Saturday, January 9, 2010

Pita Bread



Homemade pita bread is sooo much better than anything you can get at the store. My friend Jill mentioned that she makes her own pita, so I thought I would as well since the stuff at our local store is almost inedible. I was surprised at how easy it is to make--it's a simple dough and a very quick baking time (though you do need to bake each pita one or two at a time). I used my little Cuisinart pizza oven and it did a fantastic job.

The recipe I used in from Flatbreads and Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. It's a lovely book with bread recipes from all over the world. I've had my copy of the book for ages, but there is now a paperback version and it's under $15 at amazon.

This recipe makes 16 pitas. We ate a few for dinner and then I stuck the rest in the freezer.


Pita

2 teaspoons of dry yeast
2 1/2 cups lukewarm water
5 to 6 cups of whole wheat flour, or a combination of 50% whole wheat and 50% white
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 3 cups flour, a cup at a time, and then stir 100 times, about 1 minute, in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest for at least 10 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.

Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Rinse out the bowl, dry, and lightly oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least doubled in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours.

Place unglazed quarry tiles, a pizza stone, or two small baking sheets, on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1-inch gap all around between the tiles or sheets and the oven walls to allow heat to circulate. Preheat the oven to 450F.

Gently punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into 8 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack.

Place 2 breads, or more if your oven is large enough, on the quarry tiles or baking sheets, and bake for 2 to 3 minutes, or until each bread has gone into a full balloon. If for some reason your bread doesn't puff up, don't worry it should still taste delicious. Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled-out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.

7 comments:

  1. This looks great! They puffed so nicely. I'm trying this recipe next time, because I've only made all-white flour pitas so far. They bake so quickly that it's not a big deal that you can only bake a couple at a time.

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  2. Thanks Jill! I was so surprised at how easy they were to make.

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  3. i love homemade pita..and i'm intrigued by your pizza oven!

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  4. Yum these look really good! I love pitas but have never made them..may have to try this recipe!

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  5. I've made pita a few times (but the last time was a disaster) - and it's really not hard at all. I think I was too rushed last time (no surprise). I love the oven you cooked them in!

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  6. I so agree...supermarket whole wheat pitas are sad. These look so great, and if they're easy, that's even better. Nicely done!

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