For some reason, I have a problem with leftovers. I’m not really sure when it started, but it seems that every time I make something for dinner, I never eat the leftovers. John told me he was really surprised one day when I heated up Mexican pizza to eat the next day, and that’s when I started to realize – there are 3 foods that I actually like as leftovers: 1) pizza, 2) Thanksgiving, & 3)chicken parm. However, the fact that I don’t like leftovers doesn’t mean that I NEVER eat them. In fact, last night I made some delicious chicken gyros with homemade tzatziki sauce (one of John’s new favorite meals), and there is so much left over that I would really feel pretty guilty letting them all go to waste. In order to make the leftovers taste a little better, I thought – I’ll make something new to go with them! And so began the adventure of making homemade pita bread.
For my first time making pita, it tasted great!, but it wasn’t the prettiest thing I’d ever seen….. It definitely didn’t look like store bought, and I’m not sure you could really call it a “pocket”, but it was delicious fresh out of the oven! Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes….
One of the things I find the most difficult about making bread, is all the “wait 10 minutes, let rise for 20 minutes…etc”. So I wrote out the time estimates for each step. Also, the steps that require you to ACTIVELY be doing something are denoted with a * (as opposed to the steps where you can, if you’d like, stare at the dough while the yeast works its magic).
Recipe for Pita Bread
3 cups plus 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (454 grams (food scales are great for flour!))
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
*STEP 1: 10 minutes: Using a spatula, mix ALL ingredients together in the bowl of a mixer (Yep, all at one time – you don’t have to put the yeast in the water and let it sit, and all that jazz). Using the dough hook attachment, knead the dough for about 10 minutes (speed 4 on the Kitchen aid), or you can work up a sweat and knead it by hand.
It should go from looking like this:
To looking like this:
STEP 2: 8 hrs – 3 days OR 90 minutes: Once the dough looks smooth, place it in a bowl sprayed with oil, and then spray a little oil on top of the dough. Cover and let sit in the fridge for 8 hrs -3 days OR in a warm, draft free place for 90 minutes. (I love this step because the recipe actually says, “for best flavor development, mix the dough up to 3 days ahead” – Yeah for making things ahead of time!)
*STEP 3: 3 minutes: Divide the risen dough into 8 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball.
STEP 4: 20 minutes: Cover the dough with a damp towel and let it sit for 20 minutes. This step allows the dough the relax before you start shaping it – if at any point you have trouble shaping the dough, just let it relax for a few minutes, and it should be easier to shape.
*STEP 5: 15 minutes: On a lightly floured surface, take each piece of dough and shape it into a circle using your hands and/or a rolling pin. This is the step that gave me some trouble. In retrospect, I was trying to make the pita too large, and therefore the dough became very uneven in thickness. The next time I make these, I will try to roll them to about 6 inches wide, 1/4 inch in thickness.
Above – See how uneven they are? Don’t try to roll them as thin as I did. The most important thing is to keep them even.
STEP 6: 30-40 minutes: Place the rounds on an oiled baking sheet and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise for 30-40.
STEP 7: While the rounds are rising preheat the oven to 475 degrees. If you have a baking stone, place it in the oven and preheat it as well. If you don’t have a baking stone, turn a baking sheet upside down and preheat it in the oven.
*STEP 8: 9 minutes: Place as many rounds as you can fit on your baking stone at a time in the oven (I put 3 at a time). Bake each for 3-5 minutes, and then continue with the remaining rounds, cooking each for 3-5 minutes.
The second time I made them, I made sure they were very smooth and even before baking them and look how nice they puffed up:
Recipe Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen