Alright, so I wanted to try something new. Pita Bread. At first it sounded really daunting to me, but i looked at the recipe and thought, “how hard could this really be?” Well, it got tough. BUT, that was only until I found out the secret to a perfect pita. And I’m here to share it with you!
3 and 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
Keep in mind that you should let the dough sit for no more than 3 days. That is how long I left mine in the fridge and I got a great flavor.
1. Mix all your ingredients together in a mixer bowl. Now, you can use a mixer or do it yourself by kneading the dough. Personally, I chose to use my KitchenAid Mixer. It just made it a lot faster and easier.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients. With the paddle attachment, mix on low speed just until all the flour is moistened, about 20 seconds. Raise the speed to medium and knead for 10 minutes. The dough should clean the bowl and be very soft and smooth and just a little sticky to the touch. Add a little flour or water if need be.
Hand Kneading Instructions:
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. With a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until all the flour is moistened. Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together.
2. Sprinkle a bit of flour on a clean counter or a dough mat. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding as little of the flour as possible. Cover it with the bowl and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.
3. Take a bit of cooking spray or olive oil (I prefer the latter) and lightly grease the bowl. Put your dough into the bowl and oil the top of it lightly. I used a basting brush to put my olive oil on my dough. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Refrigerate over night or up to 3 days for the best flavor. If it starts to rise in the first 5 hours, press it down.
4. Preheat the oven to 475°F about one hour before baking. Place a baking stone, cast-iron skillet, or baking sheet in the oven while it is heating. The heat will help your pita cook faster and create the puff.
5. Cut the dough into small pieces. I got about 17 pieces out of mine. After a few trial runs, I found out that the smaller and thinner they were, the better they would cook and bubble up. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the rest covered with a damp cloth or paper towel. On a floured counter or mat, shape each piece into a ball and then flatten it into a disk. The dough can get very sticky, so make sure your rolling pin and hands are floured. Put your disks onto a cookie or baking sheet (you won’t put this in the oven). Cover the dough with oiled plastic and allow it to rest about 5 minutes before cooking.
Here comes the secret: MOISTURE. Once your put your disks on the sheet to rest, take your basting brush or other utensil and paint some water on the top. It will start to look like it will fall apart- stop then. You don’t need to drench it, but the moisture will give you a great puff. Pat the plastic down and let it sit and absorb for a few minutes before cooking.
REMEMBER: Thin and moist is good! You may have to use trial and error to figure out the best thickness.
Pretty straightforward huh? Here comes the tricky part.
6. Once your oven is heated, place 1 piece of dough directly on the stone or in the skillet or on the baking sheet, and bake for 3 minutes. The pita should begin to puff but not beginning to brown. The dough will not puff well if it is not moist enough. See how the pita puffs, then use your judgement to moisten each remaining piece with water. If your dough does not puff like a balloon in the first few minutes, they are too thick or too dry.
7. After 3-4 minutes in the oven or until they are puffed up, use a spatula to take them off the skillet. Put them on a clean kitchen towel or plate with a towel over it. The pitas can be reheated for about 30 seconds in a hot oven before serving.
There you go! Put some hummus, falafel, or anything else you want it in. Now, don’t be afraid of pita bread. It really isn’t that bad. Its actually really fun and exciting to see the dough blow up like a balloon. Don’t be too worried if they don’t puff up the right way; you’ll get it soon enough! Plus, the dough is delicious no matter what shape it is. Remember, cooking isn’t supposed to be stressful. Have fun with it!
* Using whole wheat or gluten-free alternatives are a great way to make this healthier.