whole wheat pita bread
Let me walk you through a typical day lately: It’s 4:30 p.m. I haven’t showered yet or put on makeup — I’m lucky if I’ve even changed out of my pajamas into real people clothes (sometimes taking off my flannel pants and putting on my yoga pants counts as getting dressed. Real life). Mount Dishes of Doom has piled high in the sink, an amorphous mass of half-licked chocolate-covered spoons, empty oatmeal bowls, a skillet used to make tonight’s dinner and some of the doodads and thingamabobs that go with my food processor. The sun is shining, which is pretty great, except that it’s showing every square inch of my apartment where the cat hair hasn’t been cleaned up in a few days. The bed isn’t made, I still never called the bank to get that thing fixed and I need to make a hair appointment, like, yesterday. The stuff atop my head just isn’t socially acceptable anymore.
In short, it’s been chaotic. Sometimes I feel like my head is just above water — other times, I just need a corner to cry in and an ice cream sandwich. I wonder what it will be like when I have kids — I surmise that will be the moment I go full-on crazy cat lady. At least it will make for a good memoir.
Thankfully, it’s not all bad busy these days — and in the quieter moments, when I can finally take a shower or actually do yoga in my yoga pants or make this whole wheat pita bread, I am able to look past the cat hair and enjoy the sunshine.
These whole wheat pitas are my way of creating balance in this crazy world. For a while, life was all frosting-topped Easter pancakes and cookies and buttery brunch casseroles — now? Now it needs to be whole wheat pita wraps and salads and smoothies. And I’m OK with that, as long as it still tastes good. This pita bread definitely fits the bill.
I’ve made pita bread before, but none have been so close to the texture of the storebought variety. You know the kind — perfectly soft and pliable, big enough to fill and wrap as a sandwich and flavorful, to boot. The technique in making these is one I’m not used to, but I think I’ll stick with it because it works. And if you fancy making yourself a batch of these but still need to get dinner on the table tonight, I suggest making this Indian chicken wrap recipe to use them with, as I did. In our home, it’s been inducted as a keeper.
I won’t lie to you and say it’s worth making this pita bread all the time and doing away with the storebought kind — this is real life, and sometimes we need the convenience, especially on busier, crazy-inducing days. But if you’re looking for something wholesome and flavorful, easy yet homemade, or just something that helps you slow down and take in the sunshine for a while, this is one spectacular recipe for accomplishing your goals. If anything, it counts as dinner — and that’s one less thing on your to-do list.
Yields: 8 pitas
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 1/4 cups warm water, divided (about 115 degrees F)
1 1/2 cups bread flour, divided
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, divided
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
cornmeal, for sprinkling
In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together yeast, honey and 1/2 cup warm water until yeast dissolves. Let stand 5 minutes until puffy (if it doesn’t puff up, discard the whole mixture and start over). Add 1/2 cup bread flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour; stir until smooth. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
When yeast mixture is doubled, add remaining warm water, flours, olive oil and salt; attach dough hook to stand mixer and knead on low speed, adding more flour as needed until a smooth, elastic and only slightly sticky dough forms, about 8 minutes (OR, knead dough by hand on a lightly floured surface until a smooth, elastic and only slightly sticky dough forms, about 10 minutes). Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl; turn once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch down risen dough. Divide into 8 equal pieces; shape each piece into a ball. Punch down and stretch each dough ball into a 7-inch wide circle; transfer to baking sheets or a surface lightly covered in cornmeal. Cover with tea towels and let rise until puffy, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oven to 500 degrees F with one rack in the lower third of the oven. Carefully place 4 pitas at a time directly on top of oven racks; bake 2-3 minutes or until puffy and golden. Using tongs, flip pitas and bake 1 minute more. Transfer pitas to a cooling rack to cool 2 minutes, then place in a kitchen towel to stay warm and pliable. Repeat with remaining pitas.
Use warm pitas to make these delicious Indian chicken wraps.