Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pita Bread 101


Every home should have a pizza stone.

I don’t make pizza that often and I use this thing all the time.

Not for the obvious reasons, either.

For this one.

It makes great bread. You see, my first foray into successful bread making happened because of a pizza stone.

And since then I’ve become a bread making nut.


My latest success?

Pita.

I know you’re thinking, why would I want to make this when I can pop down to the nearest Whole Paycheck and buy a bag and have it ready when I want.

Because it tastes great, it can be made in five minutes, it goes with lots of things, and it’s a member of each of the Official Feeding Groom Food Groups:

A: EASY
B. FUN
C: FABOO
D. IMPRESSIVE


So….why not? The brilliant Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois from the fantastic Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day have mastered the art of fast, tasty bread and this pita bread is TO DIE FOR.

Go on, get a pizza stone, watch this video, buy this book and make some bread….


Pita Bread
Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois

Make this basic dough a day ahead.

3 cups lukewarm water
1-½ tbsp granulated yeast (1-½ packets …but get the yeast for bread machines and you can measure it out yourself…much easier)
1-½ tbsp coarse salt
6-½ cups unsifted, unbleached, all purpose white flour

Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5 quart bowl. Don‘t worry about it not dissolving. Mix in the flour, all at once, and mix with your hands until combined. Don’t knead the bread dough, it’s not necessary.

Cover with a lid that fits well to the container you are using. I use a plastic cake carrier and leave one side open when I put the top on. If you seal this tightly, you will have a minor explosion in your kitchen which will knock a fresh tomato on the floor and take 2 years off your life…simultaneously, so be careful.
Let this sit on the counter in the kitchen for at least two hours and then refrigerate it overnight. It’s much easier to deal with cold dough instead of wet. Believe me.
You will have four pounds of bread dough that will last, in an airtight container, in the refrigerator for 14 days.

Now, when you are ready to make the pita bread, twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 500 degrees with the pizza stone in the oven. I put my stone on the top shelf, which I usually keep one notch up from the middle of the oven. Just before baking, dust the surface of the dough (still in the container you keep in the refrigerator) with a bit of flour and cut off a 1-pound piece. If you are making individual pitas, separate the round into four equal pieces. Dust the pieces with more flour and quickly shape them into balls, pulling it into shape by stretching the surface of dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go . Place dough on flour dusted cutting board.

Roll the dough balls out into a round with a uniform thickness of about 1/8 inch. Keep it nicely dusted with flour as you go. You can flip the dough over and roll it on the other side if you like. Place the rounds on a flour dusted pizza peel and slide them on to the pizza stone. Bake 5 to 7 minutes until lightly browned.

Take them out of the oven and place on clean dishtowel on a baking rack. Place another towel across the top. This keeps the breads from drying out.
Once they are cool, store in plastic bags. (You can make great quick pizzas with this pita bread, by the way.)

Makes 4 individual pitas.

Click here for a printable recipe!

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2 comments:

Pam said...

Those look great! I love that bread book. I plan on using it alot over the school year.

peter said...

I made sourdough pita a while back and it was great. It's amazing how much better homemade is.