When in doubt, make dough

As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve travelled to our Easter break with my Kenwood in tow. In pre Kenny days, I would bring my bread maker with us. But he’s sitting dejected in the linen cupboard since Kenny came on the scene.

This is the first time in years that I’ve sat around doing very little. It’s especially hard when there’s a three-and-a-half year old racing around the place. But needs must and my knee op has meant that I’m at mid paced hobble speed at best. A handy excuse when there are pre-teen kids around to see to my every need.

What it does give me time to do is think about what I could be making. I had a dessert in mind as we have an overflow of feijoas and persimmons waiting to be used. They’ll wait for another night as Kenny has won out again. It seemed an appropriate time to try making pita bread for the first time. I’ve always been fascinated by the puff and wondered if I could replicate it at home. Sister Number Four assured me they were easy.

And, they are!

I’ve used a variation of one of my bog standard dough recipes (bread or gozleme). Except that I’ve replaced a third of the flour with wholemeal. It’s a good time to mention that Pams brand flour has worked well for us in the Kenny Easter challenge. I’m always careful with ingredients and rarely use home brand sugars due to issues with caramelising in the past and some icing sugars having fillers. However, I am pleased to report nothing but good feedback on the high grade and wholemeal flours I’ve used over the past few days.

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What you’ll need

275g warm water, approx. (you may need to add a little more – I didn’t)

2 tsp active dried yeast

1 Tbsp sugar

2 C high grade flour

1 C wholemeal flour

(so, in total, 3 C flour, about 450ish g)

2 tsp salt

Ricebran oil

Spray oil

How to make them

Add the yeast and sugar to the water and set aside to activate. This will take 5-10 minutes.

Mix together the flours and salt. Make a well in the centre.

Add in the activated yeast mixture. Mix in with a large spoon then knead by hand or put into your stand beater and mix with a dough hook. You want it to be smooth and well kneaded (if kneading by hand, it’ll take about seven minutes).

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Set aside in an oiled bowl till doubled in size. Due to the extreme cold here, I put it in the hot water cupboard for about 30-40 minutes (above sign a constant here in Ohakune).

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Deflate the dough and break into 8-12 even sized balls. Cover with cling film and set aside for about 20 minutes. This will make it easier to roll them.

Turn oven to 200C. I covered the oven rack with foil as it made for a larger space to cook on.

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Roll each piece of dough to about 4-5mm thick. I found it easiest to use my fingers to bring them to size – about 120 mm in diameter. (My first attempts were more like a flat bread as I rolled them far too thinly and they didn’t puff so well.)

Sit aside for 5-10 minutes.

Spray the hot tray with spray oil. (At this point, you can spray some water into the oven to create some steam. This is not a deal breaker if you haven’t got a spray bottle handy. I used a sipper bottle to give a quick squirt of water.)

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Put 4-6 pitas in the oven (or whatever your tray will take). Bake for 4-7 minutes till nice and puffy – yes, just like the store ones.

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The cooking length will depend on the size of the breads and your oven. Our oven seems quite slow and took closer to 10 minutes. I turned my pitas over for the last two minutes. Not imperative, but gave a lightly browned finish to both sides.

I’ve got to say that I’m quite chuffed with the result. They look like the bought ones but taste way better. No fillers, not preservative. Fresh. There’s nothing better.

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While I know that making bread and hours in the kitchen is not everyone’s idea of a great holiday, it is mine. It’s probably lucky that the knee is stopping me from spending all day there or I wouldn’t have time to look for recipes and catch up on book club reading. On that subject, I’ve actually finished a book – not always usual for me. In my down time, I’ve read The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. It is hilarious. Lots of laughing out loud – which is fine as all of my house mates are out and about enjoying what this part of the country has to offer.

It’s off next door now, aided by crutches, with pita in hand. They have the cheese.

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