Sunday, June 5, 2011

Homemade Pita Bread

I've been wanting to try making my own pita bread for some time. I find that the options available at the store (no matter a big grocery store, Outpost or our favorite Greek grocery store) are always a little too dry for me and don't taste as good as the fresh stuff you get at local Middle Eastern and Greek restaurants. Plus, I've been seeing lots of blog posts about it (including on my friend Debbie's blog, Le Food Snob), so I knew it was time.

Nate found a pita pocket dough recipe in the Corner Bakery Bread & Dessert Maker Cookbook that came with our Breadman bread machine, which made it easy enough to get started. The recipe was simple enough (and I liked that it included whole wheat flour--I'm not sure all pita pocket recipes do):

Pita Pocket Dough

  • 1 1/3 cups 80* water

  • 8 tsp. olive oil

  • 4 tsp. sugar

  • 1 1/4 tsp salt

  • 2 cups bread flour

  • 1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour

  • 2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast

Place all ingredients in that order in the bread machine. Set on "dough" cycle (it took my machine about 1 hour and 30 minutes to make the dough).

To bake:
When dough is ready, place on a lightly floured surface. Divide into 10 pieces (we weighed the entire thing and then divided by 10). Shape each piece into a smooth ball.

Place 5 balls on a large baking sheet. Place the remaining 5 balls on another sheet. Let rise about 20 minutes (we were away from the house when the dough was done, so we considered the extra time the dough spent in the bread machine the rising time). With fingertips, flatten each ball into a 6-inch circle.

Bake at 500* for 5 minutes, or until puffed and tops begin to brown (it took us about 8 minutes).

Cut each in half to form 2 pockets (depending on what you're using the pita for, this might not be necessary).

Nate formed five of the pita rounds and I did the other five. For some reason, his were much puffier than mine were00but mine got a little more brown. I'm not sure what that means, but in any event, both version of the pita tasted really, really good. Some of them weren't too easy to spit into pockets (one side always tended to be thinner than the other), but it might take some practice to get it right.

I think it's safe to say that like the corn tortillas we made, I'll never be buying pita again. The pita was great with the baba ghanoush I made as well as as sandwich bread. It was lighter, fresher and a bit chewier (which I like) than the store-bought stuff.

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