If you are my facebook friend you may have seen this pop up on your newsfeed on Sunday.
At which point, I’m pretty sure you would have thought to yourself “dang self, that girl is cr-azy!” And you are right. The following is what possessed me to bake bread, pitas, cookies and to prepare a lasagna (featuring… of course… homemade noodles) AT THE SAME TIME, and there I found myself—alone in my kitchen with three bags of flour, a mixer, a pasta maker, and other baking things.
LASAGNA: I’d been planning the lasagna with fresh noodles for Sunday’s dinner (this mushroom lasagna from a post of yore, but without asparagus, because that was a fail), so that was what started this whole thing. Since I was going to be in the kitchen anyways, I decided that I would make …
PITAS: I had been planning on trying my hand at fresh pitas for Monday’s dinner because the good ones are so expensive and the bad ones are so bad. I just decided to do my prep work on Sunday (recipe at the end of this post because these might win and award for the world’s best pitas)! And since I had my mixer and flour out, why the heck not make some …
BREAD: All week long I had been pondering my previous loaves of bread. They were dense. Seriously dense. And all I wanted in my life was some fluffy sandwich bread. A bit of research told me it could have been my flour (remember when I told you you don’t need bread flour? well, that’s true… as long as you don’t mind some serious dense bread). I also realized that I was using instant yeast as if it were active dry yeast, and I don’t think I was letting my bread prove (proof?) for long enough—though you don’t really need to prove (proof?) with instant yeast, so who knows. Baking is hard. But I decided that Sunday was the time to try a brand new formula. And for some reason, I decided that on top of all of these things, I needed to make …
COOKIES: I was planning on simple flour-less peanut butter cookies, but the hubs put in a request for chocolate chip cookies, and since I’m nothing if not flexible (and already had all my bags of flour out), I figured “why not”!
About 45 minutes into the baking bonaza, things were looking good! I’d gotten bread rising (top right corner), noodles drying, and cookies baked and cooling.
But I’m a bit of a tornado people, so if you turned around and looked back into the kitchen, you would see this.
Pretty impressive, right?
The cookies were recommended not only by The Girl Who Ate Everything, but also by 5,731 people (at the time of writing) on allrecipes.com. And they were delicious. The hubs thinks they may be the best he’s ever tried. And whenever anyone says anything is the best anything… I immediately think “Challenge Time!” So, I’ve got a new chocolate chip cookie challenge in my life. Do you think you’ve got the world’s best chocolate chip cookie recipe? Send it on! Chcolate Chip Cookie Challenge 2012, here we come!
And by 5:04 PM (only 3.5 hours after getting to the kitchen, I had successfully baked all the things)! More technically, I had successfully baked bread and cookies and prepared mushroom lasagna and pitas for baking at a later time.
I wish I could share my bread recipe. But I don’t remember exactly what I did, though I was sure—several times during the process—that I had failed. I mixed my yeast, water, and bread flour and let that sit for about 30 minutes—while I baked cookies—before adding my whole wheat flour. After a crazy flour explosion in the mixer, and the need to hand knead to mix the flours before putting it back in the mixer to knead, and adding more and more water until my flour just barely pulled away from the sides of the bowl, and then setting to rise, and then beating it down and proving (proofing?) it before baking. But it worked! It’s delicious and fluffy! Now, to see if I can ever do it again!
But let’s talk about the pitas. Please drop what you are doing and go make homemade pitas. They are so good. And pretty easy. And so much cheaper than the good ones at the shops. Seriously, these babies compete with the pitas in Greece.
Adapted (that’s right, I adapted a baking recipe) from The Fresh Loaf
Makes 4-5 pitas, adapt as necessary for more!
- 1.5 cups flour (I used 1 cup bread flour and 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour)
- 3/4 teaspoons salt (thanks mystery commenter email@example.com for catching this, amongst other, omissions!)
- 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
- 1 teaspoon yeast (or 1/2 packet)
- 2/3 to 3/4 cups water, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- If you are using active dry yeast, follow the instructions on the packet to active it. Otherwise, mix the yeast in with the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the olive oil and 2/3 cup water and stir together with a wooden spoon. All of the ingredients should form a ball. If some of the flour will not stick to the ball, add more water until it sticks.
- Knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes on low (1) for 10 minutes. (The Fresh Loaf says you can also hand knead for 10 minutes.)
- Form a ball of dough and place in a bowl that has been lightly coated with oil. Roll the ball of dough around in the bowl so that it has a light coat of oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and set aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.
- Punch the dough down to release some of the trapped gases and divide it into 4-5 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes. You can also store in the fridge for a day or so at this stage.
- While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to preheat as well. If you do not have a baking stone, turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it on the middle rack of the oven while you are preheating the oven. This will be the surface on which you bake your pitas.
- Spread a light coating of flour on a work surface and place one of the balls of dough there. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough and use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch and flatten the dough to between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch thick. If the dough does not stretch, cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.
- Place as many pitas as you can on the hot baking surface. They should be baked through and puffy after 3 minutes. If you want your pitas to be crispy and brown you can bake them for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. They’ll puff up like crazy, it’s actually pretty cool!
- Enjoy the world’s most fresh and delicious pitas. Seriously, these babies compete with the pitas in Greece.