Being on maternity leave is both a necessity as we adjust to a new baby, particularly their sleeping/eating patterns, and a bit of an indulgence since I actually have time to devote to tasks I would otherwise be too harried to undertake. One such task that I’ve been interested in giving a go is making pita bread. Word on the street is that they are actually rather easy to make and after having giving it a go, I full heartedly agree. They are also much tastier than the store bought version!
My first step was to find a recipe online. I went with Food Network’s version since it was easy and I already had all the necessary ingredients on hand. It does require some time to prepare the dough since it has to rise twice over a several hour period, but other than that it is way too easy to make these. Even when I return to work I can guarantee these pitas will certainly be a frequently made item in our kitchen. Without further ado, here’s the recipe:
- 1 teaspoon dry yeast (I used Fleischman’s)
- 2 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- About 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a large bread bowl. Stir to dissolve. Add whole wheat flour, one cup at a time, then 1 cup white flour. Stir 100 times (one minute). Let rest for at least 10 minutes, but up to 2 hours.
Sprinkle salt over the mix and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add white flour, one cup at a time. When the dough is too stiff to stir, turn it out onto a lightly floured bread board and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Return the dough to a lightly oiled bread bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least double in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours. Gently punch down.
The dough will make approximately 16 pitas if rolled out into circles approximately 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4-inch thick. Size and shape all depend on you, but for breads of this dimension the following baking tips apply:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Divide dough in half, then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide dough into eight equal pieces and flatten each piece with floured hands. Roll flat with rolling pin to 8-9″ diameter.
Bake 2 at a time (or more if your oven is larger) directly on baking stone or baking sheets. Bake each bread for 3 or 4 minutes, until the bread has gone into a full “balloon” or until it is starting to turn lightly golden, whichever happens first.
When baked, remove, place on a rack for about five minutes to let cool slightly, then wrap breads in a large kitchen towel (this will keep the breads soft).
Aaron loved the pitas as much as I did and agree they are tastier than store bought. I never cease to be amazed how homemade trumps machine made/store bought almost every time!