Homemade pita. Ambitious, but who am I to shy from ambition? I’d be a poor blogger indeed if I didn’t share something new with you all, whether or not it’s a success. (The picnic got rained out, but we just moved it inside and saved the trouble of schlepping around a basket.)
The key to getting the pita just right is figuring out how to make them puff. Smitten Kitchen saved the day once again with a handy little tip: it’s all about the moisture. She spritzes her pita with a spray bottle two or three minutes before cooking each one on a hot cast-iron skillet or baking stone. Learning from the best, I scrounged up my roommate’s spray bottle and got to work…except it really didn’t work for me. They bubbled, sure, but they never got that balloon-like puff I was looking for. Lacking both time and a particularly picky audience, I left the batch as-is and merely served my falafel with tasty flatbread. Someday, I’ll make this again and figure out what I did wrong. For now, I’ve got a picnic to cater. 🙂
Homemade Pita (makes 12)
- Start these the day or night before you’re planning to serve them. Mix three cups flour, two teaspoons salt, two teaspoons olive oil, and a packet of rapid-rise yeast (or two teaspoons of instant). Add one-and-a-quarter cups water, and stir and squish the mixture until it forms a soft dough lump.
- Turn the dough out onto your kneading surface (again, marble baking board for the win!) and knead for, oh, five minutes or so. I pay very little attention to the kneading times given in recipes. When the dough is smooth, the dough is smooth.
- Let sticky dough rise, under the overturned bowl, for twenty minutes or so.
- Knead some more, then plunk into oiled bowl and press down. Cover the bowl and refrigerate.
- Every couple of hours, check the pita. Punch the dough down (gently) the first two times, then let it rise.
- (Mess up your evening’s proceedings briefly by having used the wrong bowl. Leave the pita where it is and go do dishes.)
- The next morning: remove your lovely pita lump from the fridge. Divide it into twelve pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Flatten each ball and leave them on your baking board to rest for twenty minutes or so. Go have some tea.
- Grease your cast-iron skillet and heat it to medium (6, on a gas stove). Fill a spray bottle with water.
- Roll out your pitas nice and thin, and relatively round, and spritz them with water. Let the water soak in for two or three minutes.
- Cook your pitas in the skillet. They should first start to bubble, then lift around the edges. Flip ’em around a bit so one side is flat and slightly browned and the other side is bubbly and cooked.
- Slide your pita-flatbread-things onto a plate, cover with a towel, and serve with falafel and tabbouleh. 🙂