Ocassionally, when we have an evening with no plans, we will make some Middle Eastern dips and some fresh pita to go along with it for dinner. Fresh pita is so moist and delicious that I wonder why I was ever content with what we buy from the grocery store. The recipe is adapted from one in Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads. It takes a bit of time but is very well worth the effort. The bread lasts a couple of days in a ziplock bag and freezes well, too.
Fresh Pita Bread
2 Tbsp. Instant yeast (I like Saf Instant)
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 c. warm water
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
5-1/2 c. 00 flour or all purpose
In a mixing bowl combine yeast, sugar, and water. Whisk to dissolve yeast and let sit 5 minutes to foam. Add oil and salt. Turn the mixer on low and add 2 c. flour. Mix well. Add 3 more cups of flour, a little at a time. Mix well for 1 minute. Take the remaining 1/2 c. flour and spread a bit of it on a flat surface. Turn the pita dough out onto that surface. Add a bit of flour to the dough and knead for a minute. Let the ball of dough sit for 5 minutes, then give it one final knead for a minute. Divide the dough in half, then take each half and roll into 10 balls, sized just smaller than a golf ball. You will need a little flour to prevent them from sticking, but don’t use very much. Place the 20 doughs balls 1 inch apart on the floured surface. Cover with a large tea towel to rise for 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the rack in the center of the oven. Cut foil into 12 roughly 7″x7″ squares. You will be cooking your individual pitas in the oven directly on the foil. Take one risen dough ball and roll out on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin to a 6-inch circle, about 1/4 inch thick. They may not be perfectly round but that will come with practice. Place rolled-out dough circle on a piece of the cut foil. Repeat with 5 more dough balls. When you have 6 pita on foil place the 6 foil packets directly on the oven rack and bake for 5-7 minutes until puffed and pale. You can leave them a minute longer if you want the pita to take on a slightly brown tone. While they are baking prepare 6 more pitas and place on the remaining pieces of foil. Remove the baked pitas from the oven when they are done, then slide them off the foil and onto a rack to cool slightly. (They may loose some of their puffiness as they cool, but this is to be expected.) Put the next batch of 6 pitas into the oven and, while they are baking, roll out the next 6, placing them on the original six pieces of foil. Continue in this manner until all the dough is used. Serve warm. Makes 20 individual pita breads.