Pita bread, like cinnamon buns and until very recently bagels, are one of those things I usually pick up at the supermarket because, you know, I’m too damned lazy they seem way too complicated to make at home.
But when my mum came back with a bag of pita bread and proceeded to polish them off within two days, I figured if anything, my mum’s love for pita bread was gonna be the reason I was gonna try my hand at making them.
So off I went, making them over a stretch of three days. They were so much fun to make! They actually puff like little balloons while baking! And the taste, oh my goodness, they couldn’t be more different from the store bought ones I’ve been eating my entire life- and I do mean different in the best possible way ever.
They were chewy, so flavourful and when fresh out of the oven, completely irresistable. I really don’t think I can ever settle for the pita bread I get at the supermarket, having now tasted what pita bread is meant to taste like.
Take my word on this- make these and you’ll never want store bought pita again. Just make them, sit back and watch them disappear.
You can come back and thank me later.
Pita Bread [taken from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Bread Bible]
3 cups plus a scant 1/4 cup unbleached plain flour
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp instant yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cup water, at room temperature
- Combine 3 cups of the plain flour, sea salt, yeast, olive oil and water in a large bowl. Stir well and knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together.
- Lightly flour the work surface with a bit of the reserved flour and scrape the dough onto it. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding as little of the reserved flour as possible. The dough will be very sticky. Cover it with an inverted bowl and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
- Knead the dough for another 5 to 10 minutes or till it’s soft, smooth and a little tacky. Add a little water if it seems too dry or flour if it’s really sticky. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight or up to 3 days, checking hourly the first 4 hours and pressing the dough down if it starts to rise.
- Preheat the oven to 220C. Place a baking tray on the lowest shelf. Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Working with one piece at a time and keeping the rest covered with a damp cloth, shape each piece of dough into a ball and flatten it into a disk. Cover the disks with the damp cloth and allow them to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.
- Roll each disk into a circle just under 1/4 inch thick and allow them to rest uncovered for 10 minutes before baking.
- To bake Place a piece of dough on the heated baking tray in the oven and bake for 3 minutes. It should be completely puffed but not beginning to brown. If it doesn’t puff well, it’s not moist enough- spray and knead the remaining pieces with water until the dough is soft and moist and allow them to rest and reroll them again. Makes 12 disks of pita bread