Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Quick & Easy Homemade Pita

You know that amazing pita bread you get at middle eastern restaurants?  The kind that makes you just want to eat bread for your entire meal?  I LOVE that stuff.  But the dry grocery store pita comes NOWHERE near that pillowy deliciousness that you get in a restaurant...  So I consulted my Flatbreads & Flavors cookbook and discovered that hey, it's really not that hard to just make it myself!

I used half white flour, half wheat flour (Trader Joe's White Whole Wheat) - I kind of have to trick myself into eating whole grains, and this really tasted just like the restaurant stuff!  

Dissolve 2 tsp yeast in a cup of warm water (not too hot! You'll kill the yeast!) - 5ish minutes should do it.

You're not proofing it, so it doesn't need to get foamy or anything.

Add the flour (2.5 cups), 2 tsp salt, and 1 tbsp olive oil and knead with your dough hook for 8 minutes (or by hand for about the same amount of time).

Cover with plastic wrap in oiled bowl, let rise for 1 hour.

You see? You can tell the dough is wheaty, *just* the right amount if you happened to be raised on white bread only like me...

Make your dough into a disk and cut it into 8-10 pieces, flattening each into a small round.  

(If your cast iron pan is tiny like mine, make more rounds!)

Meanwhile, heat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat...

And start rolling your rounds!  They don't need to be perfect - you'll get better at it the more you roll!  This is a great spot to get your 5-year-old to help, particularly if he or she is adept with the play dough rolling pin ;)

Once the pan is warm, drizzle it with olive oil, spread it around, and toss your first pita in!

Turn on your kitchen fan!  Mine always gets really smokey when I do this...

It'll bubble up beautifully like this - you can use a towel to press the bubbles to try to make it puff up in one piece, but I don't really care about the inner cavity so I didn't bother...  Anyway, once it gets to this point (After 1-2 minutes), it's time to flip it!

Admit it...  You want to eat this right now!  Cook it for another 1-2 minutes, rolling out the next pita while it finishes up.

You might want to make a double batch...  These babies go fast!

The bread in the background is from this recipe - our favorite!
Before you know it, you will have finished making the whole batch!  You can do them in the oven too, on a pizza stone or an upended cookie sheet.  I like the cast iron pan better because it means I don't have to open and close the oven door a trillion times - too many kids running through the kitchen for THAT to be safe!

We've been eating them with homemade hummus & veggies for a really simple meal.  And I'm going to start making double batches and using them for sandwiches, too - how delicious will these be with grilled marinated chicken and veggies once the weather warms up?

If you're a bread novice, this would be a GREAT recipe to start with!  And one that your kids could definitely help out with, too.  But be warned...  You may end up eating 1 or 2 rounds before you're even done cooking them!

Quick & Easy Homemade Pita

2.5 cups flour (plus more for kneading - I used 1 cup white whole wheat, 1.5 white)
2 tsp yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup warm water

1. Dissolve yeast in water in the bowl of a stand mixer, let stand approximately 5 minutes.
2. Add flour, yeast, salt, & olive oil and knead with dough hook 8 minutes (or by hand with extra flour for kneading).
3. Oil bowl & dough, cover with plastic wrap, let rise 1 hr.
4. Divide dough into 8-10 rounds.
5. On floured counter, roll each round into 6-8" circle (1/8-1/4" thick). Heat cast iron pan over medium-high heat.
6. Drizzle olive oil into heated pan and add one round at a time, cooking 1-2 minutes before flipping and cooking another 1-2 minutes.
7. Enjoy!

I thinking I'm going to try adding minced garlic & herbs next time to kick things up a notch - what are YOU cooking lately?

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