The other day I was reading about a basic bread recipe in one of my favorite old cookbooks Laurel’s Kitchen. She suggested to make one loaf from half of the batch of dough and then make about a dozen pita breads out of the other half.
My curiosity was peaked. I’ve taught how to made pita bread in the bakeshop classes before, but I never considered making them at home. So, I though I’d give it a try.
I divided the dough into 12 round smooth balls, rolled them out and baked then on the hot pizza stone.
Here’s the recipe from Laurel’s Kitchen, not quite verbatim.
This is half of the original recipe since we aren’t making an additional loaf here today.
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 3 cups whole wheat bread flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups warm water (not over 110°F)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon oil
Mix the dry ingredients, make a well in the center of the bowl. Mix the wet ingredients then pour them into the well made in the dry ingredient bowl. Mix on low-speed in a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with a dough hook until everything comes together.
If the dough seems too dry at this point, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. If the mixture is too wet, add more flour.
The perfect dough will feel slightly sticky, not firm and clay-like.
If kneading by hand, knead for 20-30 minutes. Using the mixer, knead on medium speed for 8-10 minutes until the dough in elastic.
Oil the surface of the dough, cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size.
Pre-heat the oven to 450°F, place a baking stone (if you have one) on the bottom shelf. Remove all other shelves before you heat the oven.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Divide the dough into 12 or so smooth round balls. Cover and allow the dough to rest in a draft free area for 10 minutes. Laurel claims this step is essential.
Starting with the first ball made, roll out 2 or 3 balls into a disk “about the thickness of a good wool blanket” or 1/8 of an inch thick. The circles should be about 6″ around.
If using a heated baking sheet, place 2-3 dough circles flat onto the hot stone. Move quickly to retain heat in the oven, but don’t get burned either.
Quickly shut the oven door and set the timer for 3 minutes.
Turn on the oven light and watch the pita bake.
At 1 minute they look like Mrs. Douglas’ hot cakes on Green Acres; the next minute the magic happens as the dough begins to puff up like a balloon! It’s fun to watch! Let it cook through the third minute. The dough is done when the bottom side is lightly brown and the top side slightly moist, but not shiny wet.
Don’t let the pita get golden brown on top too or else the pita will dry out and be crispy instead of flexible and all foldy like.
The key is to be sure the dough circle lay flat on the stone or the baking sheet, whatever you use.
Cut the pita in half and you’ll see the perfect pocket for stuffing!
My favorite pita sandwich is a couple of slices of roasted chicken, turkey or ham filled with chopped salad and drizzled with Italian dressing, top with shredded cheese.
The chopped salad has lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, radishes and shredded carrot in it, cut so it fits easily into the pocket pita.
Try it if you want, I sure had fun!
We’ve had pita sandwiches of all kinds, pita pizza, and toasted some for pita chips to go with the guacamole.
A word about Laurel’s Kitchen: The New Laurel’s Kitchen is a vegetarian cookbook published in 1976. It was one of my favorite books when it came out. I have literally worn out 2 copies and am working on a third.