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.
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!
Fresh From the Oven: Pita Breads
I am also submitting this post to the fabulous YeastSpotting run by Susan over at Wild Yeast.
500 grams bread flour
1 sachet instant yeast (usually approx 7g)
360 ml water tepid temperature
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
30 ml olive oil
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.
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.
Preheat the oven to maximum (250c or the equivalent).
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.
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.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Cover the pitas with a kitchen towel for a few minutes to keep them soft.
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/