When I stopped eating gluten nearly 10 years ago, one of the things I thought I’d never eat again was pita bread. Not that pita bread was a mainstay in my life, but who doesn’t love the idea of bread that works like a pocket? It’s the perfect place to tuck some hummus with crisp lettuce, egg salad and sprouts, or falafel with yogurt sauce. This week, I made an exciting discovery: Gluten free pita bread is not only possible, it’s easy! This simple recipe is cooked in a cast-iron skillet rather than in the oven, and opens up a whole new world of sandwich possibilities.
It all started when I found a recipe for soft gluten free Indian bread, or naan. I loved the idea of flat bread cooked in a skillet, so I gave it a try. I mixed the ingredients together, and let the yeast rise a bit.
Then I baked the flat disks of bread in a hot cast iron skillet.
The result was a pile of nice, soft bread ready to be buttered, smothered in curry, or wrapped around some crisp falafel (which happened to be what was for dinner).
On a hunch, I cut a piece of bread in half and then carefully opened the center with a knife. Sure enough, with a little help the naan became a nifty piece of pita bread! Soft, chewy, and and ready to stuff with your favorite sandwich filling. It may seem like a small thing, but it’s nice to have another fun food back on the table at my house. And, you can make it with whole wheat flour if you aren’t avoiding gluten. Success!
- ½ cup water, heated to 110°F
- 1 Tablespoon raw honey
- 2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
- ½ cup organic, raw buttermilk (or 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar + enough milk to make ½ cup)
- 2 cups gluten free flour mix, or 2 cups organic flour of your choice (plus ¼ cup for dusting)
- 1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon gluten free baking powder
- ¼ cup organic extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large organic, free range eggs, beaten
- In a glass measuring cup, combine the warm water, honey and yeast. Mix well, and set aside to allow yeast to proof (it will get frothy and puffy).
- If you are using raw milk and apple cider vinegar rather than buttermilk, mix the milk with the vinegar and allow to sit until the milk becomes thick and slightly curdled.
- Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl and mix together .
- Once the yeast has proofed, add the beaten eggs and oil to the yeast mixture. Beat together, and then pour over the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add the milk, and stir again. Set aside dough and allow to rise for 20 minutes.
- Sprinkle some flour onto a work surface (a cutting board will work fine). Take a small amount of dough and place it on the dusted workspace, then sprinkle a little more flour on top. Carefully roll and pat the dough into a flattened ball, then transfer to a hot skillet.
- Using a spatula, carefully flatten the bread in the skillet until it is about ⅓ inch thick. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side on medium high heat (keep checking to avoid burning).
- Serve immediately, or allow to cool and then cut it into pita bread: Cut each piece of bread in half. Very carefully, insert a knife into the center of the bread and open a pocket. This is a little tricky, but not as hard as it sounds...the bread lends itself naturally to being made into pita pockets.
- Store any unused pita bread in an airtight container in the fridge.
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Do you enjoy pita bread? If you’re gluten free, what’s one thing you’ve missed?