Monday, 5 January 2015

Back to work recipe: wholemeal pitta breads for your sandwiches (plus red pepper hummus and candied walnuts)

I have a big drawer where I keep flour and sugar. As an ingredients 'collector', I possess virtually every type of sugar: from cubes through to granulated, caster and powdered, from Demerara, soft brown, golden, to pure white or novelty colours, from cane or beet to palm. Sugar keeps forever as long as it is kept dry.
I also have every type of flour; coconut, buckwheat, rye, spelt, waterchestnut, potato, tapioca, lotus root, corn, maize, wheat in all its forms: brown, self-raising, strong, cake flour, plain, 00 Italian for pasta. Flour should be used within date ideally; in the past one had to look out for weevils but that is no longer a problem, perhaps the atmosphere of my flat is drier.
I like to keep a tidy and thrifty pantry, so over the holiday period, I decided to use up the odds and sods, ends of bags. I'd run out of white flour and was left with mostly wholewheat, buckwheat, spelt and self-raising white.
Buckwheat flour can be used to make Breton style pancakes or galettes, or blinis (I have a good recipe in my book Supper Club). I used the spelt to make a 3 minute loaf, replacing the sesame seeds with pumpkin seeds. This recipe turned out 'ok' but not great; a usable but not terribly tasty loaf. The self-raising flour went into a chocolate Victoria Sponge (add 35g of cocoa powder to this recipe) which had the benefit of using up the rest of the buche de noel buttercream icing.
Wholewheat though...I'm not really a fan. I'm just not that much of a hippy. But then I remembered that there is one food that I actually prefer as a wholewheat version: pitta breads. So I made these. I stuffed them with a red pepper hummus, candied walnuts, fresh coriander and avocado slices. Just one made a substantial lunch. Make a double batch of these pittas, use some for lunch and store the rest in the freezer. It is quick to reheat them until puffy and warm.

Wholemeal pitta bread recipe

Makes 10 pittas

14g fast action yeast
1tsp of honey
400ml warm water
450g wholemeal flour
2tbsp olive oil
1tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 250ºC.
In a jug mix the yeast, honey and water (lukewarm only otherwise it will kill the yeast). Leave for five minutes until it froths up.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, pour the flour, olive oil and salt. Then, either stirring or with a dough hook, mix in the yeast mixture until fully incorporated into a bread dough. If doing by hand, knead for ten minutes, or leave for 5 to 10 minutes in the stand mixer on a low speed. Then cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rise for an hour.
Put a flat baking tray into the oven to heat up.
You will find that wholewheat is easier to work with the white flour. Divide the dough into 10 balls and with a rolling pin, roll them out into flat thin ovals, about 1/4 inch/1 cm thick. I didn't even need flour to roll them out.
Then place two or three oval pittas (or as many as you can comfortably fit in without them touching each other) onto the hot baking tray. Bake for around four minutes until the pitta bread has puffed up.
Do this in batches until they are all cooked.
Slit those you want to use straight away along one side. Wait for the others to cool then put them in a plastic bag and place in the freezer for later use.

Red pepper hummus recipe

Makes a bowl

It is easiest if you have a food processor or Vitamix for this recipe.

2 red peppers
400g can of chickpeas, drained
50ml olive oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1tsp of ground cumin
1/2tsp of ground coriander
1/2tsp of sweet smoked paprika
1tbsp of good sea salt
Juice of half a lemon
A handful of fresh coriander

Preheat the oven to 200ºC and once up to temperature, place the red peppers whole on a baking tray in the oven on the top shelf. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until the skin is slightly blackened. Then remove from the oven and cover with a bowl or place in a plastic bag. Leave to cool enough so that they can be handled, then strip off the shiny skin, remove the seeds and stem. Place the peppers in the food processor.
Place the chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika and salt in the food processor and process until smooth. Add the lemon juice and process. Taste for salt levels. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Transfer to a bowl to use as a dip or, if using for sandwiches, put it in an air-tight container, it will last three or four days at least in the fridge.

Candied walnuts recipe

Makes a handful

You will need a silpat, or sheet of parchment paper to make this recipe.

50g sugar
1tbsp of coconut oil
50g walnuts
A pinch of sea salt

Prepare your Silpat/parchment paper on a flat surface. In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan on a medium heat, heat up the sugar until it starts to melt, then add the coconut oil, shaking the pan. Add the walnuts after a couple of minutes and a pinch of sea salt. Shake the pan until the walnuts are coated with the sugar.
Pour the nuts/sugar onto the Silpat/parchment sheet, separating the nuts with a silicon spatula so that they are spread out in a single layer. Allow to cool. Break them up if they have stuck together.
These can be kept in an air-tight container.

Assembly of your pitta bread sandwich

Avocado slices
Red pepper hummus
Candied walnuts
Fresh coriander
Alfalfa sprouts (optional)
A slick of vegan mayonnaise (optional)
Some chilli sauce (optional)
Slices of cherry tomato (optional)

Heat up the pitta bread again in the oven and once puffed up again (this takes a couple of minutes so don't walk away), slit open the pitta bread and spread a thick layer of red pepper hummus inside. A slick of vegan mayonnaise, some chilli sauce and sliced cherry tomatoes wouldn't go amiss. Add two or three wedges of ripe avocado, three or four candied walnuts and a few sprigs of fresh coriander.


  1. Yumo these sound great!
    Sent your latest book to my sister for Christmas in the UK (via Amazon) she loves it.

  2. Love the idea of candied walnuts in a sandwich (well pitta but you know what I mean). I think I'd much these all day

    1. I nicked this idea from a place I ate at in Portland last summer. Delicious.

  3. Hi just making it now. The dough is quite wet with that proportion of water to flour. Looking at a bread recipe on the yeast packpack its 500 g flour to 300ml water.

    1. Hi Francoise,
      It is quite wet but once risen it works out. Are you definitely using wholmeal flour? Because with white flour I use alot less water.
      I will test it again however. Thanks for letting me know.


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