Friday, March 2, 2012

Making Pita Bread

Every once in a while I like to branch out in my cooking and try something I've never made before.  I think of it as an experiment, not knowing what the result might be.  Are you adventurous like that?  I only do it when I have a little extra time on my hands and I am in the mood.  It's my hobby time.

Homemade Pita Bread
My most recent experiment in the kitchen was making pita bread.  Have you ever made pita bread?  I've eaten quite a lot of pita bread in my life, always thinking that pita bread was exotic and probably very hard to make.  Little did I know that pita bread is made from simple ingredients and that it is the cooking technique that makes the pocket in the bread.

Last year I attended a dinner where local celebrity chefs demonstrated recipes for each course.  In one course we were served a Greek salad in pita pockets and Chef Andrew Nathan said it was quite easy to make pita bread at home.  Well, ever since that dinner, making pita bread has been on my list of things to try.  This week was the week for my pita bread experiment.

Making pita bread is actually fun.  Parents and grandparents might find making pita bread a fun activity to try with children and grandchildren.  They can help with kneading the dough (if you make it all by hand) and the rolling of the pita rounds.  Everyone will marvel as the little breads puff in the oven.  I'll bet any sandwiches made with the pita bread will quickly be devoured.

I used a couple of kitchen tools that made my pita making experience easier.  First I made the dough completely in my bread machine, using the dough cycle.  I always use my bread machine to knead the dough.  It makes the process a no brainer. 

A Bread Machine Helps

I also used my pizza stone in the oven as the surface on which I baked the pita bread.  You can see that my pizza stone has been very well used. Traditionally, pita bread is baked in very hot brick ovens and the best way I could think to approximate that environment was by using my pizza stone. 

My Well-Used Pizza Stone

Do you need these items?  No, I don't think you do, but they worked pretty well for me.  If you don't have a pizza stone place a baking pan in the oven to heat up and put your dough directly onto the pan.

Let's give pita bread a try...
Pita Bread Ingredients
Pita Bread
Makes 8 pita breads

  • 1 cup water (110-115 degrees F)
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast

If you are using a bread machine, place the ingredients into the pan of the machine in the order listed and set the machine on the dough cycle.  If you are making your dough by hand, combine the first 4 ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add 1 cup of the flour and the yeast, stirring to mix.  Add the remaining flour and knead to make a soft dough, about 10-15 minutes.  Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl.  Cover and let rise until double, about an hour.

Place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of your oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.  Turn the dough out of your bread machine, or the bowl, onto a lightly floured surface.  Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and form each piece into a smooth ball.

Make Balls of Equal Size

Set the balls of dough aside, covered with a towel for about 10 minutes to rest.  This should make it easier for you to roll out each ball into a flat, round disk, about 6-7 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick.

Roll Flat Rounds

Set the rounds aside on a lightly floured pan or counter top, covered loosely with a towel for 10-15 minutes.  Place 2 dough rounds on the pizza stone, side-by-side. 

Place the Dough Directly onto the Stone

A quick spritz of water into the oven will create some moisture and help the texture of your pita breads.  Bake for 3 minutes and then flip the bread and bake for another 1-2 minutes.  Your breads should be lightly browned on each side.  They'll puff up like this...

The Baking Pita Breads

Remove the breads to a pan lined with a damp towel.  Cover with another damp towel and allow the breads to cool completely. 

Cool under a Damp Towel

Cut the breads in half, or split one edge and fill as desired.

The Pita Breads Cooling

Are you ready to give pita bread a try?  You can get the printable Pita Bread recipe by clicking the link.



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