Thursday, 19 June 2008

Gluten Free Pittas (egg free, dairy free, gluten free, vegan)


I have a mental photo album. Not one that shows me car surfing, doing a naked bungee or base jumping; no, not that kind of ‘mental!’ It’s one that exists in my head for me to delve into from time to time, so that I can mull over my past.

Of course I do have to flick quickly past lots of pictures. The one of me falling onto a table of drinks in a student nightclub, tipping it up and sending all the drinks flying onto the dance floor, doesn’t get much airtime. Nor do the images from my parent’s funerals; sometimes it’s best to just keep turning the pages.

There are some though, that I like to re-visit. Some make me smile, others make me cry. Some make me feel wistful, and with some, the image is so beautiful, I just want to sit and stare.

For 8 years now I have cherished one such mental picture. The image is of somewhere in the Peak District. One summer’s day in 2000, Sandra and I crept out of a house in Worcester and scurried to the car. It was early o’clock, we’d left my then only child with her grandparents, and we were headed north. The pale and sleepy sun rubbed its eyes, shook its shoulders, turned towards us and beamed. We drove for an hour or so until we saw him. A solitary figure waiting in a lonely car park, the Peak District providing a breathtaking backdrop. It was my friend Dave.

My friend Dave is a climber. We served our time together in China and once visited a climbing wall in Beijing. Although he now lived in the Czech Republic and I was in London, we’d managed to conspire so that we both arrived at that car park early on that summer’s day.

Sandra and I giggled like novices as we unloaded bundles of brightly coloured rope from the car. We stood like 5 year olds as Dave helped us with harnesses, tied the knots, and generally did all the technical stuff. I was rather taken by the pretty karabiners; I am so shallow. The sun was warming the rock face as we trudged up the hill towards our starting point. I had a moment of hesitation - it did look rather high - but Dave was having none of it. Before you could shout, ‘On belay!’ away he went, leading the climb.

At some point in that sunny day, as I waited for Sandra to climb up and join me, I sat down on a rock ledge. The sun was beating down and I was warm and happy. I looked out over miles and miles of English countryside swathed in hazy sunshine. There was silence save for birds and the occasional bleat of a sheep. It was a moment of pure bliss.

I’ve often wondered whether a moment like that will come again. A moment when there is genuinely no worry, fear, stress or distraction. When there is calm, peace, warmth and beauty, and I simply feel light and happy. Perhaps we only get one such moment in a lifetime?

So, bearing in mind that climbing is forever linked to this beautiful day with its magic moment, I’ve always wanted to climb again. However, 4 children, no nanny and a travelling husband are not conducive to maternal jaunts to a climbing wall. Yet somehow recently, I met another like-minded Mum, found a babysitter and arranged a date.

And so it was that a few weeks ago, Monday evening saw me standing at the foot of a climbing wall feeling like a 5 year old. An instructor taught me to tie knots and adjusted my harness for me. He then made me climb up and down the wall, clinging to brightly coloured hand holds until my forearms trembled. Eventually I got the giggles and then just let go so that I could hang in space and have a rest.

I came home full of happy endorphins, popped a beer - belched - and showed my husband my pumped biceps. He really wishes I were more like a woman.

The following morning, still mentally clambering up walls and aching in all sorts of strange places, I finally cracked my pitta recipe.
These would be perfect for a packed lunch somewhere in the Peak District on a warm and sunny day.

On Belay!
.
Climbing Pittas (Makes 4 large pittas)
Now the pictured pittas look a tad thick don't they? You're thinking, 'the base looks a bit thick and fluffy to be a pitta' aren't you? Well don't you worry, it's all to do with the heat of the grill. And when I super-heated my grill on Monday, my pittas were fine; just the right thickness.
'What do you think of the pittas?' I asked anxiously as my children shovelled down their tea. My darling, sweet and feisty number 2 girl stopped mid-chew, 'What, did you make them? I thought they were shop ones'.
I think her place in heaven - and a plentiful supply of pocket money - is assured.
100g cornflour / corn starch
50g potato flour
100g brown rice flour
1¾ tsp dried yeast
½ tsp xanthan gum
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
50g dairy free spread
180ml tepid water
  • Sift the flours into a large mixing bowl
  • Add the xanthan gum, sugar, salt and the dried yeast, mix with a mini whisk to ensure everything is evenly mixed
  • Add the dairy free spread to the bowl and using the tips of your fingers, rub it into the flour so that it resembles breadcrumbs
  • If your grill takes ages to warm up, light it now
  • Warm the water slightly then gradually add it to the bowl, mixing well with a wooden spoon. The quantity of water is a guide, you need quite a thick dough that will hold its shape. As with most gluten free dough, it will be quite sticky. The dough shouldn't fall off the spoon
  • Line a baking tray with baking parchment and have it at the ready
  • Lay another sheet of baking parchment onto your work surface and flour it with rice flour. Have more rice flour to hand
  • Dollop a quarter of the dough (less if you require mini pittas) onto the floured baking parchment. Sprinkle the surface with rice flour, and using the tips of your fingers, gently pat the the dough into a flat round shape, about ½ centimetre thick
  • Now the vaguely tricky bit. You need to transfer your pitta to the baking tray. Lift up the baking parchment with the pitta on, shake off the excess flour onto a plate, then turn the pitta onto the baking tray. If it sticks a little to the parchment, use a knife to gently scrape it off. You can then reshape the pitta if need be whilst it's on the baking tray. You could of course shape the pittas on the baking tray that will go under the grill, but I was a bit worried about an excess of flour browning or burning on the tray. Am I making any sense? Making it all too complicated? You can try both methods and let me know what you think, my friend Vicky thinks I make life too hard, perhaps she's right
  • You should definitely light your grill now
  • Once you have made your four pittas, leave them on the baking tray in a warm place for approximately ten minutes
  • Place them under your very hot grill, on the lowest shelf. Watch them like a hawk, after about 5 minutes they should start to puff up with steam. Let one side brown, remove them from under the grill, carefully turn them over (wear gloves) and then put them back under the grill until the other side is browned
  • Remove and place on a cooling rack until you need them. If you're slicing them whilst they're still hot, watch out for that steam escaping, you don't want a burn that would stop you climbing now do you?
  • Make your pitta sandwiches, pack your harness and rock boots and get thee to a rock face!
© Pig in the Kitchen
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40 comments:

Potty Mummy said...

You can MAKE pittas? AT HOME? The wonders of modern science...

Vegetation said...

These look yummy and fluffy (I mean that in a good way of course!)and yes, I too know the feeling of many kids, a travelling husband and needing that time for yourself, good on you for going on that climb!.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

PottyM, I first discovered you could make them with wheat flour a few years ago...it was a life-changing discovery. I remember saying, these are so much better than shop ones, I don't think I'll ever buy them again.

Ha! But it is fun to make them from time to time.

Vegetation, thank-you for your fluffy comment. I'm so much better at doing 'my' stuff now I have squillions of kids.
Pigx

Elsie Button said...

Oh pig, i am so upset, i should have been the first to comment on this fab post (as opposed to my usual lateness), but blogger kept being unavailable and wouldn't let me post it last night, and now i can't remember what it said... i do remember it being funny and containing intelligent observations though.

Betty loves pittas, and climbing.

that's the best comment i can offer under current home/life/work pressures...

Grit said...

bravo! i love the comment that your home made specialities equate to the shop ones. typical!!

elizabethm said...

Ah younger daughter (25, how did that happen?) has just been waxing lyrical to me about the pleasures of the climbing wall. And we make and have made all our own bread for years (smug eh?). synchronicity.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

elsieB, now calm yourself, it's ok. It was indeed inconvenient with Blogger, for 20 awful minutes my formatting was all to cock and i couldn't change it. Oh the shame.

I'm sure it contained very intelligent, erudite and impressive observations. I would expect nothing else.

It surprises me not one jot that intrepid Betty likes climbing.

Grit, oh but I took that as a compliment...shouldn't i have? should i top myself right now?

ElizM, I was moaning to my climbing partner the other day that I felt so much older than all the young lads (19 ish)in the climbng club. We compared ages. She turned out to be 3 years older than your daughter and 9 years younger than me. It was a very low moment.

Can definitely recommend the climbing wall, I have biceps of steel!!! Good for you with the bread.
Pigx

Mya said...

Very impressive,Pig. I approach anything containing yeast with great trepidation - I have bad bread making memories from school. Daughter number 2 clearly should be fast-tracked into the diplomatic service. And the Peak District? What's not to like. I personally can't visit without calling in to Bakewell...and troughing a lot of delicious tarts. And I once ate 10 mini doughnuts in Matlock. Now who's a Pig??

Ace post as usual, my deary.

Mya x

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hello Mya, yes, yeast is a bit tricky. Daughter number two is indeed fabulous, if a trifle scary at times. Bakewell Tart, oh you beauty! I'd forgotten about bakewell tart...and i'm headed back to blighty very shortly, i'll just add some of those to my 'must buy or will die' list.

only 10 mini donuts?? That's just a mouthful for a pig of my magnitude!

Thank you for lovely parting comment, so kind at this time of blog insecurity, sob.

Pigx

Milla said...

how bizarre, I have sat many a time enjoying the hour it gives me to read while my children scamper up and down up those walls and never thought of doing it myself, only a friend did offer to take me for my 40th. Then when I said yes, but made a meal of it, she divorced her husband messily, noisily, angrily instead. Attention seeking or what? And you're horribly young, you do realise that don't you?

GoneBackSouth said...

Mmm, that's wonderful. Being full of happy endorphins is so uplifting. I feel ... inspired!!!

Guineapigmum said...

Rock climbing? Tried that once or twice in my younger days. Not for me, methinks. But pittas - mmmm. I made a great lemon drizzle polenta cake the other day, by the way. Not egg free sadly, but everything else.

There's a comment for you from a visitor to my blog (choc brownies)which you probably haven't spotted.

gpm

Stay at home dad said...

You put the rest of us to shame Pig. Although I'm disappointed in the lack of naked bungee-jumping photos...

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Sahd, if you ask really nicely...

Sorina said...

Very Very visually appealing…great presentation

Anonymous said...

Hi,
your pita recipe looks very good. Congratulations.
I have a question: when you say to bake it under a grill, do you mean the grill in the electric range oven?

And do you give me permission to copy and post your recipe in our forum:
http://forums.delphiforums.com/celiac/start
with due credit naturally?

thank you very much,
Mireille

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hello Mireille, sorry for the delay in replying, and for being ambiguous. I do mean under the grill, the bit with the heat coming from above (either bars or gas)...i hope that makes sense!

I'd be happy for you to paste the recipe as long as the link to my blog is clearly mentioned, thanks very much for asking first!

Pigxb

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hello Mireille, sorry for the delay in replying, and for being ambiguous. I do mean under the grill, the bit with the heat coming from above (either bars or gas)...i hope that makes sense!

I'd be happy for you to paste the recipe as long as the link to my blog is clearly mentioned, thanks very much for asking first!

Pigx

jo said...

Hello,

Can you freeze them? If yes how long do they keep for in the freezer? I'm wanting to make batches of them and store in the freezer for my son.

jo said...

Hi again,

Do they stay soft for long? As I am wanting to make them for my sons packed lunch in the mornings, just wondering would it go hard by the time he eats it at lunch time.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hello Jo,
sorry for delay in replying...I haven't yet tried freezing them. I think if you did, you would have to toast them to rejuvenate them, so perhaps not practical for a packed lunch.

However, if you made them in the morning, put it warm inside a piece of kitchen towel, and then into a plastic bag, I think it would still be soft for lunch time...it wouldn't have to be warm, I'm sure cold it would be fine int he kitchen towel and then bag...

did that make any sense?! I've made them before at lunch, left them uncovered then had them toasted for tea, and they've been fine, so i'm sure if you cover them, they'd still be soft by lunchtime.

good luck, and thanks for stopping by!
Pigx

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Aliceone said...

Thank you again, Pig!! I've relocated to the UK and there is less than nothing for glutenp-free vegans here. My partner and I made double batches of these and ate them hot from the oven with hummous and they are FANTASTIC. Now he's dreaming of using them for pizza bases and adding herbs and all sorts of experiments. : D

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Aliceone, how lovely of you to take the time to write that comment, it has made me very happy! In fact I may put it on my bragging wall! Really pleased hubby liked them and yes I really need to sort out making pizza bases.
thanks for visiting!
Pig x

Aliceone said...

Pig! Do you have a homemade pasta recipe yet or are you working on/planning to work on one?

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Bonjour AliceOne, well funny that, I DO have a pasta recipe! I just have to try it one more time and reduce the xanthan gum factor slightly...you've just given me my next project! Will try and post it by next weekend, bear with me!
Pig x

Poppyfields said...

Ah.... GF Pita's great, pasta's a triumph, but what about GF phyllo dough (filo pastry)... I hand this challenge to you O Gifted One!
Baklava, money bags, featherlight morsels of delight, we're comin' at ya.

But seriously, I wouldn't know how to crack that one, my arms are already aching at the thought of all that rolling. Come to think of it, maybe just maybe a pasta machine might come in handy to get it really thin. But how to get it to hang together without the elastic contribution of gluten?

Ooh my head is hurting, i'll leave that conundrum to you.

Thanks for a hugely entertaining blog, lots of laughs, and an array of genius vegan recipes.

Anonymous said...

I wonder about the cornflour/ cornstarch. Which one do you use since they aren't quite the same. Or is it a 50/50 mix?

Sandy

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Alice, I HAVE had a go at home made pasta, I almost got there but it still needs more work. It defeated me at the time, but one day I'll get back to it. Nag me!

Poppyfields, argh sorry, your comment is from ages ago and it slipped through the net.

Filo pastry?? I think perhaps even I know my limits... But I've never made it (or even looked at how you would make it)so maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised?? I'm a bit scared of pastry, but you've planted a seed, so who knows? Thanks for kind comments about my blog :-)

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hi Anonymous, in the UK - as far as I'm aware - cornflour is the same as cornstarch. But to hopefully clear up any confusion: I'm talking (I think) about cornstarch, it's the stuff that goes into a thick paste when you add water and you can almost stand a spoon up in it. It has a really weird consistency, it can almost look 'dry'. Here's a link to a UK brand: http://www.ocado.com/webshop/product/Brown--Polson-Cornflour/11093011?sku=11093011&dnr=y

I hope that helps!

Pig x

Anonymous said...

Thank you, and yes, it sounds like cornstarch. I live in the USA and there is cornstarch (white color) and cornflour (yellowish color). You use the flour for cornbread and so on and I believe it's less starchy than pure corn starch.