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Middle Eastern Pita Bread

Middle Eastern Pita Bread

Home baked then grilled, Middle Eastern pita bread.

‘Great Sauces Transform Good Food into Gourmet’ 

Binge baking

Kneading over and

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over again until the dough was elastic and smooth. Baking each batch in an extremely hot oven, approaching 500 degrees. I’m finally well satisfied with the result. It all started when I got fed up with pita bread purchased at grocery stores. Honestly it’s not the real deal, not even close.

I’d recently eaten at Lebanese Taverna in Bethesda, Maryland and loved tearing off pieces of their grilled pita and scooping up hummus. Then a few weeks later I had a delicious, more textured pita at Mazza in Salt Lake City, Utah. I had a Pita on Cooling Rackcraving to make warm pita in my home kitchen that became my charter. What texture and taste will my final version become?

Audrey, my daughter, speaks Arabic so she hunted down some Middle Eastern food websites and translated several pita recipes. These were Arab Egyptian and Palestinian recipes in their native tongue.

I made many editions of pita bread. One week I turned out 4 batches in 6 days. Some were thicker and spongier like Greek pita, some almost cracker like. Each one had a slightly different balance of ingredients; flour, salt, yeast, sugar, water, oil, reaching for the right texture. Adjusting, tweaking, testing quantities. Working on nuances I experimented; all-purpose or bread flour, active or instant yeast, olive or vegetable oil, sugar or honey.

Rising and resting time is another variable. Recipes greatly varied. I tried rising after kneading, resting after portioning, and rising after rolling. By the time I arrived at this recipe I discovered my favorite was 30 minute dough rise, then roll and bake. Happily it cut the start to finish time almost in half.

Stacked Pita BreadMy taste testers were troopers through the thick and thin of it, literally. We tested them plain on their own merit, then with accompaniments like hummus, falafel with tzatziki sauce and feta cheese dip. They shared feedback, concerns and celebrated successes. I arrived at a version that is a little chewy, thin enough to tear and dip, but still pliable enough to wrap around fresh falafel. To make the absolute perfect, puffy, golden brown pita rounds, crank the oven to 475 degrees, bake on a heated baking sheet on the bottom oven rack, and then flash grill for striped char flavor.

You might also enjoy Hummus, Falafel with Tzatziki Sauce, Baba Ghannouj, Feta Tzatziki Dip, Roasted Red Pepper Htipiti, and Creamy Italian Feta.

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Recipe: Middle Eastern Pita Bread

Prep Time: 20 Min | Inactive Time: 30 Min | Cook Time: 30 Min | Yield: 12 Pitas | Level: Moderate

Ingredients
flour, yeast, sugar, salt

  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup warm water

Special Equipment – baking sheet

Instructions
1 Combine flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Add olive oil, water and stir into flour mixture until mostly together.

Rising Dough2 Dump onto a work surface and knead for 10 minutes working in the balance of the flour and creating a smooth elastic dough. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

3 Meanwhile half way through the rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place a baking sheet in the oven on the bottom rack set at the lowest position.

4 Divide dough into 12 small balls. Cover with a cloth. One at a time roll them into 1/8-inch thick circles. Take the

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hot baking sheet out of the Divide Doughoven and spray with cooking spray. Once you have 3 dough circles, lay them on the hot baking sheet and place in the oven on the bottom rack. Bake for 5 minutes until golden and puffy. Remove from the oven and place on a rack. Repeat until all the dough is baked.

5 Heat a grill pan on high heat. Spray with non-stick spray. Grill both sides of the pitas just until they sustain char strips, about 30-60 Cutting Pita Breadseconds. Serve warm.

Information
Notes
Bake pita bread earlier in the day for dinner or a party. Grill pita just before serving.

Try baking pita bread on a pizza stone.

Applications
Cut in 6 wedges and serve with Hummus, Baba Ghannouj, Tzatziki Feta Dip, Roasted Red Pepper Htipiti and Creamy Italian Feta Dip.

Wrap around falafel with diced tomatoes, cucumber raita and shredded lettuce.

Dish Designer

  • Exchange sugar for honey.
  • Exchange vegetable oil for 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.

Inspiration – Helen Horton

SaucyCuisine.com
Cook with Sauces
Written by
Photographs by Helen Horton
Updated: June 9, 2013

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One Response to Middle Eastern Pita Bread

  1. helenhorton June 25, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    Great pita bread!

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