Gas station without pumps

2020 November 5

Pita bread

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 20:55
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This week’s bread is a bit constrained, as my oven failed on Tuesday, and the gas burner in the oven would not light.  This has happened twice before, and each time the igniter needed to be replaced.  The first time it happened, I got an appliance-repair person out to diagnose and fix it, but the second time I fixed it myself (replacing the igniter is not very difficult).  I’ve ordered a new igniter, but it may take over a week to get here.

So, I’m limited to stovetop breads.

I considered doing steam buns again, but I don’t really have time this week to make the filling and shape the buns.  My wife suggested that I make  flatbread in a frying pan—she often makes pita bread using a recipe from Flatbreads and Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.  Because I wanted to use my sourdough starter, I adapted the recipe a little.

I started the bread the day before baking.

1¼ cup wet sourdough starter
½ teaspoon dried yeast
1½ cup whole-wheat flour
1½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoon olive oil

Mix the yeast into the starter.  If your starter is not soupy like mine, then you may need to add warm water. The yeast is probably not needed, but I was worried that my sourdough had gotten a bit old and the yeast in it might not have been very active.

Mix in the rest of the ingredients and knead by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic.  My dough was a little dry, so I kneaded in another ⅛ cup of water a few drops at a time. Leave the dough in a covered bowl to rise.

When ready to bake, divide the dough into eight parts, and roll each part on a lightly floured board into a circle about 8″ (20cm) in diameter and less than ¼” (6 mm) thick.

Heat a large cast-iron fry pan over medium high heat. Cook one circle at a time in the fry pan—15 to 20 seconds on one side, flip it and cook for about a minute “until big bubbles begin to appear”, then flip back to the first side and try to get the whole circle to balloon.  Flatbreads and Flavors has some advice on how to achieve that by pressing gently with a towel to spread the bubbles that have already appeared.  The authors also recommend adjusting the heat so that the bread takes about 2–3 minutes to cook.

I plan to make just 2 or 3 of the pita bread for bread and tea, with the rest for our dinner (and maybe one or two the next day).  If the recipe comes out as well as when my wife makes it, I might make a batch of dough to leave in a bag in the fridge, so that I can make one or two pita a day for lunch.

I made one tonight (a day before bread and tea), so that I could have a photo for this blog post:

I think I need to roll the bread just a little thinner tomorrow, and make sure that the pan is up to temperature before I start—this bread took a little over 3 minutes to cook and started browning too much before it started puffing.

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