Perhaps I am naive, but I had always thought pitas got their characteristic pouch by placing one solid round atop another and then pressing them together just around the edges (like an empty ravioli maybe?). It’s not that I had given too much thought to the process, but it wasn’t until I saw the puffed pitas baking in the oven on The Kitchen Sink that I realized this bread was the result of cooking wizardry.
Though there are several steps, the recipe is quite easy to follow. Step one is to proof the yeast. Then, a portion of the flour is mixed in and rested until doubled in bulk.
The remaining flour is mixed in and then the dough is kneaded for about 10 minutes before resting for an hour, or until doubled in bulk.
Next, the dough is punched down and divided into eight balls. Each ball is rolled out into a 7″ round and placed on a baking sheet. Yet again, the dough must rest.
After 30 minutes, the rounds are ready to be baked in a 500 degree oven. After two minutes on one side, they are flipped and allowed to cook for just another minute. You really need to watch the clock though. I think my first batch stayed in just one minute extra and the result wasn’t a bread, it was a chip (don’t worry, they still got consumed with my favorite spicy hummus).
(Sorry photo is blurry. I was rushing so the heat wouldn’t escape!)
I don’t think I will ever buy store bought pitas again. Oh wait, you would like to know what the glorious mixture is spilling out of the pita in the top photo? That, dear reader, is my Southwest Chicken Salad. I will tell you how to make it if you come back tomorrow!
- 1 (¼-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1¼ cups warm water
- 2 c. bread flour
- 1 cup whole-wheat flour
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- Cornmeal for sprinkling baking sheets
- Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)
- While yeast mixture stands, stir together flours in another bowl. Whisk 1/2 cup flour mixture into yeast mixture until smooth, then cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Stir in oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water, and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour mixture until a dough forms.
- Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead, working in just enough additional flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and put in an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Punch down dough and cut into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Flatten 1 ball, then roll out into a 6 1/2- to 7-inch round on floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Transfer round to 1 of 2 baking sheets lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Make 7 more rounds in same manner, arranging them on baking sheets. Loosely cover pitas with 2 clean kitchen towels (not terry cloth) and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
- Set oven rack in lower third of oven and remove other racks. Preheat oven to 500°F.
- Transfer 4 pitas, 1 at a time, directly onto oven rack. Bake until just puffed and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over with tongs and bake 1 minute more. Cool pitas on a cooling rack 2 minutes, then stack and wrap loosely in a kitchen towel to keep pitas warm. Bake remaining 4 pitas in same manner. Serve warm.