The New World Sourdough whole-grain pita bread recipe is as easy as it looks. The recipe is a standard flour, water, salt, yeast combo. The only ingredient that would give anyone trouble is spelt flour, but I’m sure it could easily be replaced with whole wheat.
Like English muffins, I was curious to learn how pitas are born. Where does that pocket come from? Where do I insert the bellows to fill the bread with air?
Unlike English muffins, pitas keep their secrets. There was no particular pocket process. Once one was rolled out and on the cooking surface, the pocket expanded like a beautiful wheat air mattress.
My big baking stone worked perfectly for two pitas at a time. To avoid deflating the pitas, I needed both hands to flip them. The tools I used were tongs (operated with a light touch) and a spatula, but I would guess there are more effective utensils out there.
This recipe makes four pitas, which I found amusing when compared to the 18 semitas de yema I made previously. I only ate one, though, so now who’s laughing? (No one.)
One reason I ate so few is I had no hummus. This was nothing more than poor planning.
These hardy pitas made an excellent receptacle for fillings. They didn’t break or soak through while eating. While great for a quick sandwich, this toughness did not age well–these pitas lost their softness the next day. I would recommend making only as many as you are going to eat that day.
To fulfill my focaccia debt, I returned to my most trusted recipe: Ligurian focaccia by Samin Nosrat (of Salt Fat Acid Heat fame). By my reckoning, this recipe is about 5% flour, 15% salt, 80% olive oil, and worth every drop.
After prying at least a dozen loaves of focaccia off of baking sheets, I finally realized I could use parchment paper to make my life easier. The olive oil pools more quickly on parchment paper than the metal sheet, so I tried to be snappy about brushing it on and plopping in the dough.
This recipe includes the unnatural step of pouring salty water over the dough to brine. Toppings are supposed to be added after the 45 minute brine, just before baking, but of course I accidentally added rosemary and garlic and then remembered to brine. This didn’t negatively affect the bread at all.
For…science…I proofed this loaf about 20 minutes beyond the prescribed 45 minutes. If anything, this made for a more wonderfully spongey bread, since my kitchen is cooler this time of year.
Encouraged by my previous success, I made the King Arthur Flour sourdough discard pretzel recipe again. Unfortunately, I did not let the oven cool off enough after making the focaccia. As a result, instead of a soft, buttery treat, these were hard, bready chew toys. Since my usual sin is underheating the oven, it was a wake-up call to make sure I don’t overheat either.
Bread develops flavor and texture in the bulking and proofing time. When a bread rises as quickly as these pretzels do, they depend on every other element being perfect. Since these were overbaked, they couldn’t be saved.