July 4, 2009

weekend bread baking

I recently found a new pita bread recipe which produced puffier pitas as shown above. As part of my ongoing bread experimenting, I also tried to cook them in the toaster oven [below] with amazing results. Just place the flattened dough on a piece of parchment paper placed set directly on the grill. I even tried to place it directly on the grill without the paper and it worked as well. It was fun to watch them puff up.

Somehow, the toaster oven's small space combined with its high heat pushed the pita breads to rise fully and become puffier. I've made pita bread before but in the big oven, some would puff up and some would stay flat. But this batch all had that big space when you slice them in half which made them easier to fill. My only comment was that the texture was chewier than I expected but other than that, this was the best pita bread recipe I've tried so far.

PITA BREAD [new recipe from Under the High Chair]
1 tablespoon yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
3 - 3 1/2 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in water and stand 5 minutes. Add salt and flour and knead 8-10 minutes or until dough is smooth. This may be done with a mixer using the dough hook or in a bread machine. Turn out dough onto a floured board and divide into 6-10 pieces. Form into balls then flatten to 1/4" thick rounds. Let rest for 30-40 minutes. Place each dough round on a piece of parchment paper. Bake at 425F for 10-15 minutes or until puffed. They may also be baked in a toaster oven at 400F until puffed.
Another easy bread recipe that I always use is this basic roll recipe that has been a standby everytime I would have a craving for some fresh bread, which happens often. This flexible recipe may be used for dinner rolls, sweet breads like cinnamon rolls and loaf breads like this whole wheat loaf [shown above]. I altered the basic recipe and replaced half of the bread flour with whole wheat flour to make a healthier version. To improve the texture and allow the bread to rise higher, I like to add a small amout of vital wheat gluten.

2 cups unbleached bread flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup non-fat dry milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons water
1/2 stick margarine, softened

The egg, milk, water and margarine usually go first in the bread machine pan, followed by the dry ingredients. Put the yeast on top of the flour. Run the machine in Dough cycle for 1 1/2 hours. Then remove the risen dough from the pan and punch down gently. Divide the dough in half then place them in two loaf pans or just form them into loaves. Let rise for 20-30 minutes. Spray with water or brush with eggwash then slash the dough before baking. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.

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