Pita Bread

Pitas seem like one of those hard to make breads, but they’re actually pretty simple to whip up.  The hardest part is mastering the art of “puffing.”  In order for the rolled flat bread to puff up, leaving you with that great pocket, the proper balance of warm oven, rested dough, and rolled consistency needs to be reached.  Out of the eight loaves made in my first attempt most puffed at least a little, two or three remained pretty flat, and only one properly puffed up like a balloon.

I devoured two loaves while they were still warm.  I can attest to the fact that they are still delicious if less than perfectly executed.  The improperly puffed breads end up more like Indian naan.

I worked from this recipe from The Fresh Loaf blog.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups water, roughly at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Mix the flour, salt, yeast, and sugar together in a bowl.  Add the water and oil and stir to combine into a ball of dough.  Add a little more water if the dough isn’t coming together or a little more flour if it is too sticky.
  2. Knead the dough for 10 minutes.
  3. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the surface of the dough ball in oil.  Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap.  Let it rise until doubled in bulk, approximately 90 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees as early as you can.  You want that stove nice and piping hot.  (I preheated mine for close to an hour, but my apartment was also freezing so I can’t judge if that was excessive or necessary).
  5. Punch the dough down.
  6. Place an inverted cookie sheet on the oven rack to preheat (or pizza peel or stone if you’ve got it).
  7. Divide the dough into 8 pieces.  Shape each piece into a ball and cover again with a damp towel or plastic wrap (I inverted the bowl the dough rose in over the balls).
  8. Let the 8 balls rest for 20 minutes.
  9. With a rolling pin on a lightly floured counter, roll out each dough ball to between 1/8 and 1/4 an inch think.
  10. Let the rolled dough rest for about 5 minutes before placing in the oven.  Place as many rolled pitas onto the baking pan as you can comfortably fit (I put two in the oven each go).
  11. Bake at 500 degrees. Pitas will be cooked through in 3 minutes (so set the timer and keep watch).  I cooked mine for 3.5 to 4 minutes in order for them to also be a little golden brown.
  12. While cooking loaves, roll out the next round.  After pulling out freshly baked loaves, close the oven and give it a few minutes to get back up to temperature.  You want your oven as hot as you possibly can get it to mimic the traditional brick oven cooking method.
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