Monday, July 27, 2009

Pita Bread

Did you really think I was going to post a recipe for Gyro without another one for Pita?  My partner Jeremy came up with this recipe out of his big black book of secrets that he guards with his life.  Inside are all of his favorite recipes including a cheesecake that is to die for.  We will never post that recipe, however he would be happy to make one for you should you want one.  This pita recipe however we will divulge since it's basically a white, yeast bread dough, and all of these are pretty much the same with just a few variations.  People are scared to death of making homemade bread, and I don't know why.  Just a few decades ago, it was a skill most everyone had, because for one, it's really easy, and two...  It's just plain cheaper.  Flour, water, and yeast.  That's all you need.  It takes about $.50 to make a loaf of bread, and only about 15 minutes of time.  Granted, this pita recipe takes a little longer, simply because you have to bake them individually.  I will tell you that when I put the Gyro into this pita, and bit into this soft but somewhat chewy warm bread, my eyes did roll back into my head for a couple of seconds.  There is a huge difference in flavor and texture between this homemade pita and the crappy pita pockets you buy in the store.  After making these, you will never buy pre-made pita again.

1 package dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar

Ya know the temperature of your bath water after you've been in it for about 20 minutes, and you are so relaxed, but ready to get out because it's no longer hot enough to continue relaxing you?  That's the temperature you need this water.  Slightly warmer than lukewarm, but not hot enough to give you that initial skin scald when you get into the bath.  If you use water that is too warm for this recipe, your dough will overproof, and will not be as good.  Put all of this into the bowl of your stand mixer, or into the bottom of a stainless steel bowl.  Whisk well to combine, and let sit for 10 minutes until it is a beautiful frothy, yeasty goodness.  

3 cups bread flour 
1 1/4 tsp fine grained sea salt

1 cup warm water

Sift together flour and salt into a separate bowl and combine with the yeast mixture and an additional cup of warm water.  Turn your stand mixer on low speed and let the water yeast and flour mix for about 7 minutes.  The dough will be loose, that's OK.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.  Flour your hands as well, and begin to knead.  The dough will be sticky at first, but just add flour a Tbsp at a time until the dough is still soft, but no longer sticky.  From this point, knead an additional 5 minutes.  Imagine the face of that red haired, freckled kid at school that used to make fun of you, rub dirt into your hair, and punch you in the arm.   That's it, now you're really kneading, be aggressive, you can't hurt the dough.  After the dough is Kneaded, put into a stainless steel bowl with 2 Tbsp of olive oil.  Turn the dough over and over in the oil until it is completely covered.  Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place in your kitchen for an hour.  

After an hour, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured cutting board.  Roll it with your hands into a log shape, and cut in half.  Cut each half in half again, and then each quarter into three equal pieces.  Roll each into a ball and leave on the board covered with a towel for another 15 minutes.  

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Put your pizza stone onto the middle shelf of your oven.  What?  No pizza stone?  That's OK, do you have a stoneware baking dish, or pyrex?  You can use that, just turn it upside down and use the underside to bake on.   Otherwise, go to home depot or Lowes, go to the tile section, and ask for an unglazed, untreated, large floor tile.  They can be up to 16" in width.  MAKE SURE IT'S UNGLAZED, and UNTREATED.  You don't want to be poisoned.  Also the unglazed saucer of a large terra cotta pot makes a great pizza stone.  Using a rolling pin, flour your workspace and pin and roll your dough balls out into 8" disk, or to about 1/8 inch thickness,  and place on the hot pizza stone in the oven.  These go so quickly it's best to do one at a time.  (make sure that stone sits in that 500 degree oven for at least 10 minutes before you cook your pita.)  They should only take about 60 seconds to cook the first side.  (in making these last night, I would actually put one pita into the oven, and then immediately begin rolling out my next one, by the time I was done rolling the next one, the first one was ready to flip.)  When air pockets start to form in the center of the bread, flip the pita over using a pair of kitchen tongs.  Let cook another 45 seconds to a minute, and they are done.  Stack them on a tea towel.   enjoy!

By the way, the pita stays soft the next day too, and a great breakfast is pita and Nutella with sliced banana, YUM!

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