Pitta rising

One of the main delights of reading a cook book is in how it demystifies cooking. Those dishes that seem so intimidating are made approachable with a recipe's few easy steps; just follow the instructions.

This works for the everyday items, too. Pitta bread, for instance; bought with a punnet of hummus, consumed with some haloumi cheese, available in food outlets high and low, so commonplace that one needn't try to make it oneself. Where would one start? Why would one bother?

First answer: looking in the Fabulous Baker Brothers book (again). Second answer: it's fun, quick and in my view the results are tastier than what's available in most stores.

Quick? Oh yes, surprisingly so. But first, the ingredients: mix a sachet of dried yeast in a jug with 20 millilitres of rapeseed oil and 300 millilitres of tepid water; add this combined liquid to 560 grams of strong white flour with 10 grams of sea salt in a large bowl. 

Mix and knead for 15 minutes by hand or for ten minutes by machine with a dough hook: any excess wetness from the liquid will soon disappear as you create a pliable bread dough. Cover with a tea towel and leave for an hour.

Pulling off the tea towel, the dough should have expanded up to twice its size. Now comes the cooking, so heat up your oven to 230º Celsius, or whatever your oven's maximum is (ours is a lowly 200ºC, but we love it so). Put a baking tray inside to heat up with the oven.

While the oven's warming up, pull off pieces of the dough of around 100 grams each. Shape each one into a ball and, on a well-floured work surface, roll the dough out into pittas, keeping both sides well-floured so they don't stick. Keep rolling until the pitta is as long as your arm, from knuckle to elbow.

Once ready, pull out the baking tray with oven gloves or the like and place the pitta onto it carefully. Now, place this in the oven. Within 30 seconds, the pitta bread will start rising... and in well under five minutes, the pitta bread will have not have just risen but ballooned, browned and baked.

Take this out and let dry on a rack; continue with the next ball of dough and then next and the next, until you've got a pile of warm pittas ready for eating or storing. Next? Buy some hummus or haloumi cheese or... actually, why not make some?


Inception Cookies

Today was definitely a comfort food kind of day. In this weather - or at least, the weather we'd been having until yesterday, which I didn't realise had changed until I eventually ventured outside wholly underdressed for the lovely cool breezy evening - I'd usually turn to ice cream, but there's this crazy, over-the-top baking indulgence that's been doing the rounds of various culinary blogs - in fact, basically the Internet at large - recently, and I wanted to give it a try: Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies.

Now pretty much the first thing you'd think is that it'd be too sweet. The blog I looked at - BeckyBakes - says that's not a problem, but in an effort to mitigate that ever so slightly, and also put my own personal twist on it, I added a smear of peanut butter (I'm a big fan of the Oreo/peanut butter combo, as explored in a different incarnation here).

And that's pretty much it. For my first attempt I focused on (and struggled with) construction, so I used pre-mixed cookie dough. I love the Betty Crocker just-add-water powder mix, but I found it a little bit sticky for my purposes, so consider going a little drier than usual with whatever your go-to cookie recipe is.

It's quite straightforward - dollop of dough, Oreo, peanut butter on top if you wish, and another dollop of dough.

Then I think the technical term is "smooshing".

Bake according to your usual cookie recipe (in this case, 10 minutes at 170 in a fan-assisted oven), and, if you can stand to, leave to cool.

Milk makes the perfect companion to this - as expected - very sweet but delightfully indulgent treat.

Enjoy! Oh, and if the name (Inception Cookies), means nothing to you, read this