Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pita Bread

As I continue learning how to use yeast to make bread, I've found yet another easy recipe on Amber's Delectable Delights blog. You can get the recipe here... as well as below. I figured that this would be a nice addition to the storebought hummus I usually buy (Athenos brand hummus, by the way), and was also curious to know how soft these would be, in hopes of using them to knock of Chilis' Chicken Ceasar Pita at a later date. Well, little did I realize but, this recipe inspired me to make my own hummus as well (recipe to be posted soon). Overall, the results were quite good, despite accidentally omitting the last rest right before baking! I paired them with homemade hummus and fresh cucumbers and even dipped them in my Superbowl Velveeta Salsa dip. Kind of reminded me of my husband's favorite appetizer back in the day (Don Pablo's flour tortillas, rolled up and dipped in queso). Will definitely make again!

3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon sugar or honey
1 packet yeast
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water, roughly at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil, vegetable oil, butter, or shortening

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. I ended up using 1.5 cups

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. 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. Form a ball out of the dough and place it into the bowl, rolling the ball of dough around in the bowl so that it has a light coat of oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel 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.

While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 450 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 - 6 inches in diameter. 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.

Place discs on a lightly greased baking sheet and let rise, uncovered, until barely doubled in thickness, about 30-45 minutes. (I actually forgot this step, and think I still got good results, but would have probably experienced even fluffier pita bread had I done this).

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. If you want your pitas to be crispy and brown you can bake them for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, but it isn’t necessary.
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