Golden Pita Bread


Golden Pita Bread
Pita bread is one of those things (like English muffins, like soft pretzels) that most people simply don’t think of making. “It’s too hard. It won’t work. They won’t puff up.” Baloney. This is just a simple white bread recipe cooked in an unusual way. They will puff up; honest. And fresh, golden pita bread, hot from the oven, is a revelation; it makes those packaged pitas pale (literally) by comparison. Plus, pita bread is a key element in Fattoush, a delicious Lebanese salad — give it a try sometime.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons King Arthur Easy-Roll Dough Improver*
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

*Optional, but it relaxes the dough, allowing you to roll it into pita shapes much more easily. Also, the bit of baking powder in the Relaxer helps puff up the pitas.

Preparation

  1. Combine all of the ingredients, mixing to form a shaggy/rough dough.
  2. Knead the dough, by hand (10 minutes) or by mixer (5 minutes) or by bread machine (set on the dough cycle) till it’s smooth.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and allow it to rest for 1 hour; it’ll become quite puffy, though it may not double in bulk. If you’ve used a bread machine, simply let the machine complete its cycle.
  4. Turn the dough onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide it into 8 pieces.
  5. Roll two to four of the pieces into 6″ circles (the number of pieces depends on how many rolled-out pieces at a time can fit on your baking sheet).
  6. Place the circles on a lightly greased baking sheet and allow them to rest, uncovered, for 15 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 500°F. (Keep the unrolled pieces of dough covered. Roll out the next batch while the first batch bakes.)
  7. Place the baking sheet on the lowest rack in your oven, and bake the pitas for 5 minutes; they should puff up. (If they haven’t puffed up, wait a minute or so longer. If they still haven’t puffed, your oven isn’t hot enough; raise the heat for the next batch.)
  8. Transfer the baking sheet to your oven’s middle-to-top rack and bake for an additional 2 minutes, or until the pitas have browned.
  9. Remove the pitas from the oven, wrap them in a clean dishtowel (this keeps them soft), and repeat with the remaining dough.
  10. Store cooled pitas in an airtight container or plastic bag.

Tips from our bakers

  • Pita bread can be a bit temperamental; it doesn’t always puff. And when it doesn’t, don’t despair. It’s still soft and delicious.
  • For sandwiches, simply wrap a pita around the filling, rather than splitting and filling.

Artisan Bread Bowls


Hollow out the center of these tasty bread bowls, and fill with stew or chili.

  •  3¾ cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  •  ½ cup King Arthur whole wheat flour or pumpernickel flour
  •  ¼ cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
  •  1½ teaspoons instant yeast
  •  2 teaspoons salt
  •  2 tablespoons olive oil
  •  1½ cups lukewarm water, enough to make a smooth, soft dough
  1. Mix and knead together all of the ingredients—by hand, mixer or bread machine—till you’ve created a smooth dough.
  2. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes; it should become puffy.
  3. Divide the dough into 5 pieces.
  4. Roll each piece into a ball.
  5. Place on a lightly greased or parchment covered baking sheet.
  6. Cover the bread bowls with greased plastic wrap.
  7. Refrigerate for 4 hours (or up to 24 hours); this step will give the bread bowls extra flavor, and a delightfully crisp-chewy texture.
  8. Two or more hours before serving, remove the bread bowls from the refrigerator. Uncover, and let them sit for about 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 425°F.
  9. Just before baking, slash the top surface of the bowls several times to allow them to expand.
  10. Bake for 22 to 28 minutes, until the bowls are deep brown, and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
  11. Remove from the oven, and cool on a rack.

Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies


Cookies

  •   2¼ cups King Arthur whole wheat flour, White Wheat or Traditional
  •  1 teaspoon baking soda
  •  1 teaspoon baking powder
  •  ½ teaspoon salt
  •  ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, soft
  •  ½ cup brown sugar
  •  ¾ cup peanut butter, crunchy or smooth, your choice
  •  1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  •  2 large eggs
  •  1½ cups buttermilk
  •  1 cup chocolate chips, optional

 Filling

  •  ⅓ cup Dutch-process cocoa, sifted
  •  ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  •  ¼ teaspoon salt
  •  ½ cup heavy cream
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
  •  ½ cup vegetable shortening
  •  4 cups sifted glazing sugar OR confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions

For the Cookies

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line them with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the the butter, brown sugar, and peanut butter. Beat in the vanilla.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl to make sure everything is evenly mixed.
  4. Add one third of the dry ingredients, and mix until moistened. Add half of the buttermilk, and mix until combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl, then add the remaining flour mixture and remaining buttermilk. Scrape the bowl again during this process; the peanut butter tends to stick to the bottom.
  5. When the batter is evenly mixed, stir in the chocolate chips, if using. Scoop by the quarter cup for large pies onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 1½ inches between each scoop.
  6. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the tops spring back when lightly touched, and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack before filling.

For the Filling

  1. Place the cocoa, chips, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer, either in the microwave or in a small pan on the stove, and pour it over the chocolate.
  3. Stir until the mixture is smooth, add the vanilla, and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and shortening with half of the confectioners’ sugar until fluffy.
  5. The mixture will go through a crumbly stage, where it doesn’t seem it will come together. That’s OK; just keep beating.
  6. Once the mixture becomes smooth, add half of the cooled chocolate mixture, and beat until it’s incorporated.
  7. Be sure to scrape the bowl: you can see why.
  8. Add the remaining chocolate and confectioners’ sugar, and beat until you have a fluffy, spreadable mixture.
  9. Add another tablespoon or two of cream if necessary, to adjust the consistency of the filling.

To assemble: Scoop and spread 2 tablespoons of filling onto the bottom of one of the cookies. Place another cookie, bottom toward the filling, to make the whoopie pie.

Kaiser Rolls


These deli-style “bulky rolls” are perfect for over-stuffed sandwiches. Top them with sesame or poppy seeds for that authentic “bakery look”

  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1½ teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup water

Manual Method:

  1. In a large bowl, or the bowl of your electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients, stirring till the dough forms a cohesive mass and begins to clear the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, then allow it to rest for 10 minutes (which gives the dough a chance to absorb the liquid, and the gluten in the flour a chance to relax.) Knead the dough for an additional 5 minutes, or until it’s smooth and supple. The dough should be quite stiff, but not at all “gnarly;” adjust its consistency with additional flour or water, as necessary. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or dough-rising bucket, cover the bowl or bucket, and allow the dough to rise till it’s noticeably puffy, about 1 hour.

Bread Machine Method:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into the pan of your machine, program the machine for manual or dough, and press start. About 10 minutes before the end of the final kneading cycle, examine the dough’s consistency; it should be quite stiff, but not at all “gnarly;” adjust it consistency with additional flour or water, as necessary. Allow the machine to complete its cycle.

Shaping:

  1. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into six equal pieces. Shape the pieces into round balls, and place them on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Working with one ball of dough at a time, center your kaiser stamp over the dough. Press down frimly, cutting to the bottom but not all the way through the dough. This is important; if you don’t cut deeply enough, the shape disappears as the roll bakes; if you cut too deeply (all the way through), the roll will form “petals” as it rises and look like a daisy, not a kaiser roll. Practice makes perfect! Repeat with the remaining rolls. See How to Shape Kaiser Rolls for alternate method.
  2. Place the rolls cut-side down (yes-cut-side down–this helps them retain their shape) onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the rolls, and allow them to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until they’ve almost doubled in volume. Turn the rolls cut-side up. Dip tops in milk and coat with poppy or sesame seeds, if desired.
  3. Bake the rolls in a preheated 425°F oven for 15 to 17 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a wire rack.

Yield: six large kaiser rolls.

Carl’s Cinnamon Rolls


Cinnamon rolls — what better way to wake up early on a sunny winter morning than with the smell of cinnamon wafting through the house? The following recipe comes from Carl Nelson of Whittier, California, who wrote to thank us for our catalogue, and to say he appreciates “the interesting items and ingredients that are not easy to find locally.” He also sent a photo of himself with the note, “Enclosed is a photo of me proudly displaying my last batch of cinnamon rolls. They made quite a hit with our family and friends.”

Carl also wrote the following: “My dad and mother were born in Sweden, where Dad had a seven-year apprenticeship in baking before he came to this country. Dad and I operated, for a number of years, the largest Swedish bakery in the West. It was located in Los Angeles, and we enjoyed having some interesting customers: Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman (she didn’t come in person — her uncle shopped for her), and each week we delivered an order to Mary Pickford at Pickfair. There were others, of course.

“I miss the baking business, but try to keep my hand in the dough at home. A couple of years ago I purchased a Zojirushi bread machine. Our friends thought I had gone bonkers. Although I did use the machine for a time to bake bread from start to finish, I was not pleased by the fact that, with the pre-timing of the process, loaves would not be uniform in size. Therefore, when I use the machine (and I still do occasionally), I use it for preparation of the dough only, after which I mold the loaf and place it in a regular bread pan. This way, I can adjust the rising time according to weather conditions, etc. And not only that, with this method it resembles a traditional loaf of bread — I like that!

Dough

  • ½ cup lukewarm water
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 2 cups lukewarm milk
  • 8½ cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dry malt powder (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon ascorbic acid (optional)

Filling

  • 1½ cups light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup cinnamon
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Frosting

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • grated zest and juice of ½ orange
  • 1 to 1½ tablespoons hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico, or almond liqueur, such as Amaretto

Manual Method:

  1. Dissolve the yeast and ½ teaspoon sugar in the lukewarm water.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer, and mix until fairly smooth. Knead the dough, by hand for 10 minutes, or with your mixer equipped with the dough hook for 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth and supple.
  3. Turn the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise until puffy, 1 to 2 hours.

Bread Machine Method:

  1. Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your bread machine, program the machine for Dough or Manual, and press Start. Check the dough during the final 10 minutes of the kneading cycle, adding additional flour or water as needed to produce a smooth, supple dough. Allow the machine to complete its cycle.
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface; divide it in half. Working with one piece at a time, pat and then roll the dough into an 18 x 24-inch rectangle.

Filling:

  1. Brush the dough with the butter, leaving a 1-inch bare edge along one long side. (The Reduced Version substitutes milk for the butter. The milk wash will act like glue to keep the filling from oozing out.)
  2. Combine the remaining filling ingredients — sugar, salt and cinnamon — and sprinkle them evenly over the dough.

Assembly:

  1. Starting with a long edge, roll the dough into a long log (not too tightly, or the centers of the rolls will pop up during baking). Make sure to finish up at the edge that isn’t brushed with milk or butter. Brush that edge with water and pull it up over the log, pinching to seal. Roll the log so it’s seam-side-down on your work surface.
  2. Use a ruler to mark off 1½-inch intervals, then use a serrated knife to gently cut 20 rolls; you may also loop dental floss around the log at each interval and pull, which gives you a nice, clean cut. Transfer the rolls to lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about 1-inch between each roll. These will fit on a full-sheet pan or two half-sheet pans.
  3. Brush the sides of each roll with melted butter or vegetable oil, if desired; this makes the rolls easier to pull apart after they’re baked. Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap, and set them aside to rise until puffy but perhaps not doubled in bulk, about 1½ hours.
  4. Bake the rolls in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, reversing the pans midway through. They should be golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool slightly, as you prepare the frosting.

Frosting:

  1. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, cinnamon, salt, orange juice and rind (or orange oil), and liqueur. Beat until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. The mixture should be of spreading consistency, like a soft butter cream frosting.
  2. Using a metal spatula, frost the rolls while they’re warm. Remove them from the pan, and allow them to cool on a wire rack. Eat them soon, or freeze them, well wrapped, for later use. (If you’re going to freeze the rolls, it’s better not to frost them before freezing.)

To Reheat Rolls:

  1. Remove the rolls from the freezer, and allow them to thaw, in their wrapping, at room temperature. This will take 1 to 1½ hours, more or less.
  2. Remove the wrapping, and bake the rolls in a preheated 350°F oven for about 7 minutes, or until they’re very hot.
  3. Remove them from the oven, and frost them.
  4. To reheat in the microwave, remove the rolls from their wrapping and microwave for no more than 30 seconds. Better still, heat them in a microwave set on defrost until they’re warm.
  5. Serve rolls immediately.

Yield: 40 rolls.

Note: If orange juice and zest are omitted, add a little more of the liqueur.

Carl’s Cinnamon Rolls, Reduced Yield Version

Even cutting Carl’s recipe in half, the above recipe will feed a crowd. The following is our adaptation — which includes a few ingredient amount changes, makes a more manageable amount, and can be prepared with the help of a bread machine. We print the two sets of ingredients, and one set of directions, which remain the same no matter which version you use. We think you’ll find these rich swirls of cinnamon and sugar a delight, and we thank Carl for his generosity in sharing.

(To make 20 rolls)

Dough

  • ¼ cup (2 ounces) water
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) milk
  • 4¾ cups (19 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons (4¼ ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon Lora Brody Bread Dough Enhancer

Filling

  • 2 tablespoons milk (The milk wash will act like glue to keep the filling from oozing out.)
  • ¾ cup (5½ ounces) light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2½ tablespoons (⅝ ounce) ground cinnamon

Frosting

  • ¼ cup (½ stick, 2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (3½ ounces) confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅜ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon orange oil
  • 1½ to 2½ teaspoons hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico, or almond liqueur, such as Amaretto

Flaky Pastry


This is somewhere between a rich traditional pie dough and puff pastry, and the traditional pastry for Eccles cake or Ecclefechan tart. It’s somewhat easier to make than puff pastry, but it does require the requisite “turns” that a true puff pastry is made with. Once this dough is made, however, it will keep, well wrapped, for several days in the refrigerator, and for several months in the freezer. You can use the dough for puff pastry shells, turnovers, cheese straws, or a quick, improvised pie crust.

  • 4 cups (17 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks, 6 ounces) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup (6 ounces) fresh lard (or shortening, if preferred)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1¼ cups (10 ounces) water
  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, blend the flour and salt together. Take one quarter (3 tablespoons) of each type of fat and rub it into the flour/salt mixture with your fingertips until it resembles cornmeal.
  2. Mix the lemon juice with the water, and stir into the flour/fat mixture until you have a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it’s smooth.
  3. With a well-floured rolling pin, roll the dough out until it’s about 7 inches wide and 21 inches long. If the dough sticks at any point, slide a bench knife or spatula under it and throw a little flour underneath. Take 3 tablespoons more of each type of fat and dot them over the top two-thirds of the dough. Fold the bottom third up over the middle third and the top third down over that. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
  4. After the dough has chilled a bit, take it out of the fridge, unwrap it and roll it out again until it’s about 7 inches by 21 inches. Repeat with the next 3 tablespoons of each of the fats and fold as you did before. Chill and repeat the same process one final time. This time roll the dough out again before chilling it and fold once more, this time without adding any additional fat. Wrap and chill the dough for at least 45 minutes before using it. It’s easier if you make it the day before.

Yield: 2 pounds pastry dough.

Kolaches, Sweet & Savory


The sour cream-enhanced dough for these rich, tender buns is a real pleasure to work with, particularly after its overnight refrigeration. This recipe was inspired by one from the Texas Highways magazine Web site; it, in turn, was adapted from a recipe by Dorothy Kubena, “a long-time participant in Caldwell’s Kolache Festival.” We provide the directions for two different fillings: sausage (which requires a somewhat different shaping technique), and pineapple. The pineapple filling comes from the Christian Sisters, from the Taylor Brethren Church in Taylor, Texas (via the AARP Web site–see what I mean about “combining the best parts of several”?)

Dough

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine*, melted
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast OR 1 packet active dry yeast
  • ½ cup lukewarm water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

*If you use unsalted butter or margarine, add an additional 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Pineapple Filling

  • 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained*
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch OR Instant ClearJel(r)
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

*If you’re using cornstarch as the thickener, reserve 3 tablespoons of the pineapple juice, in which you’ll dissolve the cornstarch.

Streusel Topping

  • ⅔ cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup (about 5⅔ tablespoons) melted butter

Dough:

  1. Warm the sour cream gently, and combine it with the sugar, salt, and butter or margarine in a large mixing bowl, the bowl of an electric mixer, or the bucket of your bread machine. Cool the mixture to lukewarm (if it isn’t already that temperature), and add the yeast (if you’re using active dry yeast, dissolve it in the water first), warm water, eggs, and flour. Mix and knead the dough, using your hands, a mixer, or a bread machine, till it’s soft and smooth. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the dough overnight. Note: This dough won’t rise much, so don’t worry about having to put it in a huge bowl.
  2. Next day, remove the dough from the fridge, and divide it into about 20 pieces, each 1¾ ounces, about the size of a golf ball. Place the pieces on lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about an inch between them. Flatten the balls till they’re about ½-inch thick, cover them with a proof cover or lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow them to rest for 10 minutes.

Pineapple Filling: In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the drained pineapple to boiling. If you’re using Instant ClearJel(r), mix it with the sugar, and stir this mixture into the pineapple. Immediately remove the filling from the heat, and stir in the melted butter. Cool to lukewarm before using.

If you’re using cornstarch, mix it with the reserved pineapple juice. Stir the dissolved cornstarch and the sugar into the hot pineapple, and cook over medium heat, stirring, till the mixture thickens and becomes clear. Remove it from the heat, and let it cool to lukewarm before using.

Streusel Topping: In a small bowl, mix together the flour and sugar, then add the butter, stirring till crumbs form.

Assembly: Using your fingers, make a wide, deep indentation in the center of each flattened dough ball. Don’t be afraid of being decisive here; you want to make a deep enough indentation that it doesn’t just disappear as the buns rise and bake. Place about 1 tablespoon of the filling into each bun; crumble a little of the streusel on top. Cover the kolaches, and allow them to rise for about an hour; they won’t necessarily double in bulk.

Bake the kolaches in a preheated 350°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, till they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and serve warm, or at room temperature.

Yield: about 20 kolaches.

Sausage Kolaches

The dough for these is the same as for the pineapple kolaches above; just the shaping is different.

  1. Fry or boil 20 small (2½-inch or so) breakfast sausage links till cooked through. Allow them to cool.
  2. Divide the dough into 20 pieces, and shape each piece into a flattened oval. Place a sausage on each oval and pull the dough over it, sealing the edge and ends, to enclose the sausage completely. Smooth out the kolaches as best you can, so they look nice. Cover them, and allow them to rise for 1 hour; they won’t necessarily double in bulk.
  3. Bake the kolaches as directed above. Brush them with melted butter when they come out of the oven, if desired.

Yield: about 20 sausage kolaches.

Note: Though this probably isn’t traditional, I think a bit of shredded cheddar cheese, and/or a dab of mustard, would be good rolled inside the kolache with the sausage.