Wednesday, April 18, 2012
One of my favorite favorite after work snacks/pre-dinner appetizers is pita and hummus. While pita chips are great (and you can make them from this recipe), fresh, soft, lovely pita bread is really what makes me swoon. Sometimes, I'll just pack a pita and some hummus for lunch with a salad. It's perfectly light, flavorful, but still filling. So learning to make my own delicious pita bread was a definite to-do. This recipe results is a lovely base pita bread that you can season to your liking--with just a little kosher salt or a bunch of herbs and spices that really pop. And if you roll the dough just right, you'll get lovely pita pockets perfect for stuffing with all kinds of fun sandwich-y stuff.
I've made this recipe a handful of times and each time have been pleased with the results. It's pretty simple to make, and with two rises, there's a bunch of down time. I've made this both by hand and in the stand mixer and I must say I've gotten my best results by using a hybrid approach of starting in the stand mixer and then kneading by hand. Jen at Beantown Baker shared this recipe and it's perfect. Simple and delicious, you'll find yourself eating this up quickly and wanting more. I usually freeze several of the pitas so they'll last longer (microwave for about a minute and a half and you've got fresh, soft pita). I've also cut them into wedges and popped them back in the oven to make pita chips, seasoned up with lots of sea salt. No matter how you enjoy this stuff, you'll be pleased with the recipe and find yourself back in the kitchen making another batch.
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon sugar or honey
1 packet yeast or 2 teaspoons bulk yeast
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water, room temperature
2 Tablespoons olive oil (vegetable oil, butter or shortening are also fine)
If using dry active yeast, proof according to instructions.
If using bulk yeast, in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl), whisk together flour, yeast, salt and sugar or honey.
Add the olive oil and 1 1/4 cup water and stir with the dough hook of the stand mixer or a wooden spoon. Continue stirring until ingredients form a ball, adding a little more water if all of the flour does not stick to the ball.
Once the ball is formed, turn dough out onto a cutting board or clean counter and knead for 10 minutes by hand.
Once kneading is complete, place dough in a large, lightly oiled, bowl. Turn the ball to coat in oil on all sides. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or damp towel and set to rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.
When dough has doubled, punch it down to release some of the gasses and divide into 8 pieces. Shape pieces into a ball (for easy rolling) and cover with a damp kitchen towel to rest for 20 minutes.
While the dough rests, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Note: I use my baking stone to bake the pita, so I put that in during the preheat. Otherwise, just use an upside down cookie sheet in the middle rack of the oven during the preheat as well.
After 20 minutes, roll the dough on your work surface, sprinkled with a bit of flour if necessary. Stretch dough with your hands or a rolling pin and flatten to about 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. If you have trouble rolling or stretching, cover the dough with a damp towel and let it rest for another 5-10 minutes.
When all rolled out, carefully place your pita onto the stone or cookie sheet, as many as will fit (I generally get 2 or 3 at a time). Note: If you want to season your pita, this is the time--a sprinkle of salt or other seasoning or herbs and you'll be good to go.
After about 3 minutes, the pita will be puffed up and baked through. If you want a more crispy pita, bake for another 3-5 minutes. For pita chips, remove after the first bake, cut into desired sized chips, season, and bake for another 5-8 minutes to desired crispness.
Makes 8 pita breads.
The Cookie Princess
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