Friday, February 23, 2007

Pita Bread

This pita bread recipe comes from Beard on Bread and I find it to be a simple and reliable technique for producing a classic style pita.

You Will Need:

2 packages active dry yeast (one packet equals 2 ¼ teaspoons)
¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
2 cups warm water (100-115 degrees F.)
¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons salt
6 cups bread flour (aprox)
cornmeal for dusting pans

Dissolve the yeas in ½ cup of the warm water with the sugar in a large mixing bowl and allow to proof. Add the remaining ingredients mixing in the flour one cup at a time. Knead until no longer sticky (about ten minutes). Shape into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover and let rise 1 ½ -2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Gently de-gas (don’t punch the hell out of your dough as Beard suggests) and let rest on a floured surface for ten minutes. Divide into 8 or 9 pieces and shape into balls. Cover with a cloth and let rise for 30 minutes. Flatten each ball with your palm and then roll to 1/8 thickness. Place 2 on a lightly dusted baking sheet and cover again. Let rise another 30 minutes. Begin pre-heating the oven to 500 degrees F. with one baking sheet on the lowest position and the other at the next to highest. Place a sheet on the lowest shelf and leave in for five minutes. Beard is rather specific about not opening the door until the five minutes are up, but that seems like a bit of superstition to me. After five minutes, move them to a higher shelf and bake another 3-5 minutes until the loaves are puffed and lightly browned (don’t overbake or you’ll have pita chips!). Remove them to cool on towels so they do not develop a crust. The loaves will deflate when cool.

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