Pita Bread: A Recipe

Scroll to the bottom of this post to see my Day #2 photograph for the December Photo Project!

Homemade bread is perhaps one of my favorite things to bake (if cookies didn’t exist of course). I woke up this morning with a great desire to make pita bread. While pita bread is a bit more time consuming and requires some dedication, the end result is always worth the effort. Pita bread freezes well and tastes wonderful in so many applications: cut into wedges and served with hummus, toasted and served with soup, filled with falafel and tahini sauce, seasoned and baked into chips for a tasty snack… I love it!

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The recipe I use was printed in my local newspaper quite some time ago. My copy has been taped together many times and has dried dough on it – signs of a well-used recipe! It never fails and uses ingredients you ought to have on hand. You will need a baking stone though. Tim and I created a video of the pita making process in 2009 which I posted to my blog. You can also watch it here if you so desire. It’s funny.

Pita Bread (adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden)

*NOTE: I have had success replacing some of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour so feel free to experiment.

Makes 16

1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups warm water, divided
6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 teaspoons salt

1. In a large bowl, whisk together yeast, sugar, and 1/2 cup warm water. Whisk well and set aside until frothy, about 10 minutes. Add remaining 2 cups of warm water and 1 cup of flour. Stir with a big spoon. Add 2 more cups of flour, stirring well after each addition. Allow mixture to rest for 10-15 minutes.

2. Add 2 tablespoons oil and the salt to the mixture and stir well. Slowly add the remaining 3 cups of flour, mixing with a sturdy spoon or your hands. Mix until the dough forms a rough ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, you can use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Knead on medium speed until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Grease a large bowl with the remaining tablespoon of oil and place dough in bowl. Turn to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and place in a warm, draft-free spot. Let the dough rise until doubled in volume, 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

3. Place a baking stone on the middle rack of your oven and preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times and then divide equally into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap to prevent drying out the dough. Start with one ball of dough and roll it into a 7-inch disk. Place it on a lightly floured cookie sheet and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Repeat the process with as many dough balls as can fit on cookie sheets, making sure to leave a bit of space between each disk (do not to stack the dough). I usually use two large cookie sheets and place three disks on each sheet. Let the disks rest for 20 minutes.

4. Bake the disks, 1-2 at a time (depending on the size of your baking stone), on the stone until slightly golden and puffed, about 3 minutes per pita. Set a timer so you don’t forget!! Remove puffed pita(s) from the oven and start stacking on a plate. They will deflate on their own. Cover the stack with a clean dry towel and repeat until all pitas are baked.

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5. If you choose to freeze some of the pita breads, let them cool first and then double wrap them in zipper-lock bags. They keep well for several months, but rarely last that long since they are so darn delicious! Enjoy!!

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This stack of pita breads is my December Photo Project Day #2 photograph.

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Sunshine Dreams

I have gotten very lazy with MoFo posts lately. I definitely strayed from my original theme, and that is okay – it was inevitable. Planning and organization are the roots of my very being, but sometimes spontaneity is appreciated.

Today’s post is a repeat of a recipe I shared two years ago during MoFo 2010. I think it will brighten your day and remind you of summertime. Plus, some things are worth repeating. That’s a fact.

The recipe is for Bahama Cake (originally called Paradise City Cake because of my love for Guns-n-Roses during their prime sexy awesomeness. The Bahamas = paradise). It’s full of lovely tropical flavors like banana and coconut (Just like Axl Rose used to be lovely in his own way). It’s perfect for breakfast!

Bahama Cake

Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup coconut oil (already melted)
1/2 cup unrefined light brown sugar
1/4 cup unrefined granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
zest from 1 large orange (about 1 Tablespoon)
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (whole wheat pastry would work well too)
1 Tablespoon arrowroot
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large banana, sliced thin
1-2 Tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8×8 inch baking pan (metal is best here) and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, stir together coconut milk, coconut oil, sugars, extracts, and zest.
3. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Do not over-mix.
5. Spread batter into prepared pan and top evenly with banana slices. Sprinkle coconut flakes on top.
6. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out mostly clean. It’s okay if some crumbs stick.
7. Place pan on a cooling rack. Slice and serve once cooled.

Pumpkin Rice Crispy Treats Take II

Since I had the day off from work, I decided to remake my Pumpkin Rice Crispy Treats with a few minor adjustments. The result? Success! I was right yesterday, the recipe needed a reduction in the amount of pumpkin puree. Now I can share the recipe with you! I know most rice crispy treat recipes have similar ratios of cereal to marshmallow, so I can’t take all the credit for this one. Feel free to add more spices if you wish. I kept it simple with just cinnamon but I bet cloves, nutmeg, and ginger would be nice additions too.

Pumpkin Rice Crispy Treats

2 tablespoons vegan butter or coconut oil
10 ounces vegan marshmallows (I used Sweet & Sara brand)
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
6 cups rice crispy cereal

1. Lightly grease an 8-inch square pan and set aside.
2. In a large, deep pan, melt the butter or coconut oil over medium heat.
3. Add in the marshmallows and stir often until almost completely melted.
4. Once the marshmallows are nearly melted, stir in the pumpkin puree and cinnamon. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir well to incorporate the pumpkin.
5. Remove from heat and add in the cereal, two cups at a time. Stir well after each addition. Once all the cereal has been added, transfer the mixture to prepared pan. Press down firmly with damp hands or a small square of parchment paper. The treats will be thick.
6. Allow the mixture to cool before cutting into squares.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Rice Crispy Treats Take I

We are almost in the home stretch of Vegan MoFo 2012! I am admittedly a bit relieved because posting every day has overly challenged my delicate brain. It has also motivated me, which is always nice!

A few days ago I posted here and on Facebook about a 2-pound bag of Sweet & Sara marshmallows I received in the mail. I asked people what I should make and my favorite reply came from Jessica over at Awesome Vegan Rad. She suggested pumpkin rice crispy treats. What a super idea, right?

I finally had some time to attempt a recipe this afternoon. It wasn’t a complete success. It wasn’t a failure either. While the outcome tastes very pumpkin-y, the texture is a bit off. They are crispy and slightly soft. It’s hard to explain. They hold up fairly well after a short stint in the refrigerator. I think all the recipe needs is an adjustment in the amount of pumpkin puree. I will make them again, but for now, my sweet tooth is satisfied.

Brownies (and Giveaway Winner)!!

Do you want to know who won the Food Fight t-shirt giveaway?! I will reveal the answer at the end of this post. Mean, I know… Perhaps a recipe will make up for it?

A few years ago I was feverishly writing an all vegan (of course!) brownie book. My plan at the time had been to create all the recipes and then find a publisher. Well, I did write a lot of recipes and then I got sick of brownies and some dumb stuff happened in my life that put my motivation on the back burner. I don’t have any immediate plans to finish the book, but I do still love baking brownies. Plus, I am nearly finished with a sweet lil’ vegan cookzine that features a brownie recipe, so it all works out! In the meantime I figured it might be nice to share an updated version of my classic brownie recipe!

This recipe is very simple. It yields relatively fudgy, super chocolatey brownies. Feel free to stir in fun ingredients like chopped cookies, peanut butter cups, chocolate chips, nuts, marshmallows… You get the idea. Want a gluten-free version? You are in luck, click here.

Basic Fudgy Brownies

2/3 cup warm water
3 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1/2 cup softened coconut oil
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (please use fair trade/organic!)
1 cup organic sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup mix-ins, optional (I used Newman O cookies)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
2. In a glass measuring cup, vigorously whisk together the water and ground flax seeds. Set aside to thicken.
3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the coconut oil. Add in the chocolate chips and whisk until smooth. Stir in the sugar and vanilla extract. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
4. In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Pour in flax mixture and chocolate mixture. Stir well to incorporate. The batter will be thick. Stir in any mix-ins and spread batter into prepared pan.
5. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until mostly set. Allow brownies to cool for about 30 minutes and then transfer to the refrigerator to set for several hours. Please don’t skip this step! The  brownies turn magically fudgy in the fridge.
6. Cut into squares and serve!

Now it’s time to announce the winner of my giveaway. It’s… Maud, from Food Feud!!! Congratulations!!! You are the new owner of an awesome t-shirt! I will send you an e-mail shortly so we can arrange shipment of your prize. For everybody else, don’t be sad. I have another giveaway coming up soon, and it’s a good one! See you all tomorrow!!