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How to make Greek Pita bread

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This is my latest weekend obsession. Making pita bread.

If you haven’t had pita before, it is a traditional Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flat bread. It’s soft with a slightly chewy texture. It sometimes comes with ‘ air pocket’ in the middle so you can use it as a sandwich wrap or filled with whatever fillings you like. It is also surprisingly easy and fun to make.  After making several batches of pita bread I don’t know if I can ever go back to store-bought pita. It just doesn’t tastes as fresh.

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If you have an electric mixer with dough attachments then the process gets even more simple. You just let your mixer do the kneading work. I used my 7 year old $50 handmixer and it only took around 5-10 minutes to knead the flour mixture into a smooth and elastic dough. I didn’t break a sweat.

Just put the dough in a deep bowl, cover it with a hot damp cloth; rinse the cloth in hot water and squeeze out the excess water, careful not to burn yourself.  Just place the bowl inside the microwave and keep the door closed. The microwave retains the humidity and the warm temperature created by the cloth very well. You’d be surprised how humid and warm the environment inside the microwave is after 1.5 to 2 hours.

After the bread proofed, it’s just a matter of dividing the dough into small portions and rolling it into a flat, roundish shape.

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Bake them on a baking sheet or pizza stone for a mere 4-5 minutes. And then, munch munch… nothing tastes better like fresh bread coming out of the oven…

How do you like your Pita bread? Crispy or Soft?

 
How to make Greek Pita bread
 
Greek Pita Bread (adapted from about.com ) Prep Time: 2 hours 15 minutes Cook Time: 6 minutes per bread Total Time: 2.5 – 3 hours
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 sachet or 1 tablespoon instant dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • ½ cup of warm water
  • 4 cups of bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
Method
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add flour and make a well in the center. Add salt, sugar, yeast and water. Knead with hands for 10 minutes in the bowl (or 5 minutes if using a mixer. with dough attachment).
  2. Add olive oil and continue to knead until all the oil is absorbed. Shape into a ball in the bowl, cover, and place in a warm area to rise until doubled in volume, approximately 1½ to 2 hours. Punch down the dough and knead for 5 minutes more.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C), and lightly oil baking sheets.
  4. Take pieces of dough slightly larger than an egg and roll out on a floured surface to a thickness of ⅜ to ¼ inch. (For larger or smaller pita bread pieces, take more or less dough). Prick the bread with a fork in several places (NOTE: If you want air pockets, omitthis step).
  5. Place on baking sheets and bake at 350°F (175°C) on the lowest oven rack for 2-3 minutes, then turn the pitas over and bake for another 2-3 minutes*. Remove from oven and place on a tray covered with a clean dishtowel, with another clean towel on top. When thoroughly cooled, pitas can be stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or frozen.
  6. Before using, brown in a lightly oiled frying pan for a few minutes until browned on both sides.
Notes
*The pricked pita dough will not puff up whereas the non-pricked one would – you need to roll the dough really thin if you want it to puff up. I actually prefer the thicker softer pricked pita but my boyfriend loves the thinner crunchier pita…It all depends on your preferences. Just experiment with the dough until you get it right. It's so much fun!

*I always make this bread when I have about 2.5 – 3 hours to kill. I used to make it between 3-6pm on a Saturday or Sunday when I have some free time.

*For winter, place the dough in the microwave to proof (i.e., when the dough rises or increases in size as the result of fermentation). Just place the bowl inside the microwave and keep the door closed. The microwave retains the humidity and the warm temperature created by the cloth very well. You’d be surprised how humid and warm the environment inside the microwave is after 1.5 to 2 hours.