I flipped open Dan Lepard’s “Short and Sweet” book, and decided to make Perfect Plain Pita Bread. I had high hopes; I love pita bread.
Mixing, resting, and proving the dough was as easy as ABC. It’s second-nature to me now. I don’t even think about how long 10-seconds of kneading is; it’s 10-seconds. I don’t even bother setting the kitchen timer for those three 10-minute intervals. I think Dan’s made me all intuitive like or something. Or my body clock has found a new purpose and it’s started ticking again. I didn’t take any photos of the let’s-make-dough sequence. We’ve all seen dough. We’ve seen it kneaded, rising, resting and recuperating. So as rathers go, I reckoned you’d rather see a photo of a garden gnome….
That’s Elmo (the Garden Gnome) by the way. You’ll see him chasing about my garden often. Occasionally he plays hide and seek.
I rolled out each 100g squidgy lump of dough to a 5mm thickness, using my two stacked £ coins as a guide. The first two pitas went into my very hot oven, that I swear had started to squeak and whine from the exertion. Three minutes wasn’t enough time; they hadn’t plumped up. Five minutes was enough though. My oven had created two ivory coloured rugby balls. American footballs even. I grabbed my tongs and gingerly squeezed the sides of the inflated bread to remove them from the oven. Wrong move.
Do not try removing your pita breads by tonging them along the sides. They deflated, much like my high hopes and enthusiasm. I tried again by grabbing the top and bottom instead. That worked perfectly, and the pita remained inflated until it eventually went flat on the cooling rack. My enthusiasm was restored along with my appetite.
Oddly, or perhaps not since I usually have to try a recipe twice before I succeed, some of my pitas didn’t fully inflate. They’d start off with a nice big, expanding bubble at one end and that’s where it all stopped, halfway. They were fully baked though, and I was able to fork them open after they’d cooled. I just wanted them to inflate fully without being poked and prodded with a fork.
During the day I’d slow-roasted two lamb shanks with carrots, garlic and onions. When it finished cooking, I “pulled” the meat off the bone, tossing it with a bit of gravy made from the broth, and stuffed the pitas with the garlicky onion, lamb, lettuce and tomato. Then we topped it all off with some crème fraîche and excruciatingly hot Nando sauce.
So, will I make them again? Yes. In every language recognised by the human ear, I say “Yes!”
Will I ever buy store-made pitas again? Not by the hairs on your chiny-chin-chin.
Now I wonder if I should make those Double Corn Bread Muffins…