As is fast becoming tradition, the first part of this week's technical challenge required me to source some unheard of ingredient in order to make the recipe. This week it was that store cupboard staple of psyllium husk powder, which I ended up purchasing online immediately after watching the show. I found it at a website that sells all sorts of powders and supplements, for what generally appear to be people far sportier than me. The powder was cheap compared to other places, and they did next day delivery which meant my weekend baking tradition could continue. Unfortunately they have since started sending me emails entitled "your journey starts here" featuring images of people with large muscles and tiny clothes. I feel like I have inadvertently joined a club which I really am not supposed to be a member of, but it is an intriguing insight into an alternative, protein-powder fuelled universe. Quite how anyone can start a journey based around something that looks like this is quite beyond me:
Just be grateful I didn't include the after picture, whereby, having left the powder to "thicken" I came back to a solidified, gelatinous mass that was an unappealing shade of brown, rather like a quivering lump of set chicken stock. It certainly didn't conjure up images of freshly baked bread.
The nigella seeds were another ingredient I hadn't used before, but I definitely plan to use them again, as they had a lovely aroma, and added great flavour to the bread.
Despite the mystery ingredient, in something of a revelation, after my previous experience with bread, I absolutely loved this recipe! Now it may be that I did something wrong, because despite the warnings that this would be a sticky dough, I found it really easy to manage. It rose really well, and I found it kept it's shape when I came to portion it and roll it. I had ended up leaving it to rise a little longer than required, as we took the dog out for a walk, and so I think I ended up with slightly bigger pittas than perhaps I should have.
The other thing that was great about this recipe was how simple it was. After the last few weeks of quite labour intensive, and time consuming, recipes, this felt like an absolute breeze, and far more realistic for home-baking. It was a nice change not to give up several hours of the weekend to complete a technical challenge.
The only thing about making 12 pittas, is that they're not quite as easy to use up as cake. It's a lovely gesture to call in to the neighbours with a few slices of cake, or some cinnamon biscuits, but dropping off a couple of pitta breads is just a bit weird. We did our best to use them up, eating some warm from the oven, and then having them with dinner at night, but within a few days they had gone a quite stale.
They weren't particularly pretty pittas, and they definitely weren't uniform. I ended up with lots of shapes and sizes. The flavour was really good, although I think I perhaps rolled them a little too thick as they had a consistency more like a naan bread. We had them with curry one night, and with a beef stew another night, and they worked well with both dishes, although they were a bit denser than normal pitta. I think some of this was down to it having over proved, resulting in quite a coarse, thick bread.
Overall though, I'm glad I had a go at these. I wouldn't have known they were gluten-free, and it was an easy recipe to make. I didn't get a decent pitta pocket in them all, some did, but I think I rushed some of them out of the oven too quickly. While I don't think this was my most successful bake so far, it was good fun, I made something new, and I finally found a bread recipe I enjoyed, which feels like a minor miracle. The next miracle will be tracking down the mystery ingredients for the next recipe!
Paul Hollywood's Gluten Free Pitta Breads
Reproduced from BBC Food
Makes 12 pittas. Prep time over 2 hours. Cooking time 10-30 minutes.
- 30g psyllium powder
- 750g gluten free flour
- 3 tbspn nigella seeds
- 15 g sugar
- 1 tbspn salt
- 21g instant yeast
- 3 large free-range eggs
- 1 tbspn white wine vinegar
- 6 tbspn olive oil
- Mix psyllium powder into 300ml of cold water and leave mixture to thicken.
- Place flour and nigella seeds into a large bowl. Add the sugar and salt to one side of the bowl, and add the yeast to the other side of the bowl.
- Crack the eggs into the middle of the bowl, add the vinegar, oil, and psyllium mixture and stir well until a dough forms. Gradually add up to 300ml water (although you may not need it all) to make a soft, slightly sticky dough.
- Flour a work surface, turn out the dough, and knead until dough is smooth. Return dough to the bowl, cover and leave for an hour and a half, or until dough has doubled in size.
- Heat oven to 220C/200C Fan, and place three baking trays in oven to heat.
- When dough is risen, turn out and divide into twelve portions. Flatten and shape each portion into an oval around 4mm thick. Lightly dust the baking trays with flour and place the pittas onto the trays.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly coloured and the dough has puffed up. Remove from oven and wrap in a clean tea towel to keep fresh.