Friday, October 30, 2009

Pleasing pitas

No photos today. I was very frazzled by the time dinner rolled around last night. We all have those nights, right? I made the awesome greek food that I posted here previously to rave reviews from the peanut gallery. I was going to be a slacker and just buy pita breads, but the lonesome package on the shelf at the grocery store displaying an expiration date a day past didn't boost my confidence much. I've made my mom's recipe before, but hers tend to be chewier than I like, so I hit the internet and found an excellent tutorial. I made a couple modifications, and I baked them in the oven the way I'm accustomed to it rather than trying the griddle way that she mentions. I am posting this the way I made it and had an 8 1/2 out of 10 success rate with getting them to poof up all the way through.

Pita Bread

3 cups all purpose flour + additional for dusting
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 T. honey
2 t. kosher salt
2 t. yeast
2 T. olive oil
1 1/4 cups warm water

Mix the flour, salt and yeast together in a bowl, then stir in the olive oil and warm water until a shaggy dough forms. Let rest for 10 minutes. Knead for 5-10 minutes and knead in additional flour as necessary, but go easy on this. The dough will be a sticky and moist dough, which is ok. The moisture is what makes it puff up. Lightly oil a bowl, pop the dough in and flip it over until evenly coated. Leave in a warm place and let rise until doubled.

Place a baking stone or heavy duty cookie sheet in the oven with the rack in the lowest position. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Split the dough into 8 equal pieces on a work surface that is lightly dusted with flour and let them rest for a few minutes covered with a damp towel (this allows the dough to relax and makes it easier to roll into a round). Working with a couple pieces at a time, roll them into a 6-8 inch round, 1/4" thick. Mist each lightly with water then place carefully on the preheated stone or baking sheet. Bake for 3-4 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden on the bottom side.

Immediately remove to a wire rack and cover with another damp towel until ready to serve.
I ate leftover breads today and they were perfectly soft and pliable. I like the hint of sweetness the honey gives, plus the blend of flours - 100% whole wheat is much chewier and less flexible, and 100% white flour doesn't have as much flavor. You also may allow this bread dough to slow rise in the refrigerator for hours, removing 60 minutes or so before you want to use it so that it can come up to room temperature. Also, if you have a couple of unruly pitas that don't puff up like I did, toast them with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt for some excellent pita chips - fabulous for hummus!

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