December 31, 2012

Homemade Pita Bread

Ever since my hubby got back from Israel, all I've heard is "you've got to make pita bread, you've got to make pita bread", and it's not that I haven't wanted to, but I wanted to read up on it a little and find a good recipe.  We both love middle eastern food and good, fresh pita bread is just unbelievable!  Recently, a good friend of ours took us to this great Chaldean market where they were making fresh, hot pita.  They were selling them as quickly as they were getting them from the oven.  Oh, they were incredible!  So, I had to smile to myself, when I told him I'd be making these, and I heard, "no, no, we'll just find a good middle eastern grocery where we can buy them-you can't make good pita at home",...........well, that basically sealed the deal!  I chose what seemed to be the simplest of recipes with the least steps involved.  Some of these pita recipes are something else-making a sponge first, rolling, spritzing, re-rolling.  That's not going to happen!  I'm so happy to say my first attempt with this first recipe turned out great!  They were so good!  They were pretty much identical to what we had at the Chaldean bakery.  I only made 8 because I really wasn't sure how they'd turn out.  Well, that was lunch today for my children and me, they loved them!  We'll definitely be making these weekly and the kids will be a big help with this!  The other thing I love about homemade pita is how easy it is to slice for sandwiches.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 packet (2-1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1-1/4 cups room temperature water
2 tablespoons olive oil

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast with the flour, salt, and sugar.  Add the olive oil and 1-1/4 cups water.  Mix well until mixture forms a ball.  If some of the flour will not stick to the ball, add a touch more water.  (I actually had to add a little more flour).  When the dough comes together into a ball, knead in the mixer on low speed for 10 minutes (or knead by hand for 10 minutes).  When finished kneading, place in a bowl that has been lightly greased with olive oil.  Turn to coat the top.  Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel.  (I then placed my bowl in the oven with the light on).  Set aside until it has doubled in size, about 90 minutes.  When doubled in size, punch down dough and divide in 8 equal portions.  Gently roll each piece into a ball and cover with damp towel; let rest for 20 minutes.  As the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  I put my baking stone in at this point to preheat as well.  If you don't have a baking stone, turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it on the middle rack of the oven.  You can bake your pitas on the cookie sheet.  After the dough has rested 20 minutes, dust a work surface with flour.  Place each dough ball on floured area and sprinkle a little flour on top of dough.  Roll or stretch each ball into a 6-inch disk that is about 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick.  If it doesn't stretch well, you can cover it with your damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.  Mine rolled out just fine the first time.  Place the disks on a lightly greased baking sheet and let rise, uncovered, until barely doubled in thickness, about 30-45 minutes.  Open oven and place as many pitas as you can on hot baking surface.  They should be puffy and baked through after 3 minutes.  Makes 8 pitas

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