Saturday, October 27, 2012

Baking is hard when you're broke.

Fact of the day: life is expensive. If you haven't figured this out by now, you're either a very lucky person who gets all the jobs they can handle or you have rich parents. I have moderately well-off parents, but I'm kind of over asking for money, especially after I drained their funds when I went to England.
So, my grocery budget is shot for a while because I'm trying to pay rent and bills, and I owe my parents about that same amount for my computer. Bundled in with this is me not wanting to turn up the heat in the house because I am paying for 1/6 of it.
I'm baking more than usual because I can't really afford to buy new food. Unfortunately, the heat being on low means that yeast dough isn't really down with rising as fast as one might like.
My pita bread was supposed to double in about an hour, but an hour and a half later, it's still just a mostly cold lump of dough instead of a big puff of warm dough. It's even sitting on the stove.
However, I figured out the problem. I'd wrapped the bowl in a damp towel (instead of my usual dry towel plus plastic wrap because the instructions called for it; that's the last time I try to follow instructions like that) and tucked the ends under to keep in the moisture, then set it on the stove (warm because the oven is on with my housemate's strange experiment). The warm damp towel in the cold room had cooled almost instantly, and the ends of the towel under the bowl had insulated the dough from the warmth of the oven with incredible efficiency.
Next time I try to follow weird instructions about how to rise dough, remind me that saran wrap plus a dry towel works wonders and that other methods are probably less useful, especially given my propensity for screwing things up in little ways.
Update on the dough: it's doing great now that the damp towel is firmly pressed around the bottom of the bowl and keeping the oven heat focused into the bowl. My dough is all big and puffy.
You may be asking yourself, why is she making pita bread if she seems to think that she can't afford heat? That seems kind of fancy for someone who, by her own account, is about to become a vagrant who doesn't even own her computer.
Well, I don't quite have enough flour for regular bread for longer than one week and I'm unwilling to pull too much money from my savings account (really sick of debt), and I do have falafel mix and beans and all manner of pasta and plenty of sauce and some peanut butter and potatoes, so a small, easy-to-store bread as a vehicle for falafel and possibly bean soups is just what I want.
And I've been kind of taken with the idea of pita bread for a long time (it was the first thing I pinned on pintrest when I set up my account this summer) and happen to have all the ingredients AND something to put in it.
I used a recipe from a cookbook, but this is the one that I pinned: DIY pita bread. My recipe required more rising steps (the whole blob of dough rises until doubled, then you split it up, then you let the balls rest, then you roll them out, then you let them rise for 30-40 min), but I feel like this is an equally valid recipe. My recipe also doesn't call for a stand mixer, which I don't have anyway. It works okay, although they're a bit crunchy. Still delicious, though.

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