The hot weather has eased off a bit, and I’m bringing the starter out of its long-term stint in the refrigerator. I know refrigerated starters are supposed to just quietly go dormant and sleep, and that they are more sensitive to heat than cold, but my starter actually seemed to get damaged by it. Even bringing it up to room temperature and feeding it over a day or so before using it didn’t help – I actually had to throw out the last batch of loaves. It wasn’t a real hot day (no AC here), but still the dough just sort of exploded and went sour real fast. This time around I’ve done it more gradually, and the starter seems almost back to normal now, though a bit slow.
Sourdough pita bread
I went back to commercial yeast during the hot weather and found an excellent pita recipe here. As I use unbleached white flour, not whole wheat, I cut the liquid back to 1 to 1-1/4 cups. The result wasn’t puffy like their pita pillows, but it was delicious, and it also makes the best thick pizza crust I have ever tasted, pizza parlor as well as home (yes, with the sugar in the dough, too – you can’t taste it in the finished product0).
Today I modified the recipe for my rejuvenated sourdough:
1. Set aside about 1/4 cup of starter when you feed it in the morning.
2. Add liquid to make 1 cup.
3. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the starter liquid.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together 3 cups of unbleached white flour, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 tablespoon of sugar.
5. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry, stir and add more flour if necessary to make a moderately stiff dough that you can easily knead.
6. Knead approximately 100 strokes or more, until the dough is resisting your force pretty strongly, and then pour another 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil onto the dough and knead it in.
7. Cover and let rise – today’s batch took all morning.
8. Knock down, divide into eight round balls, cover and let sit for around 15 minutes or so.
9. Pat and roll to a thickness of about 1/4 inch and then bake at 400 degrees.
The baking instructions at the above-linked recipe are good to follow. I did it in a 16-inch electric skillet on top of the stove (doesn’t heat the kitchen up). If you want to try this, oil the skillet thoroughly and then wipe excess oil off. Preheat to 400 degrees. You can cook two of the pita breads at a time. Just pat and roll them out to about 1/4-inch thickness and toss them into the skillet and cover. Bake for about 3 minutes, remove the cover, turn, and cover them up again. Bake another 3 minutes or until golden brown on both sides.
Again, the results aren’t pouffy, but they are tender, delicious and just really irresistible, even without a filling. Bet you can’t eat just one!