Monday, January 23, 2012

River Cottage Pita Bread

Many things have converged lately to make me want to try my hand at pita bread.

At the moment, I'm reading "A Year in the Village of Eternity", a memoir by a British woman who lived for a year in a remote mountainous village in Italy. She learns the traditional, seasonal way of eating, which involves a lot of homegrown vegetables and olive oil. This diet, coupled with a lot of physical activity, leads to an extremely healthy population, and the village has a high percentage of centenarians and actively aging elders.

Also, I just finished the Hunger Games trilogy, and all that talk about "Peeta" made me crave some flatbread. And maybe some homemade hummus to go with it.

I am currently making my way through the wonderfully British "River Cottage" series, including the River Cottage Cookbook, Jam Book, and Bread Book. The books follow a certain English chap (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) who buys a farm in the countryside and learns how to raise or make his own... well, everything! Now the farm is also a cooking school and hub of fair food activism.

I found this recipe in "The River Cottage Bread Book" (and made a few changes). Technically, it's called Turkish flatbread, but it sure looked like pita bread to me, so there you go. Whatever you call it, it was the best flat bread I have ever had, and this will not be the last time I make it.

Flat Bread
(Makes about 12)

4 c. bread flour
4 c. whole wheat flour
1 T. active dry yeast
4 tsp. sea salt
1 1/3 c. warm water
1 1/3 c. plain low-fat yogurt, warmed
2 T. good olive oil

To use a food mixer: fit the dough hook and add the flours, yeast, salt, water and yogurt to the mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until combined, then add the oil and leave to knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and silky. Shape the dough into a round, then place in a clean oiled bowl. Leave to rise, covered with a plastic bag, in a warm place until doubled in size.

Deflate the dough, then if you have time, leave to rise a second, third, even a fourth time (this improves the dough but is by no means essential). Tear off pieces the size of small lemons. One at a time, shape into a round, then using plenty of flour, roll out to a 1/8" thickness and leave to rest for 5 minutes or so; this improves the finished bread dramatically.

Meanwhile, heat a large cast-iron skillet over the highest heat and set the oven to broil. When the pan is super-hot, lay the first bread in it. After a minute or possibly less the bread should be puffy and starting to char on the bottom Slide the pan under the broiler, and watch your creation balloon magnificently. Remove the bread when it starts to char on the top, drizzle with olive oil, and feed your awestruck friends.

P.S. This bread was awesome with my homemade hummus. I'm going to stuff the rest with homemade falafel!


  1. Yum! I haven't made pita bread in ages, but this inspires me to make some this weekend!

  2. Great looking bread! Thanks for some awesome reads to check out.

  3. Thanks, Renee, I think you will enjoy the books!

  4. You've been doing some good reading lately. I think I'm moving to Campodimele.

  5. This looks wonderful! I've yet to try tackling something like this at home. The memoir you're reading sounds great. I'm going to have to check that out. Thanks for the recommendation.


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