When trying out a new recipe, do you sometimes get the feeling that it’s just not going to work? Finding out towards the end of cooking can be frustrating but luckily, the warning signs for this country-style whole wheat pita bread were obvious early in the process. While kneading by hand, the dough basically refused to come together for me.
Using the highest recommended amount of whole wheat pastry and all-purpose flour, I ended up with an excessively sticky paste that no amount of slapping and folding improved. It kept tearing and kneading wasn’t an option — it stubbornly adhered to fingertips, palms, and countertops. The whole wheat pastry flour I used must have been really low in protein and unsuitable for making bread dough (using conventional kneading methods, that is).
Bread Baking Buddies: Country-Style Whole Wheat Pita
hosted by llva of Lucullian Delights
Adding more flour was an option but the dough did have some structure — it just wasn’t strong enough. I couldn’t continue with the recipe as instructed so I had to tweak the recipe a bit: plop the gooey mass in a bowl and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight.
While in cold storage, the flour gets fully hydrated, improving its gluten-forming and steam-trapping properties without kneading.
If you ever try this recipe using the whole wheat pastry flour from Bob’s Red Mill, then consider my tweaks below if you run into the same problems. For the original country-style whole wheat pita recipe that seemed to work nicely for everyone except myself, please visit Lucullian Delights.
formula adapted from Levy Rose Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible
Country-Style Whole Wheat Pita
sixteen 6-inch round flatbreads
Final Dough Formula:
Ingredients Volume Ounces Grams whole wheat pastry flour 3 cups 13.5 383 all-purpose flour 3 1/2 cups 15.75 447 water, room temperature 2 1/2 cups 20 567 instant yeast 1 tsp kosher salt 1 tbsp .375 10 olive oil 1/4 cup 2 60
Tips on Getting the Pockets in your Pita Bread:
- To get the pockets in your pita, let the dough form a skin to help trap steam and puff the dough into balls. After dividing, form the pieces of dough into tight balls, pinching the bottom to seal. Rest for at least 15 minutes to relax the gluten, roll into thin rounds, and let the disks rest undisturbed for another 15 minutes before baking.
- Roll the dough thinly, at most 1/8-inch thick. Let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes to relax the gluten if it keeps springing back into shape.
- Try to get the dough as round as possible so it can puff into a ball more readily. Liberally dust the counter and rolling pin with flour to prevent sticking and help the dough spread out more evenly.
Final Dough Instructions:
Mix Mix all of the ingredients until evenly incorporated.
Rest Overnight (8 to 24 hours)
Divide 16 pieces
Preshape tight ball Rest 15 minutes Shape Use a rolling pin to flatten into 6-inch rounds Rest 15 to 30 minutes Preheat Oven As high as it will go, preferably with a baking stone 8-10 inches from the top heating element. Once preheated, turn on the broiler and leave the door slightly ajar to keep the broiler fired up. Bake Bake until fully puffed and the tops are speckled with dark brown spots. It may take anywhere from 4 to 8 minutes.
The most important gadget in my kitchen: a weathered bone-white baking stone. And the oven itself. Otherwise the baking stone is nothing but an unwieldy serving tray.
Let the tops brown slightly. Watch out for steam as you take it out.
Best Served Immediately
There’s really no need to cool. Just throw on a plate and serve while still puffed.
2 misshapen crispy loaves and my favorite letter.