Homemade Pita Bread!

The following conversation happened circa 2009:

Streusel: “Hey, I brought you some pita bread that I made this morning.”

Strudel: “WHAA?!?”

See, I didn’t know that real people that I knew made pita bread, let alone it was something they whipped up with their (then) 5 year old child first thing in the morning. I figured that if Streusel’s pre-kindergartener could make pita, then I probably could, too.  Happily, I wasn’t upstaged by the tot, and have been successful at making it myself.

I made this batch in the morning, before we went to see Garrison Keillor and a live taping of “A Prairie Home Companion” (photos on the next page, and btw, seeing Garrison live is definitely qualifies as a “apparently-I’m-an-adult” situation)

Here he is, in all his pinstriped glory! The show was a lot of fun; it was at a winery just outside of Seattle, and we had a lovely picnic that featured the pita bread.

Here’s how it’s made:

Start with the usual- mixing yeast, flour, sugar, and salt. The dough is kneaded it for 10 minutes, then set to rise for 90 minutes. Here’s what mine looked like after it’s rise:

After that, you punch the dough down and shape into balls to rest for another 20 minutes.

Once they’ve rested, roll them out, pita-sized

Toss them into the oven, and watch them puff (I apologize for the blur; it was an action shot, see. I was trying to take the photo superfast so that I didn’t have the oven door open for long)

And viola!

Pita Bread

recipe from the Fresh Loaf

retrieved from http://www.strudelandstreusel.com

printer friendly version

Makes 8 pitas

3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon sugar or honey
1 packet instant (rapid rise) yeast
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water, roughly at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil, vegetable oil, butter, or shortening

Mix the yeast in with the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the olive oil and 1 1/4 cup water and stir together with a wooden spoon. All of the ingredients should form a ball. If some of the flour will not stick to the ball, add more water. (I’ve had times were I haven’t had to add any extra, and other times where I’ve added 7 tablespoons)

Once all of the ingredients form a ball, place the ball on a work surface, such as a cutting board, and knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes. If you are using an electric mixer, mix it at low speed for 10 minutes.

When you are done kneading the dough, place it in a bowl that has been lightly coated with oil. Form a ball out of the dough and place it into the bowl, rolling the ball of dough around in the bowl so that it has a light coat of oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.

When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release some of the trapped gases and divide it into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so that it’ll be easier to shape.

While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to preheat as well. If you do not have a baking stone, turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it on the middle rack of the oven while you are preheating the oven. This will be the surface on which you bake your pitas.

After the dough has relaxed for 20 minutes, spread a light coating of flour on a work surface and place one of the balls of dough there. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough and use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch and flatten the dough. You should be able to roll it out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. If the dough does not stretch sufficiently you can cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.

Open the oven and place as many pitas as you can fit on the hot baking surface. They should be baked through and puffy after 3 minutes. If you want your pitas to be crispy and brown you can bake them for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, but it isn’t necessary (mine bake for 5-6 minutes).

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