Sometimes when it’s muggy out and I’m on vacation and I feel like “I’m worth it,” I get in the mood to bake something. It’s not that I’m bored so much as I finally feel that I have time to have some fun and relax, and for me, making something that requires specific, yet somehow flexible steps results in my feeling particularly accomplished. While studying feels like it will never end (I always felt I could have studied for one more hour), and paper-writing inevitably means producing something that could benefit from even further revision, cooking and baking have more definite beginnings, middles, and ends. You measure out the ingredients, if you’re using yeast you’ll have some down time during which the dough rises, and at the end you’ll have something warm and handmade. I like that.
Of the many recipes I’ve saved for “later,” homemade whole wheat pitas is one I’ve been especially excited for. A great piece of pita or other flatbread dipped in hummus, baba, or cool tzatziki really makes my heart sing. And let me tell you, these pitas will really put the store-bought variety to shame. Next time, I’ll try replacing 1/4 cup of bread flour with whole wheat, just to see how high I can take the heartiness. Together with a simple salad of mixed greens, roasted red peppers and some tuna on the side, you have what I consider a perfect dinner for a hot spring-turning-into-summer night.
Whole Wheat Pita Bread
1 Tablespoon Active Dry Yeast
1 Tablespoon honey
1 1/4 cups warm water, divided
1 1/2 cups bread flour, divided
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, divided
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
cornmeal for sprinkling
1. In a large bowl mix together yeast, honey, and 1/2 cup of water, stirring with a fork to help dissolve the yeast.
2. Add 1/4 cup of bread flour and 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour and whisk together until smooth.
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for about 45 minutes until doubled and bubbly.
4. Add remaining 3/4 cup of warm water and 1 1/4 cups each of bread and whole wheat flour, as well as the olive oil and salt. Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
5. Now, place the ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl bowl and allow to rise for about an hour, until doubled.
6. Move oven rack to the middle position and place a baking sheet inside. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
7. After your dough has risen, deflate your dough and place on a lightly floured surface.
8. Divide your dough into 8 equal portions and form each into a ball. Then flatten each into a circle about 6.5-7 inches in diameter.
9. Transfer your pita rounds onto a work surface covered with cornmeal. Cover with a clean kitchen towel or a bit of loose plastic wrap for about 30 minutes, until they begin to puff up a bit.
10. Place 4 pitas in the oven on your preheated baking sheet, cornmeal side down. Bake for two minutes.
11. Using tongs, flip the pitas and bake for one more minute. Repeat with remaining rounds.
10. Allow to cool completely on wire rack and enjoy your homemade pitas in hummus or tzatziki. The original recipe states these will keep for 3 days in an airtight container.