Sunday, November 15, 2009
simplest pita bread
I got this recipe from The Fresh Loaf. I had the best Greek food I've ever tried after taking the Physics GRE about a week ago. They served a giant pita bread for the whole table (~ 1.5 ft diameter) with delicious tzatziki sauce and hummus (these are much better fresh than if you buy them at the store, which is not always the case (... maybe I've just been to terrible Greek restaurants)). It was very satisfying to grab a piece of pita bread and guiltlessly dip it into these abundant sauces, so I decided to try making it myself.
It's exactly what you would expect from pita bread.
Makes 8 pitas
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar or honey
2 tsp yeast
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water, roughly at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
Mix the yeast in with the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the olive oil and 1 1/4 cup water and stir together with a wooden spoon. All of the ingredients should form a ball. If some of the flour will not stick to the ball, add more water.
Once all of the ingredients form a ball, place the ball on a work surface, such as a cutting board, and knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes (or until your hands get tired). If you are using an electric mixer, mix it at low speed for 10 minutes.
When you are done kneading the dough, place it in a bowl that has been lightly coated with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.
When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release some of the trapped gases and divide it into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so that it'll be easier to shape.
While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to preheat as well. If you do not have a baking stone, turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it on the middle rack of the oven while you are preheating the oven. This will be the surface on which you bake your pitas.
After the dough has relaxed for 20 minutes, spread a light coating of flour on a work surface and place one of the balls of dough there. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough and use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch and flatten the dough. You should be able to roll it out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. If the dough does not stretch sufficiently you can cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.
Open the oven and place as many pitas as you can fit on the hot baking surface. They should be baked through and puffy after 3 minutes.