre-ground. I have made the bagels numerous times, using maple syrup instead of sugar and again, spelt, Kamut® Khorasan and rice flour instead of the white flour called for. These too, were fabulous.

Kamut & Teff Pita Bread
Kamut & Teff Pita Bread
While I do not want to just set recipes out here in my blog that belong to someone else, to be fair, using different grains, even wheat of a sort, can thoroughly change how a recipe works. I have made many a loaf of bread, whether "winging it" on my own or from recipes, so I have a good idea of how a dough should look and feel and act. Some of my experiments have not been the greatest, though I haven't made anything inedible.

Kamut & Teff Pita Breads
Kamut & Teff Pita Breads
With all this in mind, I want to put my version of the Pita Bread here, because they are delicious and beautiful. One thing that I have more and more come to rely on is measuring by weight. Since using the bread books by Peter Rheinart and Stanley Ginsburg, I have gotten more and more accustomed to the far less fallible results that weighing the ingredients affords. So when I set out to make Pita breads yesterday, I opted to use Kamut® Khorasan and Teff. Since I own my own electric grain mill, I buy all my grains whole, grinding them myself, with the far better quality resulting from freshly ground grains and seeds.

I am not sure why, outside of the fact that I went by measure and not weight, I ended up having to add more and more white flour once I got to kneading, but the dough was so wet I just could not handle it at all. All in all, I would estimate that at least ⅔ of the flour involved was Kamut® Khorasan and Teff, the other third was certainly white flour, due to this weight/measure difficulty. One quarter cup of the minuscule Teff seeds ground into nearly a cup of Teff flour! I have a feeling this is part of the problem. The ground flour was not at all compacted, so there was not enough by weight to be the proper equivalent. In all, I had to add an extra 1½ cups of white flour, beyond what the recipe called for in total cups.

Kamut grains
Kamut grains
The Pita still came out great, once I got the dough to the right consistency. The Pita breads can be baked in the oven, preferably on a pizza stone, or in a skillet on the stove. The main thing required is that there be sufficient heat on the bottom to create the rise, making the pocket. The recipe cautions that if the pizza stone or quarry tiles in the oven are not quite hot enough, there may be uneven rising, if the breads rise at all. But once the tiles are hot enough, the rest is smooth sailing. And regardless if the breads do not rise, they are still wonderful as a flatbread. In the forefront of the photo at top, I show one of the first 4 breads that got bubbles, but never lifted into a pocket, where the breads behind it (and all the remainder) all puffed up perfectly. The photo immediately above right shows the first poorly risen breads behind, with the first successful Pita proudly in front.

Kamut® Khorasan is a very "blond" colored grain. When ground, it produces a lovely creamy-looking flour, so the resulting bread is a lovely light blond color. Teff is one of the smallest grains, about the size of a poppy seed, and packed with nutrition. It is used to make the Ethiopian "injera" bread, something I have wanted to try, but so far it hasn't come up on my agenda! Another day!

Kamut® Khorasan & Teff Pita Breads

Made 20 Pita breads
Kamut & Teff Pita Breads
Kamut & Teff Pita Breads


1 teaspoon instant yeast
2½ cups lukewarm water
2½ cups Kamut® Khorasan flour

1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1½ cups Kamut® Khorasan flour

1 cup teff flour

*up to 1+ cups extra all-purpose flour, optional, if needed

The night before making the breads, combine the Sponge ingredients in a bowl. Use a wooden spoon and stir in just one direction, 100 times. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 

Next morning, remove the sponge from the fridge and set on the counter for an hour to come to room temperature. 

Sprinkle on the salt and the olive oil, then add in the final Kamut® Khorasan flour and the teff flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring again in the same one direction. If the dough is not stiff enough, add all-purpose flour, ½ cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes. The dough should be quite stiff, tacky, but not sticky. Grease a clean bowl and set the dough in the bowl, turning once to grease all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set on a counter to rise until doubled in bulk. 

Once ready to work with the dough, preheat the oven to 450 degrees, setting a pizza stone on the lowest rack. Allow ample time for the stone to heat through.

Divide the dough in half, setting one half back into the bowl while working with the other half. Divide the half piece of dough evenly into 8 or 10 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball and set aside. Take one ball, flatten it well, then using a rolling pin, roll the dough to less than ¼-inch thick. Set it aside. Repeat with the next ball of dough. Depending on how many pitas your pizza stone will hold (with such a hot oven, it was easiest for me to bake just two at a time), roll that many out, then flop them onto the hot stone. Close the oven door immediately and time them for 3 to 5 minutes. I found mine were perfectly puffed and baked at 4 minutes. Continue rolling balls of dough while the ones in the oven bake. Remove the baked Pitas from the oven with tongs, then again flop more dough onto the stone. Repeat this until all the dough is used. Once the first half is done, do the same with the second piece of the dough. 

This makes a lot of Pita, outside of having them for a party. They can be wrapped and frozen for a month or so, if needed. Reheat them on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven to bring to temperature.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest at AHOFpin. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.