Monday, August 27, 2012

Energy Efficient Recipes #2: Pita Bread

The making of pita bread always seemed like a sacred thing to me. I ate pita pockets as a kid, in Canada--they were much more readily available there than in the South--and when I went to find a recipe, it seemed that everyone had their own way that had been passed down from generation to generation...

But as it turns out, the making of pita bread is entirely up to the person. The recipe I used is as follows:

Pita Bread

1 packet dry active yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons, for those of us who buy it by the jar)
1/2 cup WARM water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups flour
2 tablespoon olive oil

Mix water, sugar, and yeast. Let proof*.

Mix in flour and oil and combine until a dough. Knead for about 8 minutes, then turn into a greased bowl. Let it double.

Punch dough down, and split into chunks. Roll on a floured surface into 8" circles.

 Cook on a nongreased skillet for about 3 minutes a side. They should bubble and rise.

Yield: 8

About 140 calories each

Notes: yes, you can substitute the sugar for honey. I'd use a medium heat to a medium-high heat. It keeps them from burning as much. You can also do half sizes. I use those for mini pizzas, because a whole one fills me up. The 3 minute thing is a generally agreed upon number--I usually only do about 1 minute, before they start burning. If anyone has any suggestions on how to fix this, I'd be appreciated.

*Proofing Yeast: I'm adding a section on this because I've had friends really mess this up. 
Think of your yeast like a bear. Its been in a nice, cozy packet of a cave for a long winter. Its warm and cozy, and it doesn't want to get up. So, you've got to make it think its finally springtime. Warm it up a bit. Coax it out. But you can't set the damn cave on fire. I use warm water from the tap, not scalding, but warm enough to wash your hands with on a cold day. Mix the warm water with the bear--I mean yeast--and let it sit. Maybe give it a bit of sugar as a welcoming present. You'll know its awake and happy when it gets all bubbly and it rises to the top. It'll smell like a bakery. THEN you can get happy and add your flour and stuff. 

Things I like about this recipe: Its cooked in a skillet, so you don't heat up the house with the oven. Keeps your A/C costs low. Its a fairly simple recipe, with only a few ingredients. They keep decently well. They make great bases for mini-pizzas, are great for sandwiches, great with hummus. Its a pretty versatile recipe.

Things I don't like about this recipe: I still haven't worked all the kinks out. They still burn about 90% of the time. I don't mind burnt things, so it doesn't affect me, but I'd like to make a non-blackened batch.

Things I would change about this recipe: Whole Wheat flour. Nuff said. Its not just a 1-to-1 ratio on wheat to white, though, so I can't advise how to go about that. However, that in itself would make a much healthier version of these.

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