Friday, November 19, 2010

Bread disasters, one of which becomes pita

It's been such a busy month, but things should calm down at work, which means fewer late nights so home should become easier and I should have more time for baking. Which is good since it's time for holiday baking!

Had a few bread disasters lately. The first--I mixed up a batch of dough the night before leaving for a conference so that I could make fresh bread as soon as I got back. I set it in a different place--on one of Nutmeg's chairs next to the heater since it's the warmest spot in the house. After tucking Nutmeg in bed, I came downstairs to find Jedi (our dog) throwing up. It looked very weird, especially since he'd just eaten dinner and it didn't look like kibble. It looked like foam. And then I went to pick it up. It was bread dough! He'd eaten the bread dough!

Besides losing 7 cups of flour and any chance of baking bread on Saturday, the more immediate concern was that dogs shouldn't eat bread dough. I had no way of knowing how much he'd eaten compared to what came out. So Eric had to get him to throw up. Luckily, dogs will throw up with hydrogen peroxide. Took two tries, but it worked. (Thank goodness for a yard, too!) In case you wonder why they shouldn't eat dough, just think about the two things dough needs to rise: heat and moisture. Dogs have died from eating dough.

So I made dough when I got back from the conference and all was well. Except that, despite it being near the wood stove, it didn't rise! I've never had this happen. I can only imagine that my water was too hot and killed the yeast.

But this time, I had a solution: I had always meant to try making pita bread. Flat breads--pizza, foccocia, pita, naan--are perfect uses for dough that doesn't rise. I had imagined pita bread took a special bread dough, but I checked at Artisan Bread in 5, and indeed I could use any basic dough to make pita. It took a long time to bake it; I only realized a couple days later that instead of baking them one by one on the pizza stone, I could have used cookie sheets and gotten at least 3 in at a time, maybe more if I didn't make them too big. They were really super simple to make: Take a piece of bread dough about the size a plum to a peach. Roll to about 1/8" think--any thicker and it won't puff, any thinner and it will only puff in places and be more cracker-like). Use lots of flour; if you have one, use a rolling pin cover. A nearly 6-year old can roll these out--that's right, Nutmeg made most of them! Takes about 8-10 minutes for one in the oven at 425-450, depending on the size.

Later, I called it "puffy bread" but Nutmeg mis-heard me, and had been reading 101 Dalmatians recently with lots of rolly poly puppies, so we now call it "puppy bread." Her favorite way to eat it? Pieces with strawberry yogurt! Me, I like it with cheddar cheese, shredded carrots, and spinach--there were a few little leaves of spinach that grew this fall and were still green despite frosts (pictured)! Or with sundried tomato ranch chevre, shredded carrots, and sprouts. Chevre and carrots courtesy of the winter farmer's market. The sprouts I grew myself. Nutmeg doesn't like them.

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