Sunday, July 31, 2011

Homemade Pita Bread

Making bread is so satisfying and making homemade pita bread was just plain fun.  Simple as can be with just a few ingredients and the most basic of bread making techniques, and the end results are magic pockets of bready goodness!!

Serve these pitas cut in wedges with refreshing cucumber tzatziki or hummus as dips or stuff with falafal or grilled steak or lamb and some fresh tomatoes and lettuce for a satisfying dinner. I know I'll be making my own pita bread from now on when I'm inspired to cook Mediterranean.

PITA BREAD (Arabic Pocket Bread)

Prep. time: about 2 hours (most of which is raising time)
Yield: 6 larger (or 12 smaller) pocket breads

1 cup wrist-temp. water
1 1/2 teaspoons (half of a 1/4-oz. packet) active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar or honey
1 teaspoon salt
about 3 1/2 cups of flour (I substituted 1 cup of whole wheat flour)
a little oil for the dough
extra flour for rolling out

1) Place the water in a medium-sized bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes-it will become foamy.

2) Add sugar or honey and salt. Stir until everything dissolves.

3) Add three cups of flour, one cup at a time, mixing enthusiastically with a whisk. As the dough thickens, switch to a wooden spoon and, eventually, your hand. Knead the dough in the bowl for a few minutes, adding up to 1/2 cup more flour, as needed, to combat stickiness. When the dough is smooth, oil both the bowl and the top surface of the dough. Cover with a clean tea towel, and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in bulk.
4) Punch down the dough and transfer it to a clean, floured surface. Knead it for about five minutes, then divide it into 6 equal pieces  Knead each little unit for a few minutes, then use a rolling pin to flatten it into a very thin circle. (Make sure there is plenty of flour underneath!) The diameter of each circle is unimportant, as long as it is no thicker than 1/8 inch. Let the circles rest for 30 minutes.
5) Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Place a baking tray in the oven for a minute or two, to heat it. Then brush it with oil - or dust it with corn meal. Place as many circles on the tray as will fit without touching, and bake for just 6-8 minutes, or until puffed up and very lightly browned.
6) Remove from the oven, and wrap the breads in a clean, slightly damp tea rowel, then place in a brown paper bag, close up, for 15 minutes. This will keep the breads supple. (if you'd prefer the pita bread crisp and cracker like, bake 10-12 minutes and simply cool on a rack.)


KandN said...

Mmm! I love pita bread!
And now . . . just out of curiosity, what are your favorite ways to prepare lamb?

~~louise~~ said...

I've always wanted to try my hand at Pita bread. I'm saving this recipe for when I'm feeling really adventurous:)

Thanks for sharing...