March 14, 2009

Homemade Pita




Ingredients
3 cups flour
1 1/3 cups water, lukewarm
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 oz active dry yeast

ice cubes

Directions:
In a small bowl or measuring cup, sprinkle the yeast on the warm water. Allow to sit 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add the remaining ingredients to a stand mixer. After the 10 minutes are up, add the yeasted water and mix until it forms a ball. Add more water if it is very wet or more flour if it seems powdery. Continue to kneed if necessary. Place in a olive oil greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise until it doubles in bulk, about 60-80 minutes. Preheat the oven (with a baking stone inside if you have one) to 400. Punch the dough down and divide it into 6 to 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball and allow them to rise an additional 20-30 minutes covered with a damp kitchen towel.




Sprinkle a clean surface with flour and roll out each dough ball to about 1/4 inch thick.



Bake on the stone for 4 minutes or until cooked though and puffy. Toss the ice cubes into the bottom of the oven while the pita bakes to help it crisp up.



Note: the pita might deflate slightly as it cools (and certainly if you keep any leftovers overnight) but the pocket will remain.


My thoughts:
Making pizza dough the other day and seeing how it puffed up around the edge made me think about making pita. While I had never made pita before, I thought that a dough roughly based on my pizza dough recipe might work. So just a couple days after I made the pizza dough, I did a little experiment. I allowed for a longer second rise, lowered the heat and baked just for few minutes and sure enough, I had pita bread! The dough puffed up making a perfect pocket. The ice cubes in the oven sounds eccentric but it really worked in the sub roll recipe I developed a couple of years ago and it works here. Somehow the little bit of steam that is released really helps the texture of the crust.

I can't imagine ever buying pita again, it was so easy, cost pennies to make and was so tender and fresh tasting it was unreal. So much better than even the pita I've had at restaurants. This is my favorite kind of cooking, the kind where it feels like magic. Like wow, I figured out how to make marshmallows. Or better-than-the-original Chocodiles. Or pita with a real pocket.

15 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this! This is the first time I've seen a recipe for pita in the blogosphere and I had no IDEA that it would be this easy. Can't wait to try it myself. Spectacular.

    Daniel
    Casual Kitchen

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  2. I just made my first successful pitas last night - I had a hard time getting pockets to form but just needed to cook them a bit longer. Yours look awesome!

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  3. I love those last few lines! MAGIC. This is a great idea, and I'd love to have some to go with my homemade chicken salad today!

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  4. I've never even thought of making my own pita bread. Thanks for this recipe--can't wait to try it out.

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  5. Awesome! I've always wanted to try making pitas. Now I'm sold: I must take on this new culinary challenge.

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  6. Thanks for this recipe! Just wondering what sort of stone you used to baked these on? Would you get the same result cooking on just a regular baking tray or something?

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  7. Anon- It is just a typical baking stone. Any cooking/baking store would sell it. I haven't tried making it on just a baking sheet but it might be worth a try. The advantage of the baking stone is that it gets very hot, very evenly and helps cook and crisp the underside of the dough. A baking sheet can't quite do that. Again, it is worth a try but if you are interested in baking homemade pizzas or pita it might just be worth it to invest in a baking stone, they are not terribly expensive.

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  8. They look fantastic. I keep meaning to try making my own but never got round to it. Yours look great.

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  9. I love homemade pita bread, but I`d never heard of the ice cubes in the oven thing. I`ll have to try that!

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  10. These look great. I bought pitas the other night and they were good, but it made me want to make my own!

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  11. I love homemade pita. The method to cook it is similar to how I cook my naan at home. Your pita looks really nice. Thanks for posting!

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  12. I never thought that pita bread could be made at home...thank you so much for sharing it! I sure will try!

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  13. I'm am so addicted to home made hummus. How wonderful would it be to accompany it with home made pita? I must get up my nerve and try this.

    Thank you so much for sharing your detailed directions, Rachel.

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  14. I will surely try your pita recipe. They look super.

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  15. Trying these this weekend, they look so good!

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