Pita bread is usually the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Middle Eastern food. It is always served with shish kabob, shawarma and is inseparable companion of hummus. Today pita actually has many more uses, you can roll it into wrap or stuff it with whatever you want. I like to stuff mine with mixed lettuces, tomatoes, cucumber and feta for a delicious, healthy lunch. It so widely available in any supermarket that no one even thinks about making it at home but trust me it tastes so much better than the generic type that occupies store shelves. I’m sure you easily notice the difference in taste between store brand pita and restaurant quality pita. Homemade pita bread is as good as any pita you can find in an Middle Eastern food spot.
Ingredients (8 pita breads):
2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup warm water
1/4 oz dry active yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
In a glass combine 1 packet active dry yeast with 1 tsp sugar and 1/3 cup warm water. Mix and leave for 15 min for the yeast to start working.
In a bowl mix together 2 1/2 cup all purpose flour with 1/2 Tbsp salt. Make a well in the middle and add yeast mixture. Start drawing flour into the yeast. Very slowly add the rest of the warm water and incorporate with the flour.
When quite uniform transfer to a floured board and start kneading for 10 minutes until it’s elastic, smooth and not sticky anymore. You might have to keep adding a bit more flour on a board while kneading.
Form a ball with your dough, pour some olive oil on your hands and coat the dough. Place the dough in a bowl, cover and leave for 1.5 to 2 hours to rise.
After that time take out the dough and divide into 8 equal parts. Form balls and put on a floured board , cover with towel and leave for another 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 500°F. The oven has to be very very hot before you can bake pita breads. Arrange 2 or 3 on a cookie sheet and bake 6 minutes on a bottom rack. Do not be tempted to open the oven before that time or pita breads might not get puffy.
Note: In the beginning my pita breads weren’t coming out very puffy but I’ve noticed that when I sprayed the walls of the oven with water right before putting breads inside, they we coming out puffier. Also oven should be really hot so preheat it a while before baking pitas, not just right before.