Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Homemade Pita Bread


Chicken Gyros made with the homemade pita bread

If you've never had the pleasure of making (and enjoying) your own homemade bread, you should definitely give it a try. Working with yeast can be intimidating (believe me I've been there), but once you get used to it, it's actually not so scary.

I'm a big fan of pita bread, whether it's served with hummus, as part of a Gyros or just by itself warm with butter (yummm)....but I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of store bought pita bread. I was really excited to find this recipe for homemade pita. They were so soft, airy, pillowy, and delicious! I followed the recipe pretty much exactly as written but added my own tips based on my results.

Next time you want pita bread and are feeling adventurous, try this recipe. You will not be disappointed!


Homemade Pita Bread
Adapted from Annie's Eats and Brown Eyed Baker
Make 8 pitas

Ingredients
3 - 3 1/2 cups of flour (sub half with whole wheat flour if desired)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 T sugar (or honey works well too)
1 packet instant yeast (I used quick rise)
1 1/4 c water at room temp
2 T Olive Oil

Directions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, 3 cups of the flour, salt and sugar. Stir to combine. Add the olive oil and water and stir together with a wooden spoon. The mixture should form a ball. If you are left with flour that won't stick to form a ball, add a little more water and stir again. (Do not add too much more water).

Attach the dough hook to your stand mixer and place on the lowest setting. Knead for 10 minutes. As the dough is mixing, add more flour a little at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is still slightly tacky but no sticky. I added about 6-7 tablespoons of flour to mine, but your actual measurement may vary depending upon humidity etc.. Just look for the right texture (slightly tacky but not sticky). You shouldn't have to add more than 1/2c of flour to achieve this consistency. (If you don't have a stand mixer with a dough hook you can knead by hand).

Once you are done kneading for 10 minutes, place the dough in a bowl sprayed with non-stick spray and roll around to form a ball. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and allow to rise until doubled in size. This process takes about 90 - 120 minutes.

Rise dough, rise...

When the dough has doubled in size, punch down. Divide into 8 equal pieces and roll into a ball. Place the balls on a sprayed surface, cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes. This process relaxes the dough so it can be rolled out. If your dough resists when rolling out, it needs to rest a little while longer.

After the dough has relaxed, lightly flour a cutting board or other work surface, then use a rolling pin to roll each ball out into a disk approx 1/4" thick and 6" in diameter. You can also do this with your hands. Make sure your dough has an even thickness and isn't thicker around the edges (like mine were initially).

Place each disk on a greased baking sheet (I was able to fit 4 per baking sheet so you will probably need 2 baking sheets). Allow to rise uncovered until the disks are almost doubled in thickness. This process takes about 30-45 minutes.


While the disks are rising, place a pizza baking stone (or other stoneware) in an oven and heat to 450 degrees. I used a stoneware baking sheet for mine since I couldn't find my pizza stone. If you don't have stoneware, the bottom of any other type of baking sheet will do. Just make sure you preheat it in the oven. It needs to be nice and hot when you place the dough on it.

When your disks of dough are just barely doubled in size, place 2 at a time in the oven on the preheated baking sheet. Bake until cooked through and puffy (approx 3-5 minutes).

Remove from oven and repeat the process until all 8 disks are baked.
Fresh out of the oven...couldn't resist taking a bite!

Use immediately or store at room temperature and reheat in the microwave for a few seconds before using.


Note: I made Chicken Gyros with my pita by marinating 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts in a mixture of olive oil, fresh lemon juice, oregano, minced garlic, garlic powder, salt and pepper for 30 minutes then placing under the broiler until cooked through (approx 10 minutes per side). Allow the chiken to rest 10 minutes, then slice and fill each pita with chicken, romaine lettuce, tomato, red onion and tsaziki sauce.

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