Friday, November 20, 2009

Puffy bread

Have I mentioned that it's hot? Stinking hot? Late-January hot? (Or, for those of you up north, Boston-in-August hot?) So hot, in fact, that I'm starting to think longingly of mid-winter in Kansas?

(Yes, of course, I realize that that means eventually I'll have to contend with summer in Kansas, which I hear is not much different from what I'm currently experiencing, but I'll think about that later. Allow me my escapist fantasy for the moment.)

So hot that I'm avoiding turning the dryer on because it heats up the bathroom too much. And as for the oven…ugh.

I've been doing pretty well with finding work-arounds to avoid using the oven (hello, my darling slow cooker). I especially wanted to not do any bread baking, since that involves turning the oven up as hot as it will go—not a desirable prospect when the whole house already feels like an oven. But I still wanted some bread. Actually, more to the point, Miss B wanted some bread, and was prepared, in the way of all self-respecting five-year-olds, to ask for it as many times as it took to convince me to make some.

From somewhere I dredged up a memory of reading a blog post about cooking pita bread in a skillet, and (without actually going back to check) decided to try that with some of the bread dough that is ever-present in my refrigerator. So I followed the usual procedure for rolling out pita bread (see below), and preheated a cast-iron skillet; threw in the flattened disks of dough, one by one; and with very little fuss or sweat produced some very tasty flatbreads. They even puffed a little bit!

Miss B devoured all of hers and part of mine, and I've made them another three times this week. It was only when I went back to track down the link above that I noticed that, while you do cook the pita bread in a skillet, you're supposed to put the skillet in a very hot oven.

Oh well. I'm sticking with my method. At least until the temperatures drop below 30C/90F.

Puffy skillet bread
This bread cooks up like a cross between pita and naan. You should get enough puff to be able to rip them open and stuff things in them.

1 batch bread dough, already made and risen in the fridge*

Figure out how many flatbreads you want to make. Pull off that many lumps of dough and roll each into a smooth ball. (I do this by cupping my hand over the dough lump and rolling it around on the counter. A good size lump is one that fits comfortably under your cupped hand.) Leave to rest and rise on the counter for 10-20 minutes, depending upon how cold the dough is.

After the dough has rested and risen a bit (it won't look too much different, but a bit), flatten into thin disks with a rolling pin. Sprinkle with flour as necessary while rolling to keep from sticking. Leave to rest for another 10 minutes or so. While this step is happening, preheat a skillet (nonstick or cast iron).**

Cook each disk for 2-3 minutes a side in the hot pan or until starting to brown in spots. It may puff up,*** but will probably collapse when you take it off the heat.

Serve immediately, with hummus, soup, salad, dip….

* I'm working on a batch I made three days ago. The fridge makes it rise very slowly, and develops the flavor.
** You may need to experiment with how hot to make it, depending upon your stove and pan. I started off with mine turned way up high—bad idea. I am now preheating the pan thoroughly on low-to-almost-medium heat.
*** Sprinkling or spritzing with water may help with the puffing...but it will probably still collapse shortly.


Sad Rabbit said... Best Blogger Tips

"Yes, of course, I realize that that means eventually I'll have to contend with summer in Kansas, which I hear is not much different from what I'm currently experiencing, but I'll think about that later. "

But at least it will be at the right time of the year!!! Summer in January? Piffle and hogwash!

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

This is true--I think part of my inability to cope with the heat *is* psychological and based on the fact that I think I'm supposed to be cold.

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