Pita? Well, why not?
April 4, 2016
I have embarked on another new adventure in breadmaking. I have made my own pita bread.
Folks, this stuff is pretty doggoned easy. And it’s pretty good. I’ve been off sandwiches of late, but it’s the time of year I like to cram lots of veggies into a sandwich, and it just works better when you’ve got a sandwich bread that’s closed along everything but the business end. Less messy, don’t’cha know. Taste remains to be discovered, as I baked them after dinner and didn’t feel like attempting a sandwich as a bedtime snack.
I don’t intend to limit my sandwiches to the Middle Eastern variety for which pitas are commonly used (though I DID put some chickpeas on to soak, just on general principles, a few minutes ago). Pitas are great when you’re assembling any sandwich in which the fillings are anything other than a cohesive solid mass, like a bologna sandwich or a grilled cheese. Think barbecue sandwiches; bahn mi sandwiches; BLTs, and so on. I mean, how many times have you had the pickles and tomato slide off your burger? And don’t get me started about trying to keep a fried egg sandwich from dripping all over whatever I’m wearing.
I bought tomatoes today. Produce stand tomatoes, shipped in from Florida; we shall see if they’re fit to eat. If they are, be assured BLTs are in my future ASAP. With avocado. Those things are so hard to keep together I generally wind up eating them with a fork. And I cannot count how many shirts I’ve messed up, generally at highly inopportune times, while eating a barbecue with slaw. So, these pitas will see plenty of use, and may for the most part replace sandwich bread.
The recipe came from a poster on the food forum I follow regularly. It’s about as easy as such things get. The dough is not unlike a pizza dough; it’s the way you handle it that makes a difference.
- 2-1/2 cups unbleached bread flour (I add 2 tablespoons if all I have is all-purpose flour)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons rapid-rise or “instant” yeast
- 2 tablespoons oil, olive or canola or grape seed.
- 1-1/4 cups water room temp.
Measure the flour (unsifted) into a large bowl.
Add the salt, yeast and oil.
Make a “well” in the center of the flour and pour in the water.
Using your hands, bring the flour into the water and continue mixing until a ball of dough is formed.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead for about 15 minutes.
(If you have a mixer that has a dough hook you can place all ingredients into the mixing bowl, blend until ingredients form a ball then continue mixing for about 10 minutes with the mixer set on lowest speed. Or you can use a food processor add all the dry ingredients, pulse briefly to mix, add the oil and pulse. Then, with the processor running, slowly add the water until the dough forms a ball, usually takes only about 20 seconds total.
The dough should feel silky and soft but not flabby, when a thumb is pressed into the dough it should fill in quickly.
Spray the inside of a large Zip-lock bag with Pam or similar oil spray.
Place the dough ball into the bag and seal.
Set aside to rise until it has doubled in size.
At normal room temp this should be about an hour to an hour and a half.
Turn the dough out onto the floured board, knead 3 or 4 times then stretch into a fat cylinder.
Cut in half, then cut the halves in half, and so on, so that you end up with 8 pieces of dough.
Roll the pieces into balls and press flat into a disk.
Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with oil, place disks on it then cover with another sheet of plastic wrap. Set aside to rest for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat oven to 475 degrees, F.
Using a rolling pin, flatten the disks on a lightly floured board and roll into about a 6-inch circle.
They should be about 1/4 inch thick or slightly less.
If you have a baking stone you can bake the pita directly on it, mist the stone with water before placing the pita on the hot stone then mist the pita.
Otherwise, place the pita on a lightly oiled baking sheet and place on center shelf in oven.
Mist the pita and close the oven door.
Watch closely. In about 3-4 minutes the pita will have blown up like a balloon and are done. They should not brown, but might show a little color around the edges.
Immediately remove them from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.
I used all white flour in mine, as I was out of whole wheat. And I used whey, left-over from making yogurt, as the liquid, as I usually do when making bread.
I didn’t get the “puffing up” described in the recipe in mine, but on reflection I think that has to do with how I misted them. I just generally sprayed water in the oven; I think I should have probably directly misted the surface of the pitas. I’ll see how these do when I cut them open, and if I don’t get a “pocket” I can stuff, I may chunk them and try one more time.
In any event, it’s worth a whirl. I’ll let you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em know the final verdict later this week.