This year, Groundhog day found me in the kitchen baking, instead of outside in the cold and snow looking for my shadow! We were out of pita bread, and it was time to make some more. I usually make two batches at one time, since it makes sense to take advantage of the oven and baking stone while they are hot. This time I wanted to try the recipe for Whole Wheat Pita Bread from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads.
His recipe is more involved than my standard pita recipe, calling for a soaker and a biga on Day 1 with more ingredients and fermenting on Day 2. The dough was very easy to work with, and the pitas puffed up nicely in the oven.
The flavor of these 100% whole wheat pitas is great, but I haven’t decided if the results are worth the added effort of making them over a two day period. I think more research will be needed. And yes, more tasting is needed too!
I also baked spelt pitas the same day, using my usual recipe but substituting whole grain spelt flour for the whole wheat and adding 1 tbsp of vital wheat gluten. I probably should do a post on these some day, as the technique is a little different as well. We do love the flavor of spelt in breads. Of course, with all those pitas on hand we just had to make some pita pizzas!
I guess February was Pita Month, because a few days later I used some of the HB in Five Cracked Wheat dough to make pitas. This has become one of our favorite doughs to have on hand in the refrigerator, and I was anxious to see how it would perform for flatbreads. I have to say I was not disappointed.
The pitas puffed up nicely, and the cracked wheat adds a nice texture. I’ll be making these again soon. All of these pitas freeze well, and we try and always have some on hand in the freezer. They are so handy for pizzas, pocket sandwiches, and for making pita crisps.
February wasn’t all about pitas though. My wife baked some grissini using the Crack Wheat dough, and I baked some loaves of bread as well. I had an ulterior motive for these breads, but more about that later. I wanted to try the 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread from the King Arthur Whole Grain Baking book. And I baked a loaf of the HB in Five Cracked Wheat bread at the same time. Both breads are in the photo below, waiting to go in the oven.
The Cracked Wheat bread gets most of it’s rise from the oven spring. It even managed to crack a little on top, despite my having slashed it in several places before baking. I’ll have to make deeper slashes next time.
The 100% Whole Wheat bread had a beautiful, moist crumb and a wonderful taste. I will be making this loaf again for sure. The Cracked Wheat bread had a nice open, rustic look and great texture and flavor.
My ultimate use for some of these two breads was to make some Pineapple Upside-Down Bread Pudding from the KA Whole Grain Baking book. I really need to do a review on this book because I am getting a lot of good recipes out of it. This bread pudding has a pineapple, butter and brown sugar topping on it like an upside down cake. The pudding itself is made from whole wheat bread cubes and also has crushed pineapple and coconut in it. I took most of the pudding into the soup kitchen to share with others and it disappeared in no time!
Another recipe I made this month from the Whole Grain Baking book was a batch of cornbread I baked in a square cast iron pan. The recipe was for a ‘northern’ style cornbread that was half corn meal and half flour. I used some coarse stone ground corn meal which gave the bread a great taste and texture. The recipe called for whole wheat pastry and all purpose flour, and a little bit of honey for sweetener. It got two thumbs up from the HA taste testers, and had us going back for seconds. So far I am loving the recipes from this book.
That’s a peek at some of what was baking in February. I hope you enjoyed reading about the breads half as much as we enjoyed eating them!