Monday, March 10, 2008

Dark Coconut Pitta Breads (Gluten Free)



This morning I dropped Fin at school and cycled back home against a hard wind, watching cars effortlessly pass as I struggled treacle tyred, up the hill back home. At the top of the hill I saw a bank of dark cloud drifting towards town and had just locked up and set the kettle on the hob when a drench of rain poured out of the sky, hitting the kitchen window like a handful of gravel. I had no patients to see and the shopping I had intended to do, well that could just wait. This was baking weather.

I went to the freezer and got out my new baby, coconut flour. I had been planning to try a coconut pitta with some dark treacly teff and because I knew I was going to be in the house, I thought I would double rise this dough, allowing the yeast to develop a richer flavour. This seems to work best with fresh yeast - fast acting yeast tends to create too much of a fermented gassy flavour if you double rise it with banana in the mix - I guess it's the fruit sugars?

The result was delicious! Not that pretty, as the dough had a rough texture to it, but the crust was chewy and crisp around the edges and the crumb was large and moist with little flecks of coconut apparent when the pitta was split. Teff has a slightly sourdough flavour to it when you mix it with yeast and here, the pudding flavours of coconut and banana are moderated by the depth and slight sourness of teff. If you can't find teff, try amaranth flour (rajagro flour in Indian food shops) which has a similar darkness to it.

These would make a fantastic banana pocket or a PB&J treat mid afternoon or you could stuff them full of leaves and pop a couple of fresh falafels and a nice dollop of tahini sauce inside. I like mine toasted, split and spread with butter and cashew nut butter (I know both are not necessary, but they are good!). I wonder how you will enjoy yours?

Dark Coconut Pitta Breads (makes 8)




1 small ripe fairtrade banana (3oz)
8g fresh yeast
150ml warm water

4oz coconut flour
4oz dark teff flour
2oz tapioca starch or arrowroot
2oz millet flour (or brown rice flour)
50g Ground Flax Seed (Linseed)
1 tsp sea salt
1 large free range egg
50ml olive oil or melted coconut oil


Start this recipe 4 - 24 hours before you plan to make the breads. This extra time allows the anti nutrients and enzyme inhibitors naturally present in grains and nuts to be partially removed from the mixture and gives a better rise and fluffier bread! The process renders it much easier to digest and more sustaining and nutritious.

Stage 1: (4 - 24 hours before you want to bake) Put teff flour, millet flour, yeast and warm water in a large mixing bowl. Beat well, cover with a cloth and set aside for at least 4 hours or overnight. You can leave it up to 24 hours if you keep it in the fridge, or out of the fridge for a more sour tasting loaf.

Stage 2: When you are ready to bake, mash the banana and add it to the bowl with flax, coconut, tapioca, salt, egg and olive or coconut oil. Beat well and set aside for ten minutes whilst you grease some baking trays with unsalted butter or olive oil.

Stage 3: Flour your work surface well. Pinch off large egg sized lumps of dough and roll them around in the flour to coat before pressing between your palms to make an oval shape that is almost as thin as you want it to be. Make sure there is enough flour so it doesn't stick to your hands. Transfer the pitta gently to your greased tray, lay it down like a sleeping baby and press out into an oval about 6-7mm thick.

Repeat with the rest of the mixture and cover your trays lightly with a cloth or some cling film before putting them up to rise in a warm place for about an hour to an hour and a half.

Stage 4: Preheat the oven about 20 minutes before the hour is up and place a shallow ovenproof tray of water in the bottom.

When the oven is up to temperature, sprinkle the pittas with water and bake for 8-10 minutes until golden and hopefully puffed up. Don't worry if they don't puff - you will still be able to split them easily. Repeat the process with any pittas that didn't fit in the oven first time. Cool on a rack and freeze any that you don't eat that day - defrost by grilling straight from frozen.