Baking Recipes,  Bread-making,  Experiments & experiences,  Yeasted breads

Whole Wheat Pita Bread- the most therapeutic thing I made all year

Let’s face it, the holidays can sometimes get people into a gift-shopping, party-planning frenzy. For bakers like myself, the feeling of glee and the spirit of Christmas generates such an excitement in the creation of a wide array of Christmas-y treats that I feel like I should live in my kitchen at least for the month of December.

And it’s not necessarily like I am baking things to give as gifts with every recipe I make, but simply because it is what the mood of the season makes me want to do. I want to constantly fill my house with peppermint, gingerbread, reds and greens… All things festive in the name of my favourite holiday of all. But sometimes I can get ahead of myself, as I’m sure is the case for most food bloggers.

After the sugar overdose that is my previous post, I decided to step back from the Christmas goodies for a bit to do a little bread-baking, which in truth is always so relaxing for me. I have been wanting to make my own pita bread for a while, because I was curious about the process. What I wasn’t expecting was how therapeutic it actually became for me! I loved the whole thing so much I took lots of pictures along the way!

From the moment I began this recipe, I just had this good vibe. I was alone in the kitchen for the most part and it was so quiet, so different from the bustling place I am accustomed to, that I couldn’t help but savour that moment. The best part without a doubt was rolling the dough flat and watching it get all puffy at the sides. I could feel the fluffy softness of the dough beneath my rolling pin, and this part gave me such a calm I cannot explain. I think it officially proves that making bread is my absolute favourite aspect of baking.

Just so you know:

  • When is the best time to make this recipe? When you have a few free hours in your hands.
  • Anything special we should know about before attempting this recipe? As I mentioned above, it’s best to make this recipe when you find yourself with some free time. The dough needs quite a bit of waiting time, beginning with the non-overnight sponge base. But because it is so easy and the results are stellar, I do think it’s quite worth the wait. Besides, you can probably do other things in between.
  • Would I change anything from this recipe? I think it’s perfect.

Whole Wheat Pita Bread

This recipe is incredibly easy and produces wonderfully soft and puffy pita bread perfect for any type of filling!

Makes 8 rounds of pita, or 16 halves

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water, about 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

Instructions

Make the sponge

  • 1. 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.)
  • 2. 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.

Prepare the dough

  • 3. Stir in oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water, and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour mixture until a dough forms.
  • 4. 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 large oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  • 5. Punch down dough and cut into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Flatten one 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.
  • 6. Loosely cover pitas with 2 clean kitchen towels (not terry cloth) and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, until puffy.
  • 7. Set oven rack in lower third of oven and remove other racks. Preheat oven to 500°F.
  • 8. Transfer 4 pitas, one at a time, directly onto the oven rack. Bake until just puffed and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over with tongs and bake 1 minute more. Cool pitas on a cooling rack 2 minutes, then stack and wrap loosely in a kitchen towel to keep pitas warm.
  • 9. Bake remaining 4 pitas in same manner. Serve warm.
These pita breads are gorgeous, gorgeous things. Truly. And you know how to make them even better? Why, stuff them with one of my favourite fillings, of course!

I initially planned to write this on a separate post, but my photos are very horrible because I kind of photographed in the dark. I made this early in the morning for breakfast. The sun hadn’t risen yet and I hadn’t the energy to arrange the lighting and all. So bear with me, because despite the ugly photos, this filling is quite excellent!

This is basically a mixture of vegetables and chicken, cooked and seasoned with Peanut Satay Sauce and Chili Garlic Sauce. I have very great appreciation for all sorts of Asian cuisine, not just because I’m Asian, but because the flavours are always so good no matter what cuisine you pick!

I found this recipe while I was browsing through one of my favourite blogs, and I decided to scale it up to be able fill all the pita bread I made from the recipe above. And instead of just mixing it up like the original recipe states, I decided to stir-fry it to distribute the flavours better. Besides, we like eating these things hot. It’s just yummier that way.

Just so you know:

  • When is the best time to make this recipe? This is great for an everyday snack/meal. You can pack it in your lunchbox when you go to school or the office, and it’s bound to get people drooling, just by the smell. Buying a whole rotisserie chicken just for this purpose is already worth it, but I imagine it’s a great way to make use of leftover roast chicken. Simply cut the recipe based on the amount of chicken.
  • Anything special we should know about before attempting this recipe? You can buy both the Peanut Satay Sauce and Chili Garlic Sauce in Asian groceries, or the Asian condiments aisle in your Supermarket. I’ve linked to the brands I used for this recipe.
  • Would I change anything from this recipe? I already changed the way it is prepared from the original, and my way is what you will find below. Click on the link I’ve provided on my source credit to see the original recipe.

 

Chicken Satay Pita

This is an amazingly flavorful mixture of vegetables and chicken, cooked and seasoned with Peanut Satay Sauce and Chili Garlic Sauce.

Fills 12 to 16 pita halves

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white onions, diced
  • 3/4 cup red and/or green bell peppers, sliced into thin strips
  • 3/4 cup carrots, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh mung bean sprouts, rinsed in cold water and drained
  • 3 1/2 cups shredded chicken
  • 8 tablespoons peanut satay sauce, more or less according to preference
  • 4 teaspoons chile paste with garlic, more or less according to preference
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • about 1/2 cup of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • oil, for stir-frying
  • 6 to 8 rounds of pita, halved

Instructions

  • 1. With a little oil in a wok over medium heat, cook onions until slightly softened and aromatic.
  • 2. Add pepper and carrots. Stir to combine. Add bean sprouts.
  • 3. Add the shredded chicken, the peanut sauce and the chile paste, and stir together in the wok.
  • 4. Season with salt. Then using two spatulas, mix the ingredients throughly, just to make sure the flavourings and sauces are evenly combined with the vegetables and chicken.
  • 5. Once thoroughly blended, turn off heat and scatter cilantro on top. You may mix it further to distribute or leave it as is for filling.
  • 6. If using pita that is not freshly baked, toast it first. Scoop about 1/2 cupfuls of the Chicken Satay mixture into pita breads.
  • 7. Serve warm.

Notes

Take a break from all the holiday fare with this recipe! Now excuse me while I go back to my holiday baking. 🙂

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