Baking at Home: Pitta Bread
I had just decided that I wanted to do more baking at home when the oven broke. Fast forward six months and I am finally able to give it a go. Although I haven’t been able to bake, I have been doing plenty of homework in preparation. I was lucky enough to take part in a bread class at Brasserie Bread. They invited a group of food bloggers to road test a new class – From Grain to Bread. We talked grains; milled some flour; made some dough; and finally shaped and baked some bread to take home. It was a fantastic evening despite the pains in my wrist from hand kneading the dough. I have made bread before in my stand mixer but Matt at Brasserie Bread strongly encourages you to hand work the dough.
Hand working the dough is tough going but a great stress reliever. It takes a little practice but with a little persistence you will get great results. I have to confess, I’m not very good at grasping new techniques like this so I did get a little extra help from fellow food blogger Muppy, who has well and truly mastered the art of sour dough following a Brasserie Bread class.
I decided to start with this pitta bread recipe as this is something I can’t really find in the shops in Australia. Similar products are available but nothing quite like the pitta pockets I used to eat for my lunch at school. I read this recipe in a magazine I bought on my recent trip to the UK. The magazine was meant to be my reading material for the plane, but a delay at the airport meant I had read it all before boarding. The recipe for Pitta bread caught my eye as it is something I remember fondly from my childhood. It was also a good introduction to baking as it only requires one prove. I adapted the recipe to suit the flour I had and my experience of making the bread.
I’m loving my new ovens, mainly because I can see what’s going on when I’m cooking. I couldn’t resist this movie of the pitta bread puffing up! Once ballooned it makes a great pocket to be stuffed with tasty fillings.
75g natural yoghurt
125ml warm water
250g strong bread flour
1tsp dried yeast
1/2 tsp salt
Mix the yoghurt with the warm water, trying to dissolve it as best you can. Put the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl and stir to evenly distribute all of the ingredients. Add the water and yoghurt mixture and combine to make a dough. I find the best way to do this is with your hands. This is a very wet dough, don’t be tempted to add more flour.
Knead for 5-10 minutes until a smooth elastic dough is formed. It will still be pretty sticky but it will improve as you knead. It’s really difficult to describe how to hand work dough. The best advice I can give is go along to a Brasserie Bread class. Here’s a little snippet from their Instagram account. It’s short, but if you keep pressing play you get the idea. I guess you could also mix with a dough hook in a stand mixer, just don’t tell the guys at Brasserie Bread!
Cover and leave to to rise until the dough has doubled in size. This should take a couple of hours. Alternatively, if you are lucky enough to have a steam oven or warming drawer you can accelerate the proving process. I’m sure the pro’s would disapprove but I can prove dough in 40 minutes in the steam oven. It certainly means homemade bread for lunch is more achievable.
Pre-heat the oven to 220C and heat 2 pizza stones or baking trays. Once the dough has risen, knead again for 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 6 even portions and roll into 6 balls. With a very light dusting of flour on the bench and your hands, flatten each ball and stretch into a 10x20cm oval. Quickly transfer the dough to the pre-heated stones and cook for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned and puffed. I turned mine over for the last 2 minutes to ensure they were lightly browned on both sides. Cover in a clean tea towel and leave to cool.
Nic Cooks attended the cooking class as a guest of Brasserie Bread.