In this week’s Great British Bake Off, the remaining amateur bakers discovered what it’s like to bake bread without an essential ingredient: gluten. The technical recipe is always a trial, but Paul Hollywood’s gluten-free pitta breads proved an especially sticky one.
Can you do better? Below is Paul’s recipe in full. Yes, we’ve given you a helping hand – a complete set of instructions. Happy baking!
Gluten-free pitta breads
Pitta bread may have its roots in the Middle East, but it has long since been well and truly adopted in Britain. This is a tricky bread challenge: making twelve identical pitta breads using a rich gluten-free dough.
Note: Psyllium powder is very useful in gluten-free baking as it binds with liquid to mimic the structure that gluten provides, enabling breads to rise. You can buy psyllium powder in wholefood and healthfood shops.
1. Mix the psyllium powder with 300ml of the water and set aside until needed – the mixture will swell and thicken.
2. Tip the flour and nigella seeds into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other side. Break the eggs into the centre of the flour and add the vinegar, oil and thickened psyllium mixture. Combine the ingredients with your hand to make a soft dough. Very gradually work in the remaining water – this flour absorbs water in a different way to wheat flour so you may not need it all – to make a dough that’s soft and slightly sticky. If the dough is too dry it will crack when you try to shape it; if it is too wet you won’t be able to form a neat shape.
3. Turn out the dough on to a floured worktop and knead it briefly just until smooth – as there’s no gluten, the dough won’t be stretchy and elastic. Return the dough to the bowl, cover tightly with clingfilm and leave to rest for 1½ hours until doubled in size.
4. Towards the end of the rising time, heat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7 and put the 3 baking sheets in the oven to heat up.
5. Turn out the dough on to the floured worktop. Divide into 12 equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Roll or press out each ball to a neat oval shape about 4mm thick.
6. Remove the hot baking sheets from the oven and dust them lightly with flour. Arrange 4 pittas on each sheet, slightly apart. Bake for 10–12 minutes until puffed up and slightly golden, with no wet-looking patches – the tricky part is making sure the insides of the pittas are cooked and not doughy or sticky. Remove from the oven and immediately wrap in a clean, dry tea towel to keep the pittas soft. Eat as soon as possible.