First Time Baking with Yeast – Whole Wheat Pitas (Sort Of)

I’ve recently landed on a newly invigorated “let’s have everything be organic and natural” kick (more on that another day), and I thought to myself, “Hey, maybe I could make bread on my own.” I buy whole wheat bread for the kids, and I try to buy a brand with the shortest list of unpronounceable ingredients, but fresh bread is delicious and I’d have complete control over what went into it. This plan completely ignored the fact that I’m not good at baking, not at all.

After a little internet search, I decided my first project would be whole wheat pitas. The people on the interwebs declared it easy. Oh, people of the interwebs, I should not trust you. After all, you’re the ones who led me to believe cake pops were easy, too. Evil.

Anyway, I found a few recipes and based my decision on star rating, because that just makes sense, doesn’t it? Landed on this whole wheat pita recipe at food.com. I had all the ingredients already (except yeast) and they sounded good.

My first problem was buying the yeast. The recipe just says “yeast.” Then you get to the grocery store and there are different kinds. Rapid rise and active and packets and, geez, how am I supposed to know which is the right kind? Women aren’t born with this knowledge! Omitted the ones that looked like they were for bread machines, because even I’m bright enough to realize I wouldn’t be using one of those, and selected a jar of active yeast. This was optimistic – I thought, maybe I’ll be so good at making bread I will use the whole thing. Ha.

Worked up my courage over the next few days. Even posted on Twitter that I’d be trying and a very encouraging woman told me I’d do well! Thought for about two seconds about using the KitchenAid mixer but told myself one complicated process at a time was enough for me. If I’d tried to use the mixer for the first time I certainly would have hurt myself somehow.

The recipe said to combine the water, honey and yeast and that it would get foamy. I mixed everything together and set the timer. After my five minutes were up I looked in the bowl and it was foamy-ish. But how foamy is foamy? Were there supposed to be peaks like in a bubble bath? Or did the little layer of froth apply?

I read the recipe again. Oops. I used too much water. The recipe said to use 1 1/4 cups of water. So that’s what I used. Only I realized later I was only supposed to use 1/2 a cup for the water-honey-yeast-get-foamy portion. Tossed out my mixture and started over.

With the proper measurements, my concoction foamed. I added the correct amount of flour and let it get bubbly, which is did. Success!

Then I added the remaining flour as instructed and was met with a gloppy mess. Totally sticky. I added extra flour by spoonfuls at a time hoping it would stop sticking, but no, still sticky. I became a little worried I was adding too much flour so I stopped and threw the whole sticky mess into my oiled bowl and crossed my fingers. Let the dough rise, and hooray, it rose.

Time to cut and roll out the dough. Punching it down (I’m slightly embarrassed to admit I had to watch a YouTube video to figure out what this meant) resulted in dough sticking to my knuckles. This didn’t seem right.

Floured my counter top and rolled a section into a ball. The flour on the counter seemed to help the stickiness, but when I tried to roll out the dough it would not roll out. It would get flatter but then spring back. The more I tried to roll it out the more it would stick to the rolling pin and arrghhh I was never ever going to make bread again. At this point I’d been at the project so long it would have been less time-consuming and less frustrating if I’d driven to a town one state away to buy my stupid pitas. Why does anyone bake at home when the grocery store is full of bread I can select in 3.8 seconds?

Disheartened, I slapped my “pitas” onto baking sheets, covered them and let them sit another 30 minutes. Preheated my oven and tossed them onto my baking stone. Set the timer and the bread came out, well, looking like bread. Not really like pita bread, because they were very thick, but bread-like nonetheless.

Called the kids downstairs. Held my breath as I cut into one. No pocket, which means my pita loosely resembled an appetizer-plate sized dinner roll, but it was edible food. Gave each kid a half and they devoured them. Miles said to me, “These are super awesome, Mom. Way better than the ones at the store.”

And so, my ugly pitas satisfied at least the little people in the house.

I will try again.

(If you have any easy bread recipes, I’m all ears – send me a link!)

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Comments

  1. joannagrote says:

    That last photo made me laugh! Good for you for trying. And at least the kids were happy. I’m afraid of yeast, and this just confirmed my fears. I have heard good things about bread machines. I actually got one for a wedding present used it once, lost the directions, and never figured out how to use it again. Maybe they’ve become easier in the last ten years? Fresh bread is so irresistible, however, my consumption would probably increase ten-fold, and that would cause other problems!

    • I was looking at bread machines, too! I think they would be good for a baking-challenged person like me. But they’re expensive, and just another appliance to clutter my counter.

  2. I love it! I bet the bread was delicious anyway. We should all start posting our less than successful efforts. I know Ive had many.

    If you want a recipe for the easiest bread ever, try this one: http://lightlycrunchy.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/bread-baking-for-lazy-people/

  3. I think the first thing I made with yeast was pita too and it was a big fail. My favorite thing to make was rosemary foccacia out of the Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook (the one with the red/white checked cover). It’s not multigrain but it tastes good…and has ingredients I can find in my pantry. Honestly though, once you get the hang of things all yeast breads are the same. You just have to figure out your kitchen, how far to go with the dough and how to make it rise. In the winter I turn my oven on at 180 for like 5 mins to get it warm, then turn it off, and then I stick my bowl of dough in with a towel over it so it can rise…I sometimes even do this in the summer since AC’s can keep houses so chill.

    King Arthur Flour (http://www.kingarthurflour.com/) is a great website for resources and their cook books are great too. I’ve also found that measuring by weight is way more precise (not to mention easier) when baking than measuring using cups.

Trackbacks

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