Monday, May 23, 2005

Pita bread

For a friend's 'Pot Luck' BBQ dinner over the weekend, I decided to contribute hoisin and sambal marinated pork chops (i had made these before) and thought i would experiment with Pita bread. I had read in a back issue of Delicious magazine (compliments of Jamie Oliver) a recipe for delicious pita bread cooked on the barbeque grill, drizzled once done with rosemary, olive oil and some sea salt.
I had never known one could 'bake' pita bread on the grill instead of in the heated confines of an oven.
After rolling the dough into flat oval shapes, they were thrown on the pit, approx 3 mins on each side - and true to form, they puffed up into white pita oval pieces, complete with the aesthetically 'decorative' charred lines of the grill imprinted on it.
Basting it with rosemary and olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt, i have to say they tasted great with the exception that they were not rolled out thin enough, and would probably have tasted better split into half instead of torn into chunks (with impatient eagerness by hungry hands!)
I know i have said it before, but i will say it again. There is nothing like baking your own bread. The satisfaction, the sense of accomplishment, it's ability to impress, the pure joy of taking that first bite knowing that you made it with your own bare hands. In Nigel Slater's book Appetite (great read, highly recommend it), he says 'There's nothing like baking bread. It's easy, and everyone thinks you're a genius for it'

I would certainly make this again when the chance for another BBQ arises. It's a wonderful alternative to fluffy hot dog buns, and certainly do wonders to add a touch of 'sophistication' to normal BBQ fare.
Unfortunately, i don't have a good picture of the pita bread - oh well, one will just have to make it again soon!

Below is the recipe for whole wheat pita breads (i decided to replace the whole wheat flour with bread flour for the BBQ version) and of course, instead of baking them as recipe below suggests, simply throw them on the BBQ pit 3 mins each side.

1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/4 cups warm water (105–115°F)
2 cups bread flour or high-gluten flour, plus additional for kneading
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Cornmeal for sprinkling baking sheets

Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)
While yeast mixture stands, stir together flours in another bowl. Whisk 1/2 cup flour mixture into yeast mixture until smooth, then cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Stir in oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water, and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour mixture until a dough forms.

Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead, working in just enough additional flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and put in an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough and cut into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Flatten 1 ball, then roll out into a 6 1/2- to 7-inch round on floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Transfer round to 1 of 2 baking sheets lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Make 7 more rounds in same manner, arranging them on baking sheets. Loosely cover pitas with 2 clean kitchen towels (not terry cloth) and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Set oven rack in lower third of oven and remove other racks. Preheat oven to 500°F.


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