RecipeBeta: Dark Rye Flatbread / Pita (make this!) - Something Edible
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RecipeBeta: Dark Rye Flatbread / Pita (make this!)

RecipeBeta: Dark Rye Flatbread / Pita (make this!)

Abstract: Beta recipes are my own experiments that I've only tried once. Usually palatable, they often could be better with a little tweaking - So please do, and let me know what works!

I just turned out a slab of corned beef, but I'm craving some flatbread. To bring together what I've got and what I want, I decided to tinker with my favorite pita recipe and attempt a dark rye flatbread. Wrap a soft pillowy disc of this whole grain-studded lovely around that big pile of thinly-sliced brisket, and pass the kraut!

Purpose: This last week, I decided to finally do something with that brisket that was staring me down every time I opened the freezer, so I tried my hand at homemade corned beef. While the breast of beef brined, I started contemplating ways I'd be eating the leftovers. As I love a good sandwich, the obvious choice was a Reuben; but I'd been looking for an excuse to bake some flatbread. So really, I suppose what I was craving was akin to a Reuben-style gyro, which is totally feasible if I can produce a decent rye flatbread. The recipe and methods I use for Arabic Flatbread/Pita have been documented and tested exhaustively, so it really became a question of whether or not I could substitute enough stuff in my base recipe to get the flavors and textures of a dark rye (and perhaps play in pumpernickel territory without getting too fussy).

Recipe: Jump to the detailed recipe. (or, keep reading for the gist of it) -

  • 10 fluid oz water A cup and a half; tepid.
  • 1 Tbsp fast-acting yeast
  • 3 Tbsps molasses
  • 1/4 cup powdered milk
  • 2 tsps Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 4 oz whole-grain rye flour By weight (That's about 3/4 cup by scoop & sweep).
  • 16 oz bread flour By weight (That's about 3.5 cups by scoop & sweep) + extra for the bench.
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder

    • Place all ingredients in the order listed into the bowl of a stand mixer. Attach dough hook and set to stir. Knead 10 minutes. If dough isn't free from the bottom of the bowl (i.e. it's too wet) add bread flour as needed in the last 2-3 minutes of kneading (it won't take much more if any).
    • Cover, and let rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 2 - 3 hours.

      • For thicker, softer, pocket-less pita, preheat an oven with baking stone to 450F, allowing enough time for the oven to continue to heat 20 minutes past the preheat. Divide the dough into into 2 inch diameter balls, about 2.25 ounces by weight. Roll each dough ball into a 5 inch round using enough flour to prevent stickage, and let the dough disc rest for a couple of minutes. Before sending it off to the oven, finish by rolling out to a 7 - 8 inch round. Transfer the round to the hot stone, top side down (this dough doesn't stick much so you can probably use your mitts for this). Bake for 2 minutes, flip, and finish the second side 2 minutes more. Move to a wire rack to cool.
      • For a pita with a pocket (suitable for chip-making and stuffing), preheat an oven with baking stone to 525F, allowing enough time for the oven to continue to heat 20 minutes past the preheat. Divide the dough into into 2 inch diameter balls, about 2.25 ounces by weight. Roll each dough ball into a 5 inch round using enough flour to prevent stickage, and let the dough disc rest for a couple of minutes. Finish by rolling out to a 7 - 8 inch round; let the round rest for an additional 5 minutes (the exposed side will start to dry out). Transfer the round top side down to the hot stone. Bake for 90 seconds on each side. The bread should puff up like a balloon. Move to a wire rack to cool.

    Store in sealed zip-top bags after cooling.


    • Long story short - most all of the methods outlined in the aforementioned Arabic flatbread post are applicable. If you've never made pita before, you'll want to use that as a reference. However, this dough is easily just as forgiving. So if rye is your thing, by all means try this one first. 
    • On the topic of forgiveness, this dough doesn't stick to stuff near as bad as the original, and that's likely the rye flour holding more liquid while the lovely rustic bits of whole grain work to interrupt contact between surfaces.  Heck, I bet I only used a quarter cup of bench flour to process the whole batch. I'm sure I use four times that for the original recipe; and because I'd like to avoid pushing a vacuum, that was the original reason I started making flatbread outside on the grill.
    • You'll notice I'm using a stand mixer to bring this together; but I reckon that a dough setting on a bread machine would work just fine. I'm not trying to be an equipment snob here, I'm just trying to get out of unnecessary work, so if old-school is your thing, by all means be my guest.
    • Some folks insist on a pita with a pocket, and some prefer the puffy texture of a "Greek pita". With this recipe, you can have it both ways. I'll often start with a hotter oven and churn out a few with pockets and tweak the heat and dough rest times in the assembly line to work my way to sans-pocket. Variety!
    • So, you don't have a baking stone. Well, that's not a huge problem; you could use your cast-iron skillet inste- oh hell, who are we kidding? You don't have either do ya? You need to rectify that; and pronto.
    • After your pita cools, you'll wanna store them in a zip-top bag to keep 'em fresh.  However, should they become a little less than pliable, you can wrap 'em in  a moistened paper towel and nuke 'em for 10 to 20 seconds to get em back to rights.
    • I've provided the larger volumetric measures as a courtesy, but believe me it's much easier to just put the mixer bowl on your digital scale, and just dump and re-zero as necessary. I've said it before: if my preschooler can read and tare a scale, so can you.

    Results: Wow. This flatbread is just great. Absolutely great. If I were the "trendy baked good" type of home-based food journalist, I might even go so far as to call it "amazing" (I shouldn't even start). Originally, I wanted something closer in color to a pumpernickel, but I think the abbreviated cook times necessary for pita crushed that notion. No matter; one bite had me focused more on the flavor and less as to what category of bread it fell into.  Even the thinner layers of the pocketed variation stay soft; and there is a nutty sweetness that likely is a result of the taste synergy of the molasses and rye. I usually make pita on the grill, but the aroma this bread leaves in your kitchen is well worth all that oven opening and closing.

    So, I told you I made this for the benefit of some corned beef, and a Reuben I did have. I actually think that this particular sandwich benefits from the flatbread, as often two slices of rye aren't up to the challenge of containing what is inherently the sticky bun of deli sandwiches. After about 3 days (not that you have to wait that long), it'll be time to single-ply your pita (much easier with the pockets) and toast 'em in a 325F oven until they're crispy. If you wanna add some flavor, brush lightly with the oil of your choosing before the re-baking and salt immediately on the way out. Your hummus doesn't know what it's missing.

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