I Pita the Fool

I Pita the Fool

I’ll admit it, I’m a fan of Mr. T. I used to watch the A-Team as a kid… anyone else? Hmmm… I think I just showed my age. For a short time used I even used the “Mr. T” voice on my GPS. However, I got tired of him calling me a fool if I missed a turn. Its all fun and games until you really start to feel like one! lol!

Anyway, I had some free time last week and decided I was in the mood the bake. After thumbing through my cookbooks, came across this recipe for pita bread. Since I had all of the ingredients on hand, pita it was! This was my first time making it, and I even impressed myself. Who know pitas were so easy to make and yet SO complicated looking! It really is fascinating how you can put a thin, flat piece of dough on a hot surface and it will balloon and turn into a beautiful pita. The best part is the dough is good in the fridge for up to a week. This means you can have fresh pita at your whimsy… Now THAT is good stuff, my friends!

A little hummus…

Some Campari tomatoes and a generous slice of feta…

and some uber-fresh tabouleh rounds out this dinner. Find recipes for the side dishes here.

Pita Bread Recipe
(adapted from Baking with Julia)

1 tsp dry yeast
2 1/2 c tepid water (80-90 degrees, F)
2 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 c unbleached all purpose flour

1. Stir the yeast and water together in a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon and stirring in one direction, add the whole wheat flour, about a cup at a time; then stir 100 times, or until the mixture looks smooth and silky. This is the sponge that needs to rest covered with plastic wrap for at least 30 minutes, although it is best if it can rest longer, up to 8 hours in a cool place.

2. Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and then stir in the olive oil, mixing well, again stirring in the same direction. Add the all purpose flour a cup at a time, mixing until the dough is too stiff to mix with the spoon. Scrape into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. The dough will be moderately firm and have a slight sheen.

3. Rinse the mixing bowl, dry it and coat it lightly with oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and turn to coat in oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours or until it doubles in bulk.

4. You can bake in the oven or on the stove top. I tried both ways, and preferred the oven, as you end up with a much more uniformly cooked product. To bake in the oven, place a baking stone or quarry tiles in the bottom rack of your oven. If you do not have these, you can also use a sheet pan. Preheat to 450 degrees.

5. Deflate the dough by kneading it briefly. Divide it in half and keep one half under plastic or a cloth while you work with the other. Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and with the light floured cupped hands, form the pieces into tight balls; keep the balls under plastic while you work on the others. On a well floured surface, flatted the balls of dough into a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick. Cover, but do not stack the rolled out breads.

6. Place the dough on the preheated stone and bake for 3-5 minutes or until the breads resemble well blown-up balloons. Don’t worry of you get seams or dry spots or less than full balloons (your tiles might not have been hot enough) the breads will still taste good. As the breads come out of the oven, wrap the together in a large kitchen towel. Finish baking this batch of bread, roll out the remaining dough and continue baking.

Makes 16 pitas

Note: To bake on the stove top, preheat a cast iron or heavy skillet over medium high heat and lightly oil. Bake one rolled out circle at a time, putting the pita top side down on the pan cooking for 20 seconds before turning over. Cook for another minute until big bubbles appear. Turn again and cook until it balloons completely.