Saturday, January 10, 2009

Homemade Pita

If you love pocket bread as much as I do you will probably try to make it at some point. It's really not hard and it's magical to watch. The dough puffs up in the oven when it bakes to create the pocket inside.

This pita is made with a dough from the wonderful Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. The recipe makes a wonderfully soft dough that works perfectly for pita or pizza. Here is her recipe.

Unbleached all purpose flour - 3 cups plus 1/4 cup (16 oz, 454 g)
salt - 2 tsp (0.5 oz, 13.2 g)
instant yeast - 2 tsp (6.4 g)
olive oil - 2 tbsp (1 oz, 27 g)
water - 1 1/4 cups (10.4 oz, 295 g)

The dough should be kneaded very well. We used a kitchen aid with the dough hook and kneaded it for 10 minutes. Key to getting wonderful flavor is to let the dough rise long and slow in the fridge. Once kneaded the dough is covered to keep the air out and placed in the fridge. Let it rise slowly. After one night we let the dough rise on the counter then put it back in the fridge for another day. You can keep the dough for up to 3 days chilled. If you have the time the long slow fermentation creates a wonderful flavor.

After the dough has risen as long as you like, divide the dough into 12 equal balls and flatten them slightly. Cover them with plastic wrap and let them rest for 20 minutes. The dough will relax and make it easy to roll out.

Roll out your dough into rounds about 1/4 inch thick. If you like a thicker, more bready pita roll them thicker. I found using my pasta roller machine makes the pita with a consistent thickness. I rolled them up to setting 4 on my machine. Once rolled out let the dough rest for another 10 minutes before baking.

You must have a pizza stone or a cast iron skillet to make the pita. You can do it on top of the stove but I have found best results using a stone in a 475 °F oven. Preheat your stone for about an hour before baking. Slap the dough onto the stone being careful not to let it fold or have air pockets underneath. To get a consistent puff you want the entire bottom of the dough round to be in contact with the hot stone. See how the pop up after a minute or so? The steam insides puffs them. Bake for about 3 minutes or until you just start to see them begin to brown. I bake two at a time and place them on top of each other under a towel as they come out of the oven. After they have cooled for a couple of minutes I gently press them down to flatten them. They probably would flatten by themselves though. Be careful not to burn yourself from the steam inside.

See how nice they turned out?

A wonderful pocket inside.

Talk about a clash of cultures. How about a middle eastern pita with kimchee inside?


Bonnie Keeney said...

Hi Greg, Wow,what great looking pita bread...mine never wants to puff-up...I'm trying your recipe for sure...again..WOW...molly

Teresa said...

These look great! Can't wait to try them. :-)