June 7, 2012 · 18 comments

Pita Bread – Fresh From the Oven

in Bread,Challenges,Fresh From the Oven

This month’s Fresh From the Oven challenge has been held by the owner of great blog Slice of My Life and the round-up for this will be done by Purely Food.

The challenge is for one of my favourite breads: pita.

In these cold, wet, rather miserable days what could be better than spending some time pottering round a warm kitchen, kneading and proofing and baking?

As regular readers will know, I have a bit of a ‘thing‘ for baking with yeast. There really is something so therapeutic about it, that other forms of cooking just cannot replicate or live up too.  Not that I don’t enjoy other forms of cooking & baking, don’t get me wrong, I love all forms of cooking.  In fact I love food, full stop.

Pita breads are simple to make, but, I confess I use my KitchenAid free standing mixer to knead the dough which takes all the effort out. Doing it by hand takes a fair bit more effort of course, but either way these breads are worth it.

pita2 Pita Breads

Yet another bake that tastes better homemade.  In fact, pitta don’t just taste better; they blow shop bought pitta out of the water.  Since I first starting baking pitta a couple of years back I have never reverted to buying prepacked ones.

Pita (Pittot) are such a staple of the diet of many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries. I’ve often said that if I get to visit Israel (I hope I will one day soon) I’ll come back looking like a falafel stuffed pita but that is beside the point. Here’s what Jana Gur has to say about the humble pitta:

Pita is not just an extremely popular pocket bread, it is the mainstay of the way Israelis eat. Anything can go into a pita — from chocolate spread (a favorite school snack) to a whole lunch, such as schnitzel with salad and French fries. Apart from packing it with innumerable foodstuffs, pita has another important use: to mop up hummus, tahini, labane, eggplant and other dips, spreads and salads. Pita must be oven-fresh or it’s no good.

The recipe used for the challenge was very simple and straightforward, yielding light breads which beautifully puffed up on baking. I used a baking stone instead of a baking tray as I find you get better results with them.

I have also included my favourite pita recipe, from Janna Gur’s amazing book: The Book of New Israeli Food.

Perfect served with dips such as hummus, beetroot hummus, baba ganoush, dukka, or to serve stuffed to the gills with falafel and salad, or just alongside a tagine to mop up all those lovely juices.

So versatile, so tasty, so simple. What are you waiting for? Go Bake!

Pita bread freshly baked. Fresh From the Oven: Pita Breads

I am also submitting this post to the fabulous YeastSpotting run by Susan over at Wild Yeast.

Pita Bread
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Ingredients
  1. 500 grams bread flour
  2. 1 sachet instant yeast (usually approx 7g)
  3. 360 ml water tepid temperature
  4. 1 tablespoon sugar
  5. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  6. 30 ml olive oil
Instructions
  1. Mix the yeast with the flour in a mixer fitted with a kneading hook. Add the water, sugar, salt and olive oil and knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth, shiny and slightly sticky.
  2. Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl. Sprinkle olive oil over it, cover with cling wrap and allow to rise to twice its original size.
  3. Preheat the oven to maximum (250c or the equivalent).
  4. Place the dough on a work surface sprinkled with flour and divide into 10 equal parts. Roll each part into a ball. Cover with a moist towel and leave for 10 minutes.
  5. Roll out each ball into a disk 10-12 cm (4 inches) in diameter and 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) thick. Arrange on a tray lined with baking paper and bake for 5 minutes, just until the pitas swell up and begin to show golden spots. Avoid over-baking, which will cause them to dry up.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Cover the pitas with a kitchen towel for a few minutes to keep them soft.
Notes
  1. Variations: Pita with Sesame and Nigella Seeds Toss the dough balls in a bowl containing 1/2 cup sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon nigella seeds, until fully coated. Roll into disks (the seeds will sink into the dough) and bake as instructed. Pita with Za'atar Combine 1/2 cup za'atar spice mix with 1/2 cup olive oil, coarse salt to taste and a few drops of lemon juice, until a spread-like paste forms. Spread a tablespoon of the paste on each pita just before placing in an oven preheated to 200°C. Bake for 10 minutes. The heavy coating and relatively low baking temperature produce a thicker flat pita with no air pocket.
Culinary Travels http://culinarytravels.co.uk/
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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Anita Menon June 8, 2012 at 05:31

Thanks so much for the mention. I love the b&w photograph. the pita bread looks fantastic.

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George@CulinaryTravels June 8, 2012 at 13:30

Thank you Anita.

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At Anna's Kitchen Table June 8, 2012 at 11:31

Those pittas look great George!

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George@CulinaryTravels June 8, 2012 at 13:34

Thank you Anna :)

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The Dinner Ladies June 8, 2012 at 12:33

After my recent virginal success with pizza base, I actually think I might give these a go! Thanks….
m

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George@CulinaryTravels June 8, 2012 at 13:38

Hi M, I hope you’ll enjoy these. Do please let me know if you try them.

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Aoife Mc June 8, 2012 at 13:39

These look wonderful, and quite straight forward to make! I’ll have to give them a go. Thanks for the link to my dukkah recipe too :)
Aoife Mc´s last blog post ..Spiced Roast Chicken

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George@CulinaryTravels June 8, 2012 at 17:35

You’re welcome Aoife & thank you for coming over to comment. Let me know how you get on if you do try them.

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Purely food June 28, 2012 at 20:45

Thank you for taking part this month. These pitas look great and I am glad you enjoyed the challenge. I do not seem to have an email from you with your photo for the round up. If you want to be included in the round up please email me a photo to include.

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George@CulinaryTravels June 28, 2012 at 21:20

Thank you, I did greatly enjoy taking part. I will email you again this evening (last email must be lost in cyberspace).

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SarahJ | Curious Cuisiniere June 29, 2012 at 04:17

Great pictures! Your pitas look fantastic!
SarahJ | Curious Cuisiniere´s last blog post ..Chicken Sausage Breakfast Bake

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George@CulinaryTravels June 29, 2012 at 12:51

Thank you Sarah.

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Sally - My Custard Pie June 30, 2012 at 06:31

I use my Kitchenaid for sticky doughs too – although the rest of the work I did by hand as I used Dan Lepards gentle kneading method – not arduous at all. The monochrome pic is gorgeous.
Sally – My Custard Pie´s last blog post ..Memories of muhammara

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George@CulinaryTravels June 30, 2012 at 20:46

Thank you Sally. I’ve never really got on with Dan’s method, preferring instead to use the ‘River Cottage’ method.

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Tandy July 1, 2012 at 15:30

I ate felafel in pita every night we were in Israel! I really need to get a baking stone :)

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George@CulinaryTravels July 1, 2012 at 18:55

Oh yes Tandy do get one, they’re invaluable for good bread baking.

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