Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pita Bread

The pita when it comes out of the oven.

Part of the reason I love summer produce is that it reminds me of Mediterranean eating. Italian, Greek, Middle Eastern food all use similar vegetables. We are overwhelmed with said vegetables now. Eggplants in particular delight me. Creamy baba ganoush, decadent moussake, ratatouille (I know.. that's French...), eggplant parmesan. Yep, eggplants delight me. I've got a pretty sweet deal going right now as well--I trade my dreaded okra from my neighbor's eggplant (which she dreads). We both end up happy.

I decided the other day that I should make my own pita to go with my Greek/Middle Eastern food (we had a mezze supper the other night---perfect dinner for the summer---cucumber slices, grape tomatoes, hummus, tabbouleh, caponata--which didn't quite fit, and homemade pita). I will definitely be making pita again. I learned a few things--like let the pita circles do their final rise on a kitchen towel, like the recipe suggests. Otherwise, they are very difficult to get off the counter. Don't over flour the counter when rolling out the rounds--put a little flour on top of the dough, but let the dough stick a little to the counter to make it easier to roll out.

Pita is a little like pizza dough--you want to time it to be ready to eat right at supper time. I gave myself 2 hours before to make this. It took a little longer than that, but I suspect making this a second time will go much quicker.

This makes 10 6-inch pitas.

from Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

1 T active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
1 1/2 c warm water
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 t salt
3 1/2 - 4 c flour

Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over 1/2 c of water. Stir gently to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Combine the remaining water, olive oil, salt, and 1 c flour in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Stir in yeast. Beat in remaining flour, 1/2 c at a time until dough pulls away from bowl sides. Switch to dough hook. Knead on low speed until dough is stiff and sticky, about 3 minutes. Add a little flour at a time if the dough sticks. Transfer to dough to an oiled deep bowl and turn to coat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours (and which point, the kids and I headed to the swimming pool!).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it in half. Set one half aside and cover with plastic wrap. Divide the remaining half into 5 equal pieces and form into a ball. Repeat with other half of dough. Let rest 10 minutes.

Roll out the balls into rounds about 6" in diameter and 1/4" thick. Drape each round over floured rolling pin and transfer to a floured kitchen towel. Cover with another towel and let rest until puffy, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place a baking stone on the bottom rack of oven (if your stone has sides, put the stone upside down so it is totally flat). Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Preheat a baking sheet (not a baking stone, but a cookie sheet type pan) in the hot oven for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and quickly brush sheet with oil. Transfer 3 or 4 rounds onto cookie sheet and place it on the baking stone. Leave the oven door closed and bake until puffed and light brown, 6 - 7 minutes. Stack the pitas on a plate and cover with a kitchen towel. Bake remaining pitas and serve warm.

Finished Pita

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