Pita Bread

My grandfather moved my dad’s family to Greece for three years in the 60s for work, and during that time, my grandmother learned to cook some incredible Greek dishes.  In my childhood, every holiday Grandma Ann would make moussaka, spanakopita, and a variety of other items that has my mouth watering currently.

This early introduction to Greek and Mediterranean cuisine helped to open my eyes to foods that were very different from the typical American kid’s usual fare – I loved it!  With that being said, I was sitting at home the other night and had a hankering for some hummus and pita.  I’ve been making hummus for years now, but had always bought pita from the store to eat it with.  Now that I’ve started gaining more confidence in the kitchen, I figured I’d see if I could make pita myself.  I cracked open the King Arthur Baker’s Companion to see if they had a recipe, and I have to tell you, I’m never buying pita in the store again!

Keep reading if you want to learn how I was able to do it!  Let’s start with the recipe from the King:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups (12 and 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons dough relaxer (optional, but it relaxes the dough’s gluten, allowing you to roll it into pita shapes much more easily.)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) water
  • 2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) vegetable oil

Ingredients.jpg

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all the ingredients, mixing to form a shaggy dough.  Knead the dough by hand (10 minutes) or by machine (5 minutes) until it’s smooth.  Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and let it rest for 1 hour.  It will become quite puffy, though it may not double in bulk.

Turn the dough onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide it into eight pieces.  Roll two to four of the pieces into 6-inch circles (the number of pieces depends on how many rolled-out pieces at a time can fit on your baking sheet).  Place the circles on a lightly greased baking sheet and let them rest, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  (Keep the unrolled pieces of dough covered.  Roll out the next batch while the first batch bakes.)  Place the baking sheet on the lowest rack in the oven and bake the pitas for 5 minutes; they should puff up.  (If they haven’t puffed up, wait a minute or so longer.  If they still haven’t puffed, your oven isn’t hot enough; raise the heat for the next batch.)  Transfer the baking sheet to the oven’s middle-to-top rack and bake for an additional 2 minutes, or until the pitas have browned.  Remove the pitas from the oven, wrap them in a clean dish towel (this keeps them soft), and repeat with the remaining dough.  Store cooled pitas in an airtight container or plastic bag.


Ok, there was the cookbook’s recipe – now it’s time to see how I did it!

After I measured out all the ingredients, I dumped them into my Kitchen-Aid’s mixing bowl.

All in mixer.jpg

Next, I turned the mixer on medium-low using the bread hook attachment and let it knead the dough for 5 minutes.  Here’s what the dough looked like at the end of the kneading:

Mixed.jpg

I then sprayed a medium-sized bowl with non-stick baking spray, took the dough out of the mixer, and placed it in the greased bowl.

Dough ball.jpg

Next, I placed a clean dish rag over the top of the bowl, and let it sit for one hour to rise.  At the end of the hour, the dough looked like this:

Risen.jpg

I then took the dough out of the bowl and weighed it on a kitchen scale.  Using that number, I divided the dough into eight equal pieces.

Equal pieces.jpg

I then greased my counter top work space with a little oil (1 tablespoon) and rolled two of the dough balls into 6-inch diameter circles.  I placed them on a silicon baking mat in a baking pan and draped a dish rag over the unrolled balls still on the counter.  I let the circles sit on the baking pan for 15 minutes.

Rolled.jpg

While I was waiting for the 15 minutes to pass, I preheated the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  Once the 15 minutes was up, I placed the baking pan on the bottom rack of the fully-preheated oven and baked the pitas there for five minutes.  While this batch of pita was baking, I rolled out another two dough balls into the 6-inch circles.

They started puffing up nicely, and at the end of the five minutes, I moved the baking pan to the center rack for another two minutes.  I then removed the pita from the oven and wrapped them in a clean dish cloth.

I repeated the steps until I had all eight pitas baked.  Here’s how they looked:

Pita!

Let me just tell you, these things were great!  Some didn’t puff up as nicely as I’d like, but that was okay, they still tasted better than anything I had ever bought at the store!

Paired with some hummus I had been making while baking, it was exactly the snack I had been craving.

Now that you’ve seen how easy it is, give it a shot and let me know how it turns out for you! Happy baking, everyone!