Food of the gods
When my bread machine died a couple of years back I made it my quest to learn how to make the perfect loaf. After numerous 'crumbly brick' like efforts I invested in the River Cottage Bread Handbook and never looked back!
Once I had mastered the common loaf I turned my hand to Pizza (home made is unbelievably good!), Flatbread (or flour tortillas if you buy them in the supermarkets), Naan bread, Tiger rolls, Baguettes, Focaccia, and as of today Pittas!
Read on for some drool-worthy recipes...
500g Strong white bread flour
5g Powdered dried yeast
1tbsp Olive oil
325ml warm water
325ml warm water
I use the type of yeast which needs activating in a little warm water with a tsp of sugar before using, but there is also a dried yeast which can be used straight from the packet.
Mix the yeast, flour, salt, oil & water in a bowl to form a sticky dough.
Turn the dough out & knead it until smooth & silky, about 10 mins.
Shape it into a round, rub with some olive oil to keep moist, cover & leave to rise somewhere out of a draught. Not by anything too hot, like a radiator. (I cover mine with a plastic bag & put in the oven with the oven light on...the heat from the bulb is enough!)
When doubled in size tip it out & press into your preferred shape... I like to use my half sized baking tray (as in the photo). Leave it to rise, covered for about 30 mins.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to approx 250c/ gas mark 10 ( or as high as it will go). When the bread looks puffed up use your fingertips to gently poke holes across the surface, almost to the bottom.
Drizzle generously with olive oil, sprinkle with lovely crumbly sea salt & chopped fresh rosemary.
Bake for about 10 minutes on full, then turn the oven down to about 200c/gas mark 6 for a further 10 mins.
Keep an eye on it though as ovens do vary!
Now I can't say for sure what real Italian Focaccia is meant to taste like, but as far as it goes, the stuff that comes out of my oven is one of my absolute favourite breads!
I did hear a top bread chef say not too long that the key to good Focaccia is water. The wetter the better. It creates lots of large holes within the crumb. It shouldn't be too much like a regular loaf of bread.
Thin, a little crunchy & perfect for eating with almost any meal...
This makes a very decent sized Focaccia, but seeing as it's only myself & my Husband, I cut this into 3rds & freeze each one individually. That way there is always a delicious accompaniment to dinner when you need it.
No need to defrost... just wrap in tin foil & warm it through in the oven. Unwrap it for the last 10 mins to get it all crunchy. *Nom nom* :)
Ingredients: Makes 8 large pittas
375g Plain flour (or half plain and half wholemeal)
250ml warm water
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
Mix dough ingredients (as above) and knead until smooth. Leave to double in size.
Turn out onto a floured surface, stretch into a rope & cut into 8 pieces (or more if you want smaller pittas).
Roll each into a ball, then flatten & with a rolling pin and shape them.
Place on a well floured surface (to stop them sticking) & heat the oven to around 220c.
Place the pittas onto lightly greased metal cooling trays or baking trays with holes in (pizza trays) & sprinkle with water.
Place on the top shelf of the oven & throw in a splash of water (onto a baking tray on the bottom) for extra steam to help puff them up.
Cook for between 4 - 6 minutes (ovens vary, so keep an eye on them). They are done when all puffed up & just starting to go a bit golden.
Put aside & cover with a tea towel while you cook the next ones.
If they come out a bit crispy don't worry, they will soften up.
After making these, I will never again be able to buy a convenient pack of pittas from the supermarket! I have already stashed 4 of these home made bad boys in the freezer... they may or may not last the week! :)
It never ceases to impress me of the delicious things one can make from so few ingredients!
Give em a try...& tell me how they turned out! :)