Ever wonder how to go about baking your own Pita bread? No? Yes? That's right, you can easily buy them at the store, but the ones I bake at home don't compare to anything I could buy, not even close.....Now that I have discovered how to do it myself, I quite simply can't live without this delicious alternative to sliced bread. Pitas are amazing pockets for the sandwich filling of your choice, and unlike bread can really hold a nice assortment of salads and dressings. And when you keep a stash frozen in your freezer, you can have a nice fresh Pita at a moment's notice.
2 kilos whole wheat flour
3 Tblsp dry yeast
2 Tblsp silan (date syrup) or honey
2 Tblsp olive/canola oil
2 Tblsp salt
4 1/2-6 cups water (depending on type of flour— organic whole wheat flour requires much more water)
To Make The Dough:
Combine one kilo of flour with entire quantity of warm water, silan and yeast. If using a mixer add water and then flour. If mixing by hand add water to flour. Allow runny dough mixture to stand for about 20-30 minutes such that the mixture rises, doubling in size.
Add remaining kilo of flour, salt and oil. Mix until a nice moist, but not too sticky dough is formed. Put the dough in a plastic garbage bag, seal the bag and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
(Don't forget to perform the amazing mitzvah of taking challah)
Forming The Already Risen Dough and Baking:
Step 2: Roll out balls using a rolling pin. Start rolling and alternate turning dough and rolling to obtain a round shape, and an even thickness. You don't want the pitas to be either too thick or thin, examine this photo for an approxiate guide. Pat around the edges of the circle to obtain a more perfect shape. If you will be baking one pita at a time, as described here, roll out about 10 or so of the balls and proceed to the next step.
Step 5: After approximately 1 min 20sec, lift lid to check status of pita. If the pita top is lightly browned, carefully remove from pan and place on dry towel. Some pitas may need another 10-15 seconds— if so close lid and check again shortly. While baking, if pita is the right thickness it will blow up like a balloon!
Step 6: While each individual pita is baking, alternate rolling out additional pita balls and brushing on a light coat of olive oil (optional) To get the timing right may take some practice, but it's worth the effort.
And if you burn a pita or two in the process, well that's part of the game! While you are baking the pitas don't plan to do anything but that, or it is simply too nerve wracking as well as dangerous, given the extremely hot open coil in the top of the pan!
Step 7: Allow pitas to cool completely, and those that will not be eaten the same day should be wrapped tightly and frozen to preserve freshness.
For Baking Pitas In The Oven—Here are two alternatives from friends in the know:
A.My French/Algerian neighbor who is an experienced baker came up with this alternative, which I have not yet tried myself but will at the soonest possible moment this week (hopefully)
- Turn oven on grill setting
- Cover oven tray or rack with baking paper and place as many pitas as you can on tray
- Insert tray into heated oven on level closest to grill element
- After approximately 1 minute check pitas, and if lightly browned turn over and bake on second side for another minute or so. Remove from rack onto dry towel and continue with next batch.
Note: Depending on the proximity of your rack to the exposed coil, the pita can rise and touch the coil, but my neighbor says this doesn't happen too often. So to be on the safe side, make slightly smaller pitas than I suggested, say 28 for 2 kilos, if using this oven baking technique.
B. My friend Keter who is neither French nor Algerian, but surely knows how to cook up a storm for the truck loads of guests that visit, read this post and gave her input as follows:
"I used to bake them in a turbo oven and the best result was to heat the oven up as high as possible, while putting a few rolled out pitas on the tray - then quickly putting the tray on the lowest rack in the oven allowing the pita to get the most amount of heat at one time. sThey puff up beautifully without needing to be flipped. Good luck! Any method is definitely worth it!!!"
About The Pita Pot:
I am sorry to report that the specific technique I describe here may only be applicable to residents of countries that use 220V, as the pot described may not be available in the United States in a 120V version. (I did a search on google and only saw pots like mine for sale.) The cost of the pot that I use is 60NIS in the souk, without the cord. When purchased in a housewares store the price should be around 80-85NIS. The cord costs an additional 20NIS.
Bon Appetit! I wish you all the very best if you decide to try this, and please ask your questions in the comments section below so that everyone can benefit!