Monday, January 7, 2013

Pita Bread

This year I plan on trying to become a better bread baker. I'm not much for making New Years resolutions, if you do that's great, but I never found that they are a real force for true change in my life. Goals, yes we all need them but deciding on January 1st to revamp everything is not realistic for me. Plus who needs the added guilt of not living up to something that sounded great on January 1st. Usually by February 1st I realize that I've already failed at 90% of what I'd resolved to do...blah... Anyway if you do make New Years resolutions, then more power to you. I plan on making a lot more bread this year and sharing it here...we'll see how that goes!

If you've every bought pita bread at the grocery store, then you know that it's hit or miss. It can fall anywhere between soft and light to tough and dry. More often than not I found it to be dried out and not very tasty. Pita is a simple bread to make. It's very similar to making pizza dough and just like homemade pizza dough, it tastes fantastic. A couple of months ago my sister convinced me to give making pitas a try. After eating some of her homemade pita, I knew there was no going back to that usually dried out store bought version. These are pillow-y soft and  oh so tasty. They are great for sandwiches, but I really like them cut into triangles served with hummus or bean dip.

Pita Bread
source:The 75th Anniversary Edition of The Joy of Cooking Cookbook 

3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 packages (1 1/2 tbsp) active dry yeast
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 1/4 cup water, room temp.

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the butter and water. Mix together, about one minute. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or with the dough hook on low to medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft, and elastic. Add flour or water as needed; the dough should be slightly tacky but not sticky. Don't add too much flour or the pitas will not puff well. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it once to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temp until doubled in volume, 1 – 1 1/2 hours.

Set a rack in the lower level of the oven and place a pizza or baking stone on the rack. Preheat the oven to 450°F for 45 minutes. (If you do not have a pizza or baking stone, preheat the oven, place an inverted baking sheet on the rack, and heat the baking sheet for 5 minutes.)

Meanwhile, punch down the dough. Divide equally into 8 pieces, and roll the pieces into balls. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

On a very lightly floured surface, roll out each ball of dough into a thin round, about 6-8 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch think. Place as many dough rounds as will fit without touching each other directly on the hot surface.

 I can only do one at a time on my stone, but they bake so quickly it's not  a problem. Using a spray bottle of water, I lightly spritz the top of the dough rounds. You don't have to do this but I think it helps make the dough puff a little better.  Bake until the dough rounds puff into balloons, about 3 minutes then bake 30 seconds to 1 minute longer. Immediately remove the breads to a rack to cool. If you leave the pitas in the oven too long, they will become dry and will not deflate to flat disks. Repeat with the remaining rounds.

Roll the pitas out thin but not so thin that they tear or they won't puff well. I found that if I rolled mine about 6 inches in diameter they puffed better than the larger rounds. There's a little bit of a learning curve on rolling and getting them into the oven. My first one stuck to the pizza peel and came out wonky. By the third one I had it down. I spritzed the pitas with a little water after I put them in the oven. The ones I spritz seemed to puff a little better than the first 2 that I didn't sprtiz. They cook really fast so keep an eye on them.
My first one had a few issues!

Ahhh pita perfection!


Anonymous said...

I like your resolution. I need to try my hand T making this pita bread.

grace said...

nice job! the magic of pita bread is something i'll always appreciate. :)

Simona Rosano said...

This is actually something I would like to try! I just started baking my bread for the first time last week and felt so good after the first attempt! I am surely going to try this, THANKS :)

Honeys gramma said...

Great pita bread, anxiously waiting for your favorite multi-grain bread recipe