Ojakangas Pita Recipe
I've been asked (via Messages!!) to post the recipe I used for Pitas. I made two recipes, but I'll post the one that was designed as a Pita recipe. Apparently just about any bread recipe will work, although I don't know about high-hydration doughs.
In my experimenting, I've become curious about the role of the yeast. My conjecture is that the yeast just helps with the development of the gluten and of the formation of a gluten skin (as I think someone called it). I don't think it has much of any role in the puffing up.
This recipe was taken from Beatrice Ojakangas' Great Whole Grain Breads. It's on page 277 and is called "Whole Wheat Pita Bread".
- 1 package active dry yeast (I'm sure I used considerably less)
- 2 1/2 cups warm water (warm if you go the proofing-of-the-yeast route - I don't - instead, I go for long refrigerator rises, usually overnight)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons salad oil
- 5 1/2 to 6 cups whole wheat flour
I won't go into the details of making the dough. Do it however you usually do it. Develop it into a smooth ball, but it doesn't need to rise. Ojakangas has you let it rest about 15 minutes after the mixing and before kneading 10 minutes on a board. Then you cover it and let it rest 20 minutes. Then you "punch dough down" and divide into four parts, and each part into four more, for a total of sixteen. So the dough for a single standard loaf of bread will make about eight standard pitas.
Shape each piece of dough into a small ball and roll out to make a 6-inch circle. I don't know how thick this is, but I suspect it's 3/16 of an inch. In my subsequent pita trial, I used the special rubber bands for rolling pins and rolled them out to 1/8 inch, and they were quite a bit thinner. Cover and let rise 30 minutes.
Here's where the Ojakangas narration gets confusing. I'll adapt. While the pitas are rising, preheat the oven to 500 degrees with a stone in place (for 30 minutes). Arrange six pitas at a time on parchment paper. With the assistance of a cookie sheet - a rimless one or a rimmed one turned upside down - transfer the pitas and the parchment to the stone. Bake 4-5 minutes "or until rounds are puffed and tops begin to brown." But don't wander off. Turn on the oven light and sit on the floor to watch. Mine started to puff up at about the two minute mark, and they were fully puffed up about a minute later. Quite a show.