Thursday, June 18, 2009

More pita goodness

Thanks to everyone for leaving comments! It was a real treat logging on this morning and being greeted by more than Hecklerspray and NapaStyle. :-)

The pita recipe again is adapted from Joy and it's about as simple as you can get. My limited knowledge of copyright law (thanks, Amanda!) means ingredients cannot be copywritten, only procedure and, as I've adapted it slightly, here is how it all went down:

3-3.5 cups bread flour
4.5 tsp active dry (not instant) yeast (2 packets, I believe. I have a one-pound sack of the stuff in my freezer and a yeast spoon [measures 2.25 tsp] but just use 4 tsp and it'll be fine.)
1.25 cups very warm water (body temp)
1 tbsp honey
Pinch salt
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Dissolve the honey in the water, then add the yeast and stir until dissolved. Give it a couple of minutes to proof: You want some nice foamy bubbles on the surface and a good, clean yeasty aroma. (I love doing this. It's magic the way the yeast feeds off the honey and blooms. And the way good yeast smells is heavenly.)

Put 3 cups of the flour and the pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl and stir the salt through. Add the yeast mixture and the olive oil and mix together either with the hook attachment (electric mixer) or with a wooden spoon until everything comes together. If you're kneading by hand, once it's all in a big, shaggy ball, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and slightly tacky but not all sticky, usually takes about 10 minutes. Which is why I use my beloved KitchenAid. :-) In a mixer it takes about 5 minutes. Use the last half cup of flour only if necessary to bring the dough together; however, if the dough is too dry, add water, a teaspoon at a time to get the right feel.

Once the dough is ready, oil the mixing bowl (no need to dirty another bowl) using again a really good olive oil, and plop the dough into it. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size and springy, usually 60-90 minutes. Punch it down, break off chunks, and roll into balls. I got 13 from this batch. Put the dough balls onto a plate, cover, and let rise for 20 minutes.

Once the dough is rolled, preheat the oven to 450. If you have a baking stone preheat that in the oven as well. If not, upend a baking sheet so you have a flat surface on which to cook the breads. Use one rack in the center of the oven because these get puffy and need room. Once the balls have risen, roll each one out on a floured surface until about 8-9 inches in diameter and about an eighth of an inch thick. You don't want very thin or they'll get crackery when baked. Remember to keep the rest of the dough covered while you roll so they don't get a skin on the surface. If this happens, don't worry, you can still use the dough, it'll just be a bit dry and harder to roll.

Slap the dough onto the hot stone or baking sheet and close the oven quickly. Set the timer for 3 mins, 30 secs no longer. The dough should puff up during that time but, if you leave it in for longer it will not completely deflate as it cools and it will be rather crackery. This isn't bad as the ones that turned out that way I dipped into some hummus as a snack. :-)

Remove the pita and place it on a wire rack to cool. Continue with the rest of the dough balls. I kept rolling whilst each one baked, and stacked them with a very light dusting of flour in between so they wouldn't stick.

Once they cool completely, store in a plastic zippy bag to keep them soft and fresh.

Now, I'm not going to say that these turned out like those you get at a store. I couldn't quite properly cut them in half and split them so they could be stuffed. They're more like a flatbread, to be folded around falafel or whatever you're in the mood for. Oh, and they'd make for a lovely gyro. (Now I want a gyro. I think I'll grill some lamb this weekend. And eggplant. Oh I'm hungry now. The granola bar is a distant memory.) This is why I think they'd be a nice sub for naan with an Indian meal. But the taste is out of this world, really, and I can't see going back to the packaged unless I'm in a bind. I haven't tried them with whole wheat flour as I like the taste of white bread and prefer to use wheat flour in loaf breads: those I toast and smear with butter and jam. :-) However, from a nutritional standpoint, these are vastly superior to a mushy white bread as there's only a handful of ingredients with no fillers or preservatives or--gasp!--the dreaded high fructose corn syrup. Plus, if you're wrapping them around something as gorgeously healthy as falafel, well, yeah, yum.


Bridget said...

Speaking of Amanda, how are you two doing with your recipe challenge???

Chow and Chatter said...

no probs your pita rocked

Jean said...

Hi Liza...thanks 4 the pita recipe, I love it. Btw, I have an Award for you, do check it out at my Blog.