Gluten-Free Pita Bread

These pita pockets can be made in about 25 minutes. They are dairy-free, egg-free, yeast-free, and gluten-free. And despite all that “free-ness” they are delicious. We enjoy them dipped in hummus, as mini pizza crusts, or as pockets to stuff with veggies for a sandwich.

I have found that these don’t create their own “pockets” very well, which just means I have to cut them open myself, not a big deal to me. I also love that these freeze well, so I often make a double batch and freeze half. I like to freeze some in pocket form and some just whole.

The original recipe calls for using just sorghum flour and sweet rice flour. I have successfully replaced up to a 1/4 cup of the sorghum flour with teff flour or brown rice flour. I also sometimes add some herbs or spices depending on what I plan to use the pitas for (ie adding Italian seasonings when I use them for pizza crusts).

Gluten-Free Pita Bread

GLUTEN-FREE PITA BREAD
(from Nourishing Meals)
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1 1/4 c. warm water
6 Tbsp ground flax seed
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 c. sorghum flour
1/2 — 3/4 c. sweet rice flour (in the mountains here I always have to add the larger amount of flour, but start with the lesser amount first)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
Herbs or spices, opt.

Preheat the oven to broil/550°F. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper. Position the oven rack in the center of the oven, not right underneath the broiler.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the warm water and ground flax seed. Let rest for about 5 minutes to thicken. Then whisk in the olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and use a fork to mix together. You should be able to form a ball of dough that is not too sticky or too dry. If the dough is sticky add in extra sweet rice flour (up to the additional 1/4 cup). If the dough is dry, add a little water.

Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces (I’ve done 6 smaller pitas or 4 larger pitas too, depending on what I’m using them for). Using wet hands, roll each piece of dough into a ball and then flatten with your hands until they are 5-6 inch circles. Place onto the parchment lined baking sheet. If you’re using a large baking sheet, you should be able to fit all the pitas on there (they don’t spread much). Otherwise use two baking sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, flipping each pita after 6 minutes. The pitas bubble slightly and get golden around the edges when done. After they are cooled, slice them in half and cut the bread to form a pocket.

If not using right away, layer these between waxed paper and store in a sealed container. Or freeze.

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Sweet Potato Biscuits

These were so quick to put together! They were very simple and went perfectly with the soup and salad I had made for dinner. They were light and fluffy and had terrific flavor.

I think these would be wonderful for Thanksgiving. You could change them up by adding maple syrup instead of sugar or by adding a little cinnamon. They bake for less than 15 minutes which makes them ideal to pop in right as people are gathering (and the oven is finally empty) and then pull them out warm as everyone is filling their plate. I served them with just butter but a maple butter or orange butter would also be good or a drizzle of honey.  

SWEET POTATO BISCUITS
(Food Network Magazine, November 2011, Paula Deen)
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3/4 c. cooked mashed sweet potato (about 1 large sweet potato)
1/3 to 1/2 c. whole milk, as needed
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 Tb. sugar (I think maple syrup would be delish – you would not need quite as much milk)
1 Tb. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
6 Tb. cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet (with butter, oil or cooking spray).

In a small bowl, whisk together the sweet potato and 1/3 cup milk. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter with your hands, a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the sweet potato mixture and fold gently to combine. Add the remaining milk a little at a time until all the flour is moistened. The amount of milk you will need will depend on the moisture of the sweet potato.

Sprinkle a small handful of flour on a work surface. Turn the dough out onto the surface and knead lightly 2 to 3 times with the palm of your hand until the mixture comes together. Pat the dough out into a 1/2-inch-thick round.

Using a biscuit cutter, cut the dough into biscuits. Gently reroll the scraps and cut out more biscuits. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet and bake until light golden brown and firm to the touch, 12 to 14 minutes. Serve these fluffy biscuits warm or at room temperature. Makes 9-12.

Weekend Fare: Quick Rolls

I simply must share how I adapted my pizza dough recipe into light and fluffy dinner rolls. We had company and I hadn’t really done a great job at planning a menu so I threw these together hoping they would work – they don’t have to rise which is why I love them the most! Anyway, it worked and we loved them.

NO RISE DINNER ROLLS
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2 Tb. yeast
2 c. warm milk or water (I used half of each)
2 Tb. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. butter, melted
5 c. flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix yeast, milk, and sugar together. Add salt, butter, and 2 c. flour. Combine and allow to sit for 2 minutes. Add remainder of flour. Knead (I allow my mixer to do this part) for 10 minutes by hand or 4-5 minutes in a mixer or until elastic. Allow dough to rest for 5 minutes. Shape into rolls. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.

Bread Basket: Irish Soda Bread

There are a few foods that jump immediately to mind when one thinks “St. Patrick’s Day.” Irish Soda Bread is one such recipe. With just four basic ingredients (five if you add currants or raisins), this bread is simple to make and really delicious to eat. The only thing to remember: soda bread goes stale and hard in a matter of hours. It’s best to enjoy this bread warm from the oven, within a few hours of baking.

IRISH SODA BREAD
(Baking with Julia)
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4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups milk mixed with 2 Tbsp. vinegar)

1 cup raisins, currants, or diced dried fruits (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease an 8-inch glass pie plate or a baking sheet.

Put the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and stir with a fork to blend. Add the buttermilk and stir vigorously until the dough comes together. Add dried fruit if using.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently for a minute. The dough will be soft and malleable, but, tantalizing as it is, it should not be overworked. Pat the dough into a disk about 6 inches across, slash an X across the top, cutting it about 1/2-inch deep, and place the dough in the greased pan or on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the slash has widened and the bread is golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, then slice or wrap in a moist towel until ready to serve. Allow the bread to cool completely before serving.

The bread can be kept for a few hours, wrapped and at room temperature, but by the end of the day, with just the wee bit of fat that’s in the buttermilk, it will turn hard as the Blarney Stone.

Makes 1 loaf.

Bread Basket: Chocolate Breads

Where chocolate is concerned, it is hard to use moderation. Thus, we have today three recipes for using chocolate in various forms of bread. It was too hard for me to narrow it down any further!

First we have chocolate muffins. I found it almost impossible to find a good chocolate muffin recipe. Oh, chocolate muffin recipes do abound, but they look and sound more like the identical twin of chocolate cupcakes, rather than the kind of muffin you might choose to enjoy for breakfast. So, I had to make my own. And they came out just how I wanted them: moist, full of chocolate flavor, and not so sweet as to negate the use of butter.

CHOCOLATE MUFFINS
(Heather)
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1 1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. cocoa
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

1 egg
3/4 c. milk to which you add 2 tsp. vinegar
1/2 c. oil

Optional — one or more of the following:
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped nuts (think hazelnuts, walnuts or pecans)
1/3 cup dried cherries or cranberries

Preheat oven to 400F. Line muffin tin with muffin papers. Sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, “soured” milk, and oil. Stir together the dry and wet ingredients and mix only until combined. Add any optional ingredients. Spoon into muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes or until done.

Makes 12.

I thought it would be good to suggest a yeast bread that goes outside the box a bit — using chocolate to add depth of flavor and color, rather than taking main stage. Russian Black Bread is a hearty, full-flavor bread that incorporates chocolate. Being made partially with rye flour, you will find this bread denser than most, and you will notice it does not rise as high as regular yeasted bread. This is normal and is connected with the fact that rye flour does not allow for the formation of much gluten, as opposed to wheat flour.

RUSSIAN BLACK BREAD
(from Cooks.com)
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1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 c. boiling water
1/4 c. vinegar
1/4 c. butter
1 1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, cut in 6 pieces
3 (1/4 oz.) pkgs. active dry yeast
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 c. warm water
3 c. medium or dark rye flour
1 c. whole bran cereal
1/2 c. wheat germ
1 Tbsp. instant coffee granules
1 Tbsp. salt
2 tsp. caraway seeds, crushed
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
1 tsp. onion powder
4 to 4 1/2 c. all purpose or bread flour
1 tsp. dark molasses blended with a pinch of salt and one tablespoon water for glaze (I just dusted the bread with flour)

In a large, heavy saucepan, stir granulated sugar over medium high heat until melted. Continue to stir until sugar smokes and is almost black. Slowly and carefully stir in 2 cups boiling water. This will cause mixture to smoke and sugar to lump and harden. Continue cooking and stirring until sugar is completely dissolved.

Stir in vinegar, butter and chocolate. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally to dissolve chocolate.

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and brown sugar  in 1/2 cup water. Let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the cooled sugar mixture, 1 cup rye flour, bran cereal, wheat germ, coffee granules, salt, caraway seeds, fennel seeds, onion powder and 2 to 2 1/2 cups all purpose or bread flour. Beat with electric mixture for 2 minutes or by hand for 200 vigorous strokes. Stir in remaining rye flour and enough remaining all purpose or bread flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Clean and grease bowl; set aside.

Knead dough 10-12 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover with a slightly damp towel. Let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Grease 2 medium baking sheets or 2 round cake pans; set aside.

Punch down risen dough; knead 2 minutes. Divide dough in half; cover and let rest 10 minutes. Shape into 2 round loaves. Place on prepared baking sheets. Cover with a dry towel. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375F. Slash tops of loaves as desired; brush with molasses glaze or flour. Bake 30-35 minutes, brush again with glaze if using. Bake 10 minutes longer or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on bottom. Remove from pans and cool on rack.

Makes 2 loaves.

I couldn’t help but think of those who cannot eat chocolate — either by choice or by dictate of dietary restrictions. So, I decided to include a Carob Date Loaf which is a lovely way to have something that hints of chocolate, while still remaining health-conscious.

CAROB DATE LOAF
(adapted from Natural Lifestyle Magazine, Jan. 2004)
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1 cup pitted dates, cut up
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. carob powder
6 Tbsp. butter
3/4 c. boiling water
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3/4 c. honey (I used 1/2 c. agave nectar)
1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 eggs

Place the dates, baking soda, salt, and carob powder in a mixing bowl. Toss lightly with a fork. Add the butter and boiling water, but do not stir. Let stand 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Combine the eggs and vanilla. Add the honey and flour, stirring until well blended. Add the date mixture, stirring just to blend. Pour into a well-greased 9×5-inch loaf pan. Bake 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool before removing from pan.

Makes 1 loaf.

Tea Time: Orange Whole-Wheat Scones

This time of year is when we want something warm and comforting, but also healthy, having just come out of the abundance of the holiday season. Orange Whole-Wheat Scones fit the bill, providing the comfort of a warm scone with the assurance that the whole-wheat and honey are doing your body good, not evil. To make your tea-time even healthier, consider drinking an herbal tea such as Orange Spice, or perhaps some decaf Constant Comment.

ORANGE WHOLE-WHEAT SCONES
(originally from The Kitchen of Two Sisters)

2 ½ c. whole wheat pastry flour (preferrably ground fresh, but store-bought whole-wheat flour will do)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ c. butter
2 Tbsp. honey (or try agave nectar)
¼ c. orange juice
2 tsp. grated orange rind
¼ c. milk

Preheat oven to 400F. Sift together dry ingredients. Cut in butter and rub in with fingers until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Combine wet ingredients and add to flour mixture, mixing lightly to combine. If dough feels too wet, add just a bit more flour. Knead dough lightly and pat out on a flat surface. Cut rounds or triangles.

Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes.

Makes 12.

Bread Basket: Bagels & Giveaway!

*This Giveaway is Now Closed – Comment #19 was the final entry!*

I’ve been wanting to make bagels for quite some time but the task seemed a bit daunting and the unknown too challenging. But I finally mustered up the courage and dove right in and I wish I had done it sooner! It was so much fun and they turned out great!

I made a basic dough and then divided it into four piles so I could make different kinds of bagels. The recipe said it made 12 however, I made it into 16 bagels and while they weren’t huge, they were the perfect size for us.

BAGELS
(Base recipe adapted from allrecipes.com)

3 1/2 – 4 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 Tb. yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water (about 110 degrees F)
3 Tb. white sugar
1 Tb. salt
1 Tb. white sugar

Egg Wash (for after boiling)
1 egg, beaten
1 Tb. water

In large bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups flour and yeast. Mix water, 3 tablespoons sugar and salt together, and add to the dry ingredients. Beat with a mixer for half a minute at a low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl clean. Beat at a higher speed for 3 minutes. Then slowly add in enough flour to make a moderately stiff dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes). (I let my mixer do this part.)

Divide dough into desired number of flavors. Knead in any additional flavors to the dough (ideas will follow).

Cover, let rest for 15 minutes.

Divide into 16 portions (I made 4 bagels of each flavor), shape into smooth balls. Poke a hole in the center with your finger, and gently enlarge the hole while working the bagel into a uniform shape. Cover, let rise 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, start a gallon of water boiling. Put 1 tablespoon of sugar in it, mix it around a bit. Reduce to simmering.

When the bagels are ready, put 4 or 5 bagels into the water, and cook 7 minutes, turning once.

Drain them. Place on a greased baking sheet, brush with egg wash, and top with desired toppings.

Bake at 375 degrees F  for 30 to 35 minutes (if using both oven racks, rotate once). Remove from oven, eat hot or cold.

These were absolutely delicious toasted with some butter or cream cheese!

I made Cranberry-Cinnamon, Everything, Parmesan-Italian, and Chocolate Chip.

Cranberry-Cinnamon
3 Tb. dried cranberries
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. orange zest (opt.)

Knead into the dough.

After boiling, combine 1 Tb. sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon and sprinkle on top of bagels after the egg wash.

Everything
1 Tb. poppy seeds
1 Tb. dried minced onion
1 Tb. sesame seeds
1/2 tsp. coarse salt

Combine. After boiling, apply egg wash and dip bagel into the seed mix.

Parmesan-Italian
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
5 Tb. Parmesan cheese, divided

Knead Italian seasoning and 3 Tb. Parmesan into the dough. After boiling, apply egg wash and bake for 15 minutes. Remove and egg wash again and top with remaining Parmesan cheese.

Chocolate Chip
3 – 4 Tb. mini chocolate chips

Knead chips into the dough. After boiling, egg wash and bake.

There so much fun to make and the sky is the limit on flavor combinations so be creative!

And now for a GIVEAWAY! In honor of the new year, we are giving away a 2010 Lang American Kitchen Calendar. It includes recipes and beautiful illustrations created from hand painted original artwork to inspire your creativity in the kitchen!

To Enter:
– Leave one comment telling us one culinary goal or wish for your kitchen this year.
– One entry per person.
– Make sure we have a way to contact you.
– This giveaway will stay open through Thursday, January 7.