Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pita Bread

Haifa's dad makes the best pita. We left Thanksgiving vowing never to buy them again (except from Pita Inn). This recipe is adapted from thefreshloaf.com.

Ingredients (makes 8 pita)
3 cups white flour
0.5 cup wheat flour
1.5 - 2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 packet active dry yeast (or, if from bulk, 2 teaspoons yeast)
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water, about 115 degrees fahrenheit
2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix the water, sugar and dry yeast. Stir and let sit for about 10 minutes, until it starts to foam a bubble. Mix the yeast mixture with the flour, salt, and olive oil. Work the dough for about 10 minutes in a mixer or with your hands. Lightly coat a bowl with olive oil, place the dough ball inside coating it with some oil, and cover with a damp cloth. Let it rise until doubled in size, roughly 90-120 minutes.

Near the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 500 degrees fahrenheit. This recipe works best with a baking stone. You could also use an inverted cookie sheet. Either way, make sure your baking surface preheats with the oven.

When the dough 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 about 30-60 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so that it'll be easier to shape.

After the dough has relaxed, 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. Repeat with the other pieces and let rest for another 30 minutes.

Place a few pita on the stone and bake. They should puff up in a couple of minutes. Let them bake 30 - 60 seconds after they have puffed. The steam inside will continue to cook them after you take them out.

Pita can be stored wrapped in a towel inside a plastic bag for several days.

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