Thursday, February 3, 2011

Whole Wheat Pita Bread

I am playing tour guide this week as family is in town. Don't you love hosting friends and family? It means doing activities you wouldn't normally do (yesterday I went on a catamaran ride in the beautiful sea-green ocean) and eating out (I ate a fabulous seaweed crusted fish with wasabe butter the other night at a local restaurant. To. DIE. FOR!).  Living more than 2000 miles from relatives has been hard but on the bright side our family is more inclined to visit us seeing as we live in a tropical paradise and they are freezing on the mainland this winter.

One of our visitors is my sister and she is totally schooling me in my efforts to fulfill a New Year's resolution of dieting. The other afternoon she was eating store-bought humus with vegetables for lunch. That's when I jumped up and said: "Let me make you some delicious home-made hummus!" I whipped up the hummus in no more than 10 minutes and then pulled some of these pitas from the freezer that I had pre-cooked.

I love whole wheat breads because they taste great, they're freshly baked at home without preservatives (I grind my own wheat flour) and the whole grains are healthy for me and my family. The Foodie Bride has adapted a recipe from Gourmet (May 2003) for pita bread and I am loving it! Next on my list of recipes to make is some fabulous Greek gyros!

Whole Wheat Pita Bread
Recipe courtesy of Gourmet 2003 (adaptation per the Confections of a Foodie Bride)

2¼ tsp. instant yeast
1 tbsp. honey
1¼ cups warm water (105˚-115˚ F), divided
1½ cups bread flour, divided
1½ cups whole wheat flour, divided
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
Cornmeal, for sprinkling

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, honey and ½ cup of the water.  Stir gently to blend. Whisk ¼ cup of the bread flour and ¼ cup of the whole wheat flour into the yeast mixture until smooth.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes.

Remove the plastic wrap and return the bowl to the mixer stand, fitted with the dough hook.  Add in the remaining ¾ cup of warm water, 1¼ cups bread flour, 1¼ cups whole wheat flour, olive oil and salt. Knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  Transfer the ball of dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat, and let rise in a warm draft-free place, about 1 hour, until doubled in bulk.

Place an oven rack in the middle position.  Place a baking stone in the oven (if using) and preheat to 500˚ F.

Once the dough has risen, transfer to a lightly floured work surface, punch down the dough and divide into 8 equal pieces.  Form each piece into a ball.  Flatten one ball at a time into a disk, then stretch out into a 6½-7 inch circle.  Transfer the rounds to a baking sheet or other work surface lightly sprinkled with cornmeal.  Once all the rounds have been shaped, loosely cover with clean kitchen towels.  Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, until slightly puffy.

Transfer 4 pitas, 1 at a time, onto the baking surface.  (Note: These can be baked on a baking stone or directly on the oven racks. If baked on the rack don't use the cornmeal.) Bake 2 minutes, until puffed and pale golden.  Gently flip the pitas over using tongs and bake 1 minute more.  Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.  Repeat with the remaining pitas.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or place in freezer for later consumption.

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