Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pita bread

One of the things the Witch love about making bread is how versatile it is. For the most part, bread recipes tend to be the same: flour, yeast, salt, water. Its in the skilled hands of the cook that these humble ingredients change from flour and yeast into bread; chewy, crunchy delicious bread. And many varieties of bread, too. The same basic recipe can make white bread, french bread or pita bread, same basic ingredients, its in how you handle them that it morphs.

Let's take pita bread for example. It should be soft, puffy, chewy and hollow inside. It is very similar to a flat bread, but to be considered a real pita it needs that puffy hollow inside. How in the world do you get it to puff, when the ingredients are pretty much the same as pizza dough or flat bread dough??

Simple. The answer is moisture. Keeping the dough nice & moist is key to the puff. As the bread cooks, the water evaporates and causes steam, which puffs the bread. Getting your dough damp enough to puff, yet not so wet that its gluey is the key. I learned a tip from Deb from the Smitten Kitchen, she spritzed her pita rounds with water & let them rest for 10 minutes. This additional moisture was just enough to really get a good puff and yielded perfect pitas.

The pitas bake in a very hot oven and take only 3 minutes each. I'm so glad I decided to try my own pitas, the ones from the store are usually stale, filled with unpronounceable ingredients and cost more than I'm willing to spend on stale bread. Homemade pita is perfect for beginning bread makers, too; the dough is made in a stand mixer, no need to kneed and it rises in the fridge overnight, allowing the flavors to develop slowly giving a depth of flavor usually found in artisan breads. Even if you're new to bread making please give these a try. You'll be happy you did!

Pita Bread
source: Smitten Kitchen
makes 12-16 pita breads
3 1/4 c AP flour
2 t instant yeast
2 t kosher salt
2 T olive oil
1 1/4 c water

Mix all the ingredients in the work bowl of a stand mixer. Attach the dough hook and kneed for 10 minutes on medium speed. Dough will be soft, slightly sticky and not sticking to the bottom of the bowl. Add a touch more flour if too wet or water if too dry.

Put kneaded dough ball into a lightly oiled large bowl and cover with plastic wrap that's been sprayed with nonstick spray. Put covered bowl in the fridge and allow to rise slowly overnight (or up to 3 days). If dough rises too rapidly punch it back down & recover. The long slow rise develops the flavor of the dough and the cold of the fridge slows down the yeast production giving you a nice artisan flavor and excellent crumb texture.

When ready to bake pitas place a pizza stone in the lowest rack of your oven (If you don't have a pizza stone a cast iron pan will work too) and preheat oven to 475F. Allow oven to heat for 1 hour.

While oven is heating remove the dough from the fridge. Divide dough into 12-16 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball then lightly press it out to a thickish disk, about 4-5 inches diameter. Place discs on a lightly oiled sheet pan, cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and rest for 20 minutes.



Once discs have rested lightly flour counter tops and a rolling pin. Roll each disc into a thin flat, about 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Spritz each round with water and allow to rest for another 10-15 minutes, covered with plastic or a damp towel.



Now its time to cook the pitas. Place 3 rounds on the hot pizza stone and bake for 3 minutes. The pitas will puff as they cook. There is no need to flip these breads. The tops will not have any browning, this is ok. The bottoms will be slightly browned and crispy.



Allow the oven to recover temperature for 5 minutes between batches of pitas.


~*~Kitchen Witch Tip: If the pitas don't puff spritz the rounds with water and allow to rest again. The water is the key to the puff, you need the dough adequately hydrated to produce the pitas signature puff pocket. If they don't puff, don't dispare, they're still delicious and are perfect for dipping in hummus or any dip of your choosing.~*~



Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Amount Per Serving
Calories 107.4
Total Fat 2.0 g
Saturated Fat 0.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.3 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 120.5 mg
Potassium 27.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 19.4 g
Dietary Fiber 0.7 g
Sugars 0.1 g
Protein 2.6 g

9 comments:

Jenn said...

Andrea, those looks fantastic! Just like ones I've gotten from restaurants where they make them fresh! I bet they are so good warm, right out of the oven!!

Yenta Mary said...

I haven't made pita bread for probably 15 years ... this makes me want to do it again. There is little in life as fabulous as watching your own homemade breads puff up, and to tear into them still hot before they flatten ... sigh ... :)

Karen Harris said...

I'm with Mary, I love it when my homemade bread comes out successfully. There's no feeling like it. So glad I somehow came across your blog. Very nice. I'm a CO blogger too, just up the road in Castle Rock.

Teauna said...

My daughter and I LOVE pita bread! That's her favorite choice for lunch when she takes one from home... So, I think I realllllly need to try this recipe! Thanks a bunch!
Oh... & p.s..... regarding your comment on my blog-- anything is possible ;)

Happy Cooking
Teauna

Shannon said...

These look soooo good! I'm going to have to try them myself soon, especially since I just inherited my grandma's pizza stone! Perfect excuse to use it.:)

Kim @ Incandescent Blue Flame said...

Hello!
I came across your site from Lose The Boredom; we both commented on the same post.

Thank you for posting this! I too don't like to pay store prices for pita bread...they quality isn't that great and they're expensive! And I have a new-to-me Kitchenaid standmixer that needs to be used!

Thank you for including complete nutrition info for your recipes; it makes planning a healthy menu so much easier!

Cheers,
Kim

Ellie said...

Andrea, Your pita bread looks fantastic!...Loved how you paired it with teh chicken thighs and feta cheese,...
I love homemade pita bread...and you did an amazing job with them:)
~Ellie

anthony stemke said...

Lovely essay on pita bread.
Thank You.

Farmer Jo said...

I just tried to make these last night and it was a disaster! I am going to try them again with your recipe... maybe I didn't let the oven heat up enough?

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