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Feb 15, 2012

The DIY Kitchen: Easy-As-Pie Pita

I’ll admit it, I have been on a bit of a baking spree lately. But could anything possibly feel as good as the time-honored tradition of mixing yeast, flour and water?
This recipe is a great recipe for novice bakers from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (my personal Bible). The rise time is short (1 to 2 hours), but the face time is even shorter. Just mix, knead, and wait. Of course, the longer you wait, the more flavor your bread will develop, so if you have the inclination, plan ahead and let this rise up to 8 hours, or even for a full day or two in the fridge. Making pita bread is incredibly rewarding — even if you botch it, what you make will be better than you’ll find in a store.  I paired it with an incredible recipe for Pan-Fried Corona Beans and Kale from 101 Cookbooks.

Easy Pita (adapted from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian)
3 cups bread flour (all purpose will do just fine, too)
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little extra to brush on top
2 teaspoons dry instant yeast
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1) Mix everything together in a large bowl, using a wooden spoon. If you have a food processor, that’s even easier.
2) Add 1 cup water and mix until thoroughly combined. Continue adding water, a tablespoon or so at a time, until everything is thoroughly combined and your mixture has formed a ball. When it gets too difficult to stir with the spoon, don’t be afraid to use your hands. It should be slightly sticky — keep adding water, a little bit at a time, until you get there.
3) Cover the bowl with a plate and set to rise is a warmish space, out of direct sunlight, for 1 to 2 hours. It’s ready when it’s about doubles in size.
4) Divide the dough into six pieces and shape each into a ball, sprinkling each with a bit of flour. Cover with a towel and let rest for about 20 minutes.
5) Roll each ball out with a rolling pin to a pit less than 1/4 inch. They need to be pretty think so they can puff in the oven, but if you don’t get the first batch thin enough, no worries! It will still be delicious.
6) Turn the oven to 375 degrees and let the dough rest, covered while it’s heating. Meanwhile, lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil. If you have a pizza stone, even better, use it.
7) Bake the disks two at a time (or however many will fit) until one side is brown, then flip. You want them to get slightly puffy, but if they don’t, totally okay. Mine didn’t puff as much as I’d like and were still yummy. Each side will bake somewhere between 3 and 7 minutes. If it’s taking longer, your dough is too thick. Try spritzing the tops with water for a better puff.
If you’re indulgent, brush with a bit of olive oil. Then EAT and ENJOY.