Saturday, January 21, 2012
pita. in my mother's kitchen
i used this recipe, which i loved for its simplicity because pita, when done right, is a simple, perfect food, delicious on its own, even better dipped in hummus. i changed it only slightly by increasing the salt by 1/4 teaspoon and mixing it all by hand. if you saw my mother's counter you'd want to make bread on it by hand, too.
ingredients for the pita:
4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 packets active dry yeast
1/2 cup and then 1 1/4 cups warm water
2 teaspoons sugar
to make the pita:
1. combine 1/2 cup warm water, yeast, and sugar and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
2. in a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, and olive oil until it's combined. make a well in the center of it and pour in the yeast mixture. add 1 1/4 cups warm water and mix with a fork until you're able to knead it by hand (you can use a stand mixer with a dough hook instead), which you should do for about 7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and not too sticky. add flour as needed. put the dough in a bowl lightly coated with olive oil, cover it with a cloth napkin or tea towel, and let it rise until it doubles in size, which should take about 1 1/2 hours.
3. when the dough has risen, tear off handfuls of it and roll into 12 equal balls, each about the size of an orange. cover them again and let them rise for another 30 minutes.
4. when the 30 minutes are up, roll out the balls into circles that are about 1/4 inch thick. no need to measure them or make sure they are perfect circles. cover them again and let them rise another 30 minutes.
5. preheat the oven to 500 degrees F and place the dough circles on a sheet of tin foil on a rack centered in the oven. bake for about 6 minutes, or until the dough circles have puffed up and lightly browned and look like... well... pita! i baked them in three batches of four.
it's a long process, but when you rip into the fluffy bread and a little steam actually rises from the center, and you bite into it and it's chewy and the flavor is simple but you can still taste the hint of olive oil and salt, and then you dip it into the hummus and baba ghanouj and labane that your dad picked up from the lebanese place for dinner, you will know it was worth it.