Potato Pitta

Potato Pitta

Wotchers!

I love pitta bread – it reminds me of my years in the Middle East. Plus it’s always fun to have a sammich with the filling all neatly tucked away in a pocket: filling integrity being a very serious matter in the business of sandwich – and sammich – crafting.

The one niggle I have with regular pitta, is opening it to make room for the filling. It’s always a good idea to lightly toast your pitta under a grill before you try splitting it open. Hopefully, it will puff up and make the job a little easier. If it doesn’t, then you have to cut it open by hand and here’s where I get a little grumpy: there’s always a thin side and a thick side, and it only takes the slightest slip of the knife to poke a hole through one side and then your pocket has sprung a leak.

Not so with these beauties. For a start, they’re a little thicker than regular pitta, which means there’s actually some soft insides to slice through. Let me briefly digress into some advice on cutting pitta pockets. Some people favour cutting all down one side, but to my mind, this isn’t the best approach. Sure, it might give you a wide pocket into which to stuff your favourite fillings, but in doing so, you lose the structural integrity of the pitta and it becomes a two-handed juggle to keep everything from spilling out. Much better to take the bull by the horns and cut directly across the middle – which gives two pockets, each with a lovely straight opening and a well-formed structure for your filling. It might require a little more care in filling, but once it is in, it’s not going anywhere except in your mouth. You only need one hand to hold it, too. There’s also a real likelihood that I have spent WAY too much time thinking about this.

ANYHOO…..

Another attraction of these breads is that they’re deliciously soft, and remain so way past the shelf-life of regular pitta breads. The last of the previous batch I made stayed pillowy right up until I spotted a little mould starting – 9 days after baking!

They’re incredibly versatile – as well as sandwich pockets, lightly toasted and cut in ‘soldiers’ they’re great for dipping into hummus, moutable salad (roast aubergine + tahini, aka baba ghanoush), even a soft boiled egg. and they also make fab ‘instant’ pizza bases.

Lastly, they’re a great Deja Food. You can, of course, cook potatoes especially to make these, and their warmth will then assist the yeast in making the dough rise. However, you can just as easily use potatoes from previous meals with no discernible difference in the resulting bread. The batch in the photograph was made using the insides of 2-day old baked potatoes – once riced, I zapped them in the microwave for 30 seconds to warm them up a little before adding to the rest of the ingredients. Simples!

Potato Pitta

Makes 12 fluffy pitta breads.

350g cooked, riced potato
2 sachets fast-action yeast
2tsp caster sugar
1tsp salt
250ml whole milk
50ml vegetable oil
400-500g strong white bread flour

  • If the potatoes are cold, warm them briefly in the microwave for 30-45 seconds and tip into a large bowl.
  • Add the yeast to the potatoes.
  • Warm the milk to blood temperature.
  • Add the sugar and salt to the milk and stir to dissolve.
  • Add the oil to the milk, mix briefly, then add the liquids to the potatoes and yeast.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Gradually mix in the flour until a soft dough is achieved. From all the times I’ve made this, it’s pretty much 400g of flour that is needed, but a lot depends on the moisture content of both the flour and the potatoes. It’s better to have the dough too soft than too dry, so proceed with caution one 3/4 of the flour has been added.
  • Cover with cling film and leave to prove for 1 hour.
  • Tip out the risen dough and pat out the air.
  • Form into a ball, cover lightly with a cloth and allow to rest for a further 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Divide the dough into 12 even pieces and shape into balls. It’s worth taking the trouble to weigh the dough and divide it evenly, so that the breads are all of a similar size and therefore cook evenly. Don’t go mad with it, though – within 5g is plenty close enough.
  • Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into oval pitta shapes. They want to be fairly thin – no more than 1cm in order to keep them pitta shaped once baked, but again, don’t get too precious about it – “that’ll do” is fine.
  • Arrange on baking parchment-lined baking sheets and dust liberally with flour.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, turning the baking sheets around after 10 minutes, to ensure the breads bake evenly.
  • Cool on the baking sheet, covered with a clean cloth, to ensure the crust stays soft and pillowy.

 


9 Comments on “Potato Pitta”

  1. Jenna says:

    Looks incredibly tasty, and as I both have plenty of time on my hands today to kitchen putter (14 inches of snow outside, topped with about a solid inch of hard ice, means even WITH a 4-wheel drive Jeep, I’m limiting my outside excursions to the absolute minimum. Really wishing I could find a few dwarves willing to trade for a decent broom ala Nanny but at least I keep a well stocked pantry! Love how you seem to build so many tasty goodies out of pantry and larder staples. Makes life a lot easier.) AND a solid need for some bread to nosh on, seems like a great way to spend the afternoon. So far, all the recipes I’ve tried, both here on the site and in your excellent book have worked well, even with me having to substitute flours to make things gluten free – I’ve got a brand new GF bread flour mix to try – so I’m gonna trust that streak and plan on making some butter chicken to go along with for dinner. My husband should have something to look forward to, to help him get through the visit to his dad at the hospital tonight, and this will be just right. Thanks!

    • MAB says:

      Wotchers Jenna,

      Always a joy to hear from you!

      Funnily enough, I did try this recipe with a gluten-free bread flour, but it all went horribly wrong.
      Well, the result was still edible, but only just. I just did a straight substitution, and forgot to use any of the Xanthan Gum that’s been sitting in my cupboard for ages. I’m not terribly well versed in gluten-free, so I’m not even sure that was my only error, so please do let me know how it goes with you today, I’d be most interested in your results! M-A xx 😀

      • Jenna says:

        Thought I’d just let you know – first run at the GF attempt, close but not quite right yet, it’s going to need a few more runs up to the tower top by Igor (or was it Igor? Or possibly Igor? lol) holding a lightning rod to get it just right. I think I need to follow the line you laid down in the recipe using the riced potatoes (and how I do so love my ricer. I’m odd – kitchen toys, yarn and books are the gifts my husband knows to make me squeal, never really been a jewelry gal. And I’ll always prefer a new rose ~bush~ to a dozen cut roses) and the attempt I’m making today I’ll stick to potato flour, starch, with perhaps a bit of oat & millet to lighten the bread. From what came out of my oven the first try, this is looking like a bread that DOESN’T need the whole chemistry set. Instead of xanthan at all, I’m gonna try a pectin/gelatin mix I’ve had great luck before with flatbreads with. The bread that came out was edible, and not in any way terrible. (Granted, the amount of fresh butter, ricotta cheese and honey I drizzled over it would have made a brick a tasty lunch) But not right. Not yet. I’ll get there, and if you like when I do, I’ll send on the GF version recipe. I’ve almost stopped going to my “proper” GF cookbooks now that I read your site and have your book. Mostly because the switches are so easy, but also because so often it’s the food I grew up with. I hear my timer bipping, potatoes are done. Back to the lab!

      • MAB says:

        Thanks so much for reporting back, Jenna – I’d love to know the secret, if you do manage to get there. Mine were fantastically crispy on the outside, but still ‘gluey’ with undercooked potato on the inside, even with an extended cooking.time. Can’t wait for the next exciting installment! M-A xx 😀

  2. Jenna says:

    I’ll let you know, GF can be a real pain in the backend to have to fiddle with. The mix I’m going to try is a bit different then what I normally do, so today will be a complete surprise for me too. I don’t use ready made GF flour ever, too expensive and I haven’t found one that I am happy with, even if I ~wasn’t~ cheap! My kitchen looks like a cross between an ethnic market – and by that, I mean ALL ethnicities… I have 14 different types of rice alone, from all over the planet, from arborio to purple, popcorn to standard long-grain. I try to keep all my grains whole until I need to grind for a recipe – and a chemists cupboard. Different grains & starches, gums and powders. From pectin to xanthan, glycerin to soy protein isolate. And I make flours from everything from the ‘normal’ grains, popped popcorn, beans, and even some veggie flours using my dehydrator to first make things grindable. My husband went GF the day I was diagnosed as well – they had told him it was actually more likely I had terminal stomach cancer when they wheeled me into the operating room, and they were testing just to ‘humor’ me and make it easier for me to accept. And since we had only been married about 6 months at that point – having me come out with ‘just’ celiac, made him pretty thrilled. But since he eats GF at home as well, and cooking has always been something I love to do for people, the idea of ‘good, for gluten free’ just isn’t okay. So I pull on my mad scientist hat and an apron, crank up a book on tape, and bellow for Igor to bring me another beaker, I’ve had an idea! Here in the states, GF isn’t a term the government regulates yet, and most of the packaged flours are just awful – if not outright inedible. (I’ve read a lot lately that makes me think the UK has a better grip on the whole issue. Between the intelligent fact everyone ~weighs~ things, so much better to figure out GF then by volume and better guildlines, more and more I rely on UK cookbooks and blogs.

    I’m going to go mix up the pita dough in about an hour – had to grind up a bit more flour – using a new blend of GF bread flour that uses : white & brown rice flour, potato & corn starch, potato flour, gf oat flour, pectin, xanthan gum unflavored whey protein isolate and Ultratex 3 which is a modified tapioca starch. A real chemistry set of ingredients, I know, but if bought in bulk and ground as needed, STILL cheaper and tastier then GF breads here. A loaf of GF bread, ~1/3~ the size of a ‘normal’ loaf (not just in number of slices, but actual bread – most loaves are only 3×3.5 inches, make perhaps 5 sandwiches) and cost about $8 US! The ‘trick’ with the new flour blend I’m using is the whey protein making up for the lack of gluten and also, after the dough is mixed, it goes into the fridge to cold rise for at least 12 hours… which is why I’m suddenly glad my husband called and told me to make the butter chicken ~tomorrow~ since he will be home really late. I’ll have time to let the flour properly absorbed the liquids and give the recipe all the support it needs for the switch! Sorry for the ramble, GF cooking and baking is just a rather consuming thing for me – between finally being healthy after being too sick to get out of the bed, let alone the house for so many years, wanting my husband to never feel like he’s missing things eating GF with me, and now the fact I’ve finally been cleared by my doctor as strong enough to now start trying to expand our family – so if we manage to have children THEY won’t feel like they are deprived of ‘goodies’ – learning and sharing how to eat just as well despite being gluten free tends to make an already chatty birdbrain even MORE excessively verbose!

  3. Willemijn says:

    This sounds (and looks) delicious! I will definitely try this sometime soon!

  4. Pippa says:

    Many thanks again for another fab recipe! Presumably these are freezeable (even though I note the ‘freshness’ time!)


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