Friday, July 10, 2009

The Idot's Guide to Artisan Flat Bread

I've never done a cooking tutorial on this blog (uh... that I can remember anyway). It's just not really my style, I guess. You can get that at any number of food-related blogs. I have been asked to do them before, however, so I'll dip my feet in the water with a quick demonstration of pita bread. I make all our own bread products, partly because I enjoy it, partly because it's healthier (generally I use soaked or sprouted freshly ground flour), and also because I never go to the store.

Just to show you how lame I am at this food-demo thing, I'm not going to post a recipe.

Booo! Hisssss! Get off the stage!!!

Hey, quit with the tomatoes, alright?

See the thing is, I don't really use recipes very much. Well, I do for my sourdough bread, but only because I'm trying for a consistent product, and it's a more difficult bread. Other breads? I just make it up. I have a pretty good idea of proportions and I just throw something together. When I do use a recipe, I'm not known for my measuring skills. I'm kinda lazy that way...

Pita bread doesn't need a special dough. Just a basic, softish bread dough-- flour of your choice, water, yeast, salt, butter, honey. I work in proportions of flour (don't worry, not even I really understand it). This dough was based in 6 cups of fresh ground hard white wheat flour.

So, step 1. Mix the dough, let rise until doubled, punch down, turn out of the bowl onto a floured surface. (Yeah, that's all one step. Told you I was lousy at this. Look, that's the way most breads start, okay?)

2. Divide the dough in pieces and roll the pieces gently into roughly 3 inch balls. Let them rest a few minutes so that the gluten will relax and you don't spin your wheels trying to roll dough that just pulls back.

3. Put dough bowl into sink to soak (who really wants to chip dried dough out of a bowl when it's time to wash dishes?) right next to this morning's oatmeal pan and the nasty pan still soaking from last night, left from cooking a pile of old cow ribs.

4. Begin rolling dough balls into rounds. Be sure to use a fancy French tapered rolling pin because you will feel all hoity-toity and besides, that is the only way to be artisan-- use French stuff.

5. Let the rounds rest on the sheet pan for a few minutes, then put them right on the bottom of a very hot (450) oven, that you preheated a while ago, but I forgot to tell you to do earlier.

(You know that excuse some people have for not cleaning their ovens because "no one ever sees inside the oven anyway."? Well, I just blew that one out of the water, didn't I? Now the whole internet has seen the inside of my oven, complete with dribbled bits of burned pie filling and old cow juice.)

6. Set the timer for 3 minutes.

7. After 3 minutes, move the pan up to the top rack, and put another sheet pan of pitas on the bottom.

8. After three minutes, remove the first pan, and move the second to the top rack, adding another pan-full to the bottom, if you have one ready, which I didn't, and time for three minutes.

9. Scrape the crusty bits from the pan and taste.

10. Slap forehead as you wonder (now that you already have 6 pitas fully baked) what kind of idiot would leave the salt out of the pita dough?

(What about not using a recipe? Oh, shut up.)

11. Blame it on the Royal Dough Taster for not allerting you to a problem with the dough.

(Do you like raw bread dough? I think it's disgusting. I love cookie dough, but bread dough? Yuk! Jonah loves it.)

12. Wonder why the Royal Dough Taster is wearing a sweat shirt and sweat pants when it's 85 degrees outside with 100% humidity and the oven on.

13. Take all those beautiful pitas you've already rolled out...

14. ...and pile them all up, spinkling salt between each layer, in futile attempt to make them into something useful.

15. Gnash your teeth and remind yourself that you've tried this before and it is just never quite the same as remembering the salt in the first place.

16. Take your freaky claw hand (if you don't have one, get one!) and knead the salt into the dough.

17. Repeat steps 4-8 until you have a pile of less-than artisanal and slightly idiotic pita breads.

18. Put the unsalted pitas on top so that they will be used first by unsuspecting members of your household and only you will know the secret...


  1. You obviously didn't take a high school home ec course where they taught you to meticulously measure, leveling cups and spoonfuls. Hey, but you DID do 4-H recipe writing so what's the excuse there?

    Some people simply cannot function without the written recipe. It takes a lot of experience and confidence to work without one.

  2. I just found you through Pie in the Sky ( I guess your Mom's blog). I wanted to say I think your writing is fresh and fun and your blog very enjoyable. :)

  3. Awww... shucks! :-)

    Thanks for stopping by!

  4. you crack me up. but yeah I'll try it!
    Because I cook like this too.
    Haven't you ever seen my oven?
    I don't bat an eye at showing how the oven of a cooking person looks.
    I don't have any french cook ware but I sure could go for that Revere ware pot in your sink.
    I gave my set to my daughter who did not appreciate it and I wish I had another, dumb me thought something new would be better. NOT

    NO to raw bread dough, spits spats, yuk yuk. and yes yes yes to raw cookie dough.

  5. Nice post. Made me laugh.

    Not to be a downer, but mom's blogging has surpassed ours in a mere few short months. You have people finding your blog from mom's, and mom regularly has more comments then we do. And have you seen her hit counter already? Ay ay ay.

    Yes, like Frankenstein, we have created a monster. Only thing left to do is form and angry mob and chase her down with pitchforks and torches.

    Kiddin', ma.


    I think not.