Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Recipe #19/20: Lentil Pita Bread!

Well, we're nearing the end of this journey. So many crazy recipes over the last few months have been created from our dear friend: the lentil. I've learned so much about what this ingredient can do and hope that I've been able to pass a little of that along.

The last couple of weeks I've been contemplating what to do for the big one-nine. I wanted some sort of flatbread, but I wasn't sure what to do in particular. I settled on the pita, which has become quite popular in American culture over the last ten years. The recipe I used for the basis of this uses whole wheat flour. To lentilize it, I replaced a third of the flour with lentil flour and changed the whole wheat to semolina pasta flour to ensure proper gluten concentration.

The recipe worked quite well. Before this project, I hadn't worked with dough very much, but I'm starting to get the hang of it. The texture is spot-on for pita bread with a robust additional lentil flavor (not to mention nutrition). The one element that will probably take a little work is in rolling out the dough so that it forms the traditional uniform pocket when baked. Mine weren't great for filling as a sandwich, but were more than adequate for snacking on or dipping in hummus. Baking is a talent that requires a great deal of practice.

I hope you enjoy this dish and I shall start planning an epic tour de lentil for the final dish.

Lentil Pita Bread
Makes 8 pitas

1.5 cups dried lentils (I used yellow and red, but any will do)
2.25 cups semolina flour (whole wheat will do in a pinch)
1.5 tsp salt
1.5 Tbsp brown sugar
4 tsp fast-acting yeast
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 1/2 cups water
AP flour for rolling surface

1. Grind lentils for 60 seconds per batch in a spice grinder. Sift out mealy germ. Final volume should be about one cup.
2. Sift together lentil flour, semolina flour, salt and brown sugar.
3. Bloom yeast by adding to slightly warm water in a large bowl or stand mixer.
4. Add melted butter (as long as it isn't too hot!) to yeast and water.
5. Add dry goods to the bowl and mix with a whisk.
6. Either knead by hand until exhausted or with the hook attachment on the stand mixer for 10 minutes.
7. Place in a slightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for one hour.
8. Preheat oven to 450F. Punch down dough and divide into eight even pieces. Roll each into discs approximately 8" across and 1/8" thick.
9. Place discs on a greased baking sheet and bake until puffed up and slightly brown (approx. 3 min.)
10. Leave on baking sheet for approx. 60 sec. after removing from over, then transfer to a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining discs.

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