The thought of making pita bread at home has always intimidated me. I’ve tried it a few times and they’ve never turned out quite right… Lately both kids have been eating a lot of hummus, and usually they are enjoying it with store bought pita bread, pita chips, or carrot sticks. So this was my inspiration for giving it another go. But, how do I get these flat round pizza-like doughs to puff up with steam, thereby creating that perfect pocket? The illusion of that perfect pita was hard to to turn to reality. That is, until today….
The ingredients in this recipe are as simple as it gets and with a bit of time, upper body strength and a brush of water, these pita’s puffed up like the perfect puri.
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cup water
Mix the dough 2 hours or for best flavor 1 to 3 days before shaping.
Knead the dough:
Mixer method: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients. With the paddle attachment, mix on low speed (#2 if using a KitchenAid) just until all the flour is moistened, about 20 seconds. Change to the dough hook, raise the speed to medium (#4 KitchenAid), and knead for 10 minutes. The dough should clean the bowl and be very soft and smooth and just a little sticky to the touch. Add a little flour or water if necessary.
Hand method: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the last 1/4 cup of the flour. With a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until all the flour is moistened. Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together. Sprinkle a little of the reserved flour onto the counter and scrape the dough onto it. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding as little of the reserved flour as possible. Use a bench scraper to scrape the dough and gather it together as you knead it. At this point it will be very sticky. Cover it with the inverted bowl and allow it to rest for 5 to 20 minutes. Finally, Knead the dough for another 5 to 10 minutes or until it is soft and smooth and just a little sticky to the touch. Add a little flour or water if necessary.
Let the dough rise: Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, scrape the dough into a 2-quart or larger dough-rising container or bowl, lightly greased with cooking spray or oil. Press the dough down and lightly spray or oil the top of it. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. With a piece of tape, mark the side of the container at approximately where double the height of the dough would be. Refrigerate the dough overnight (or up to 3 days).
Preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to 475°F at least 30 minutes before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone, cast-iron skillet, or baking sheet on it before preheating.
Shape the dough: Cut the dough into 8 pieces.
On a lightly floured counter, with lightly floured hands, shape each piece into a ball and then flatten it into a disk. Place it on a baking sheet and cover the dough with oiled plastic and allow it to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.
Roll each disk into a circle a little under 1/4 inch thick. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes before baking. 3 minutes before baking brush a little water onto the pita.
Bake the pita: Quickly place 1 piece of dough directly on the stone or in the skillet or on the baking sheet, and bake for 4 minutes. The pita should be completely puffed.
While hummus is always delicious, we could also fill this warm pitas with some homemade falafel… Hmmm…. inspiration for the next recipe!
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen