Whole Wheat Pita Bread

Over the course of the past few months, I’ve slowly been giving up a lot of the carbs we were eating with regularity around here. I’m mostly talking about things like pasta, bread, and pizza. I’ve always been a believer in the idea of all things in moderation, so I will eventually add all of these foods back to our diet. And when we do, I think it’ll be a lot easier to practice moderation. It just felt like we needed to temporarily hit the reset button, if that makes sense.

Pasta was probably the hardest to eliminate, simply because we ate a ton of simple pasta dishes for dinner and I’ve had to find ways to replace those meals. Shane is still in the midst of marathon training, and carbs (especially pasta) were very much part of his diet so it’s required some creativity to make sure he’s getting what he needs. To be clear, he hasn’t given up the foods I talked about above, he’s just not eating them as much as he used to since I cook dinner 99% of the time, and am not making them. Poor guy :)

Whole Wheat Pita Bread

As for bread and pizza? I honestly don’t miss them as much as I thought I would. I do, however, miss making them in my kitchen. Is that weird? Luckily, homemade bread is super easy to share, and someone is always willing to take it off my hands so I do still occasionally get the chance to whip some up!

This week I decided to tackle pita bread. I’ve only made it once before (over four years ago!), so it was a long overdue project. I went with a whole wheat version this time – well, partially – the recipe uses a combination of bread and whole wheat flours. This recipe takes some time, but almost all of it is hands-off; it’d be a great weekend project if you’re looking for one. Let me tell you, the result is oh so worth the effort. Store-bought pitas always seem dry and bland to me, but this homemade version is incredibly soft and tender!

Whole Wheat Pita Bread

The pitas puffed up like crazy too – I knelt in front of the oven door watching the magic happen with each and every one. It never gets old! Shane filled a few of the pitas with mini turkey meatballs I made for dinner one night, along with tomato sauce and cheese. It looked so good! I definitely missed bread a little bit that night :)

Whole Wheat Pita Bread
recipe adapted from Cooking Light, March 2009, method adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride (originally from Gourmet)

1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (about 100-110 F)
10 oz (about 2 1/4 cups) bread flour
4.75 oz (about 1 cup) white whole wheat flour, divided
2 tablespoons light sour cream
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
cornmeal

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the sugar, yeast and 1/2 cup of the water. Whisk both flours together in a medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the flour mixture to the yeast mixture and whisk until smooth. Cover the mixer bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 35-45 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbly and doubled in size. Add the remaining water, the remaining flour, the sour cream, oil, and salt to the dough mixture. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and mix on low speed until a rough dough comes together (you may need to scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl once or twice). Knead the dough on low speed for 5-6 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic.

Turn the dough out onto your work surface and shape into a ball. Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray, then add the dough to the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, sprinkle two baking sheets with cornmeal. Preheat oven to 500 F. (If you have a baking stone, place it on the middle rack of the oven to preheat as well. If you don’t, you can either bake the pita bread directly on the oven racks or the back side of a baking sheet.)

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut it into 8 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, shape the dough into a ball then flatten into a disk. Roll the dough out to about a 6-inch circle (add additional flour if the dough is sticking). The dough may spring back, just let it rest for a few minutes then try to roll again. Transfer the dough to one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough (I put 4 round of dough on each baking sheet). Loosely cover each of the baking sheets with a kitchen towel and set aside for about 20 minutes, or until the dough is slightly puffy.

Transfer a few pitas at a time to your baking stone (or the oven rack or baking sheet – whatever you’re using). Bake for about 2 minutes on the first side, or until puffed and golden then flip the pitas over and bake for another 1-2 minutes. Transfer the pitas to a wire rack to cool. Continue until all pitas have been baked.

Makes 8 pitas