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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pita Bread

Where do the summers go? It seemed like only yesterday that I made this pita bread. We had just planted our flowers and the days were endless (literally). The trees are so green in these photos that there is no way I could pass this off as a fall post. Now, I wake up to bright pink and stunningly orange skies reflecting off the bright yellow leaves of the birch trees. This has become one of my favorite times of year since moving to Fairbanks. I actually moved here three years ago mid September. Now, with working at the University the start of a new school year feels like a time for renewal. It also so time to catch up on the blog and do some housekeeping. I have three posts that I started this summer. This one for pita bread is a keeper, a no fail recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I had always wanted to make pita bread, but found it a bit intimidating. What if they didn't puff up? How could I fill them? The worries were unfounded, these turned out beautifully and dare I say the recipe made in a stand mixer is almost easy.



Pita Bread
adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen

3 cups plus a scant 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients. With the paddle attachment, mix on low speed just until all the flour is moistened, about 20 seconds. Change to the dough hook, raise the speed to medium, and knead for 10 minutes. The dough should clean the bowl and be very soft and smooth and just a little sticky to the touch. Add a little flour or water if necessary.

Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, scrape the dough into a 2-quart or larger dough-rising container or bowl, lightly greased with cooking spray or oil. Press the dough down and lightly spray or oil the top of it. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. With a piece of tape, mark the side of the container at approximately where double the height of the dough would be. Refrigerate the dough overnight (or up to 3 days), checking every hour for the first 4 hours and pressing it down if it starts to rise.

Preheat the oven to 475°F one hour before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone on it before preheating.

Cut the dough into 8 or 12 pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the rest covered with a damp cloth. On a lightly floured counter, with lightly floured hands, shape each piece into a ball and then flatten it into a disk. Cover the dough with oiled plastic and allow it to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Roll each disk into a circle a little under 1/4 inch thick. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes before baking.

Quickly place 1 piece of dough directly on the stone and bake for 3 minutes. The pita should be completely puffed but not beginning to brown. Note: The dough will not puff well if it is not moist enough. See how the pita puffs, then, if necessary, spray and knead each remaining piece with water until the dough is soft and moist; allow to rest again and re-roll as before. Fill with your favorite veggies, hummus, etc...

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