Fractional baking for men: Pita Bread and Flapjacks

As I have mentioned in a few previous posts I have taken on the role of chief cook and bottle washer for my sister in the Yorkshire Dales. My tasks are varied and something I’m doing on quite a regular basis is baking; I know this might not be considered the task of your everyday Yorkshire man, but it’s something I have always liked doing and I have managed to add a few more recipes to my repertoire.

In my quest to become as proficient as possible I have found myself doing away with the scales and judging the quantities of ingredients I use in an attempt to make appear that I know what I’m doing. So the following recipes and methods are recounted from memory, only using the scales once, just to see how accurate I actually am. By the way don’t be put off by the title, the intention is not to eat them together, but if you happen to do so then I would be interested to hear your comments 🙂

Ok, here goes, hold on tight and don’t be scared: By the way I added a few links on kneading bread and knocking back, but don’t worry if your dough doesn’t look like the video, neither did mine!

Pita Bread (makes anything from 10 to 12)

  • A third of a bag of bread flour; about 500g (I used 250g white and 250g wholemeal)
  • A packet of  fast acting yeast
  • A splash of olive oil
  • A good pinch of salt
  • A pinch of sugar
  • About a half of pint (250-300ml) of warm water

The most difficult thing about the recipe is judging the quantity of flour, but by using the power of fractions, safe in the knowledge that you know how much flour is in the bag you stared off with, it’s quite easy to work out.

A full bag of flour in my case was 1.5 Kg so a quick calculation means that I need a third of a bag; or a sixth of a bag of white and a sixth of a bag of wholemeal (easy?) I have to admit that I checked to see how well I had gauged it and I came out with 547g; a variation that is easily dealt with by adding a tad more water.

Take a bowl, sieve in the flour (I forgot to) add the packet yeast, the salt, the sugar and slug of oil, mix it up, add your water and mix again. It’s better to add too little than too much and I turn my mixture out on to the board with quite a bit of dry mixture still remaining.

Start to knead the bread and if you don’t manage to pick up all the dry mix in the process then add a splash or two of water until all the mix is incorporated. Kneading is a process of folding the dough mixture to trap air and stretching it to create the gluten (I think that’s what Gosia told me when I received my first baking lesson)

Knead for about 10 – 15 minutes; until the mixture takes on a kind of smooth silky pliable texture, if your not sure then just judge it by time, you cant go far wrong.

Lightly oil the bowl you used for mixing in the first place and place in your dough ball, cover with a damp tea towel and put somewhere warm for about 90 minutes (or until it doubles in size)

Meanwhile, you can start on the Flapjacks and you will need:

  • 180g of butter (about 3/4 of a standard block)
  • 180g of brown sugar (about a 1/5 of a 1Kg bag)
  • 2 good dollops of syrup
  • 360g of porridge oats (just over a 1/3 of a 1Kg box or bag)
  • 3 handfuls of cornflakes
  • 3 handfuls of seeds (I have used 2 of sunflower and 1 of pumpkin; use whatever you have, even dried fruits, or don’t add any at all; its not essential)

Pre heat your oven to 180°C (350F or Gas mark 4).

Put your butter in a pan over a very low heat and as it begins to melt add your brown sugar and syrup, let this mixture melt slowly and stir on a regular basis; meanwhile add your oats to a bowl along with your seeds and mix in the molten mix once it has melted together. Stir in to coat the ingredients and then add the cornflakes. You can add the cornflakes earlier but adding them last stops them breaking up too much.

Once mixed together you can use one of the ingredients I haven’t mentioned yet; a baking tray! I’ve used one about 30cm by 15cm by 4cm deep and lined it with grease proof paper with a little butter smeared over it to stop the mix sticking. Spoon in your mix and level it off, packing down as required, until you have a reasonably flat surface bang it in your preheated oven for about 15 minutes, maybe 20; keep an eye on it and when it starts to brown at the edges then its just about time to take it out and leave on the side to cool. When cool trun out and cut it up into equal parts.

Just in time, as the edges start to brown its time to take it out.
Just in time, as the edges start to brown its time to take it out.

Ok, how are you doing? As this is a mans guide then please grab yourself a bottle of beer, you have done really well and you deserve it, but only one for now as things are going to get intense now as we move back to our Pita Bread mix, which should be rising nicely by now and should be ready to go once you finish your beer.

Turn out your dough onto a wholemeal flour dusted board and knock back the mixture; this basically means taking the air out of it to get in back to close its original size, I do this by kneading again for a minute or two. Then roll out into a cylinder shape and divide the mixture in half, put one half back in your bowl and start on your remaining half, rolling out again and then dividing into 5 or 6 equal parts and roll each of these into balls; don’t worry if they are different sizes, it adds to the authenticity 🙂

Roll out the individual balls to make a rough oval shape about an 1/8 of an inch thick (3-4mm), place of a baking tray and put the damp tea towel over the top to let them rise for about another 30 minutes.

Crank up your oven to maximum whilst they are rising, then place the tray with your rolled pita breads on the middle shelf; they take about 5 minutes to bake and they should rise to create the pocket in this time, browning lightly on the top side; its all about judgement at this stage so take a quick look at 5 minutes and maybe give them a minute or two more if they haven’t puffed up.

Repeat the process with the remaining mix and you should end up with more than 10 pita breads; I ended up with 11, you may get 12 or more!

I also got 8 good sized flapjacks out of the recipe so we all have an energy boost available whilst walling for the next few days:)

Don’t worry, normal service will resume soon; I’m starting to gear up for Poland and I can’t wait to make these for Gosia and family as she doesn’t believe I have made them 🙂