As we continue to Shelter in Place at least through the end of this month, if not longer, my classes have been put on hold. However, I am lucky to still have my meal delivery clients. Not only am I still cooking for the Rents every night, but I have picked up new clients now that everyone is stuck at home.
The other day, I made some super-delicious Greek Meatballs with Tzatziki sauce for a customer. As I pride myself on delivering only completely homemade dishes, I knew I couldn’t serve this with store-bought pita bread. So I consulted my database of over 2,000 recipes and found that yes, I have a couple for pita bread. I went with the one from the NY Times, since they are almost always reliable.
The dough was super sticky, so I ended up adding more flour than the recipe indicated during the kneading. Could be due to the type of flour (even different brands of AP flour have different percentages of protein), the humidity, the temperature of my kitchen… who knows? The important thing to remember is, if you need to add more flour, do it just a tiny bit at a time so you don’t end up adding too much.
Another key is to not overcook the pita. Your oven should be well pre-heated, and your stone or cast iron should be blazing hot. The whole process takes just a couple of minutes. If you overcook them, they will get brittle and dry. And when you take them out of the oven, wrap in a dishtowel to keep them pillowy soft. It’s great fun to watch them puff up in the oven!
Since I’ve been trying to post things to keep you all engaged, I made a video of this whole process! Check it out, and be kind – I’m still figuring out how to do this.
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 35 grams whole-wheat flour 1/4 cup, preferably freshly milled
- 310 grams unbleached all-purposed flour 2 1/2 cups (plus more for kneading)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Put 1 cup lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl. Add yeast and sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add the whole-wheat flour and ¼ cup all-purpose flour and whisk together. Set aside until mixture is frothy and bubbling, about 15 minutes.
- Add salt, olive oil and nearly all remaining all-purpose flour (reserve 1/2 cup). With a wooden spoon or a pair of chopsticks, stir until mixture forms a shaggy mass. Dust with a little reserved flour, then knead in bowl for 1 minute, incorporating any stray bits of dry dough. If dough sticks too much to your hands, clean your hands off, then wet and continue kneading. Add more flour as needed until the dough is still damp but manageable.
- Turn dough onto work surface. Knead lightly for 2 minutes, until smooth, adding a tiny bit more flour at a time if needed. Cover and let rest 10 minutes, then knead again for 2 minutes. Try not to add too much flour; the dough should be soft and a bit damp. (At this point, dough may refrigerated in a plastic bag or covered bowl for several hours or overnight. Bring dough back to room temperature, knead into a ball and proceed with recipe.)
- Clean the mixing bowl and put dough back in it. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, or use a disposable shower cap. Put bowl in a warm, draft free place (a cold oven with the light on is a good option). Leave until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Heat oven to 475 degrees. Place a pizza stone or large cast iron pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Punch down dough and divide into 8 pieces of equal size. Using your had in a cupped manner, roll and form each piece into a ball. Place dough balls on work surface, cover with a damp towel and leave for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, slightly flatten each dough ball with your hands into a disc, about ½ inch thick. Cover and let rest again to further relax the dough.
- Remove 1 disc (keeping others covered) and roll to a circle about 8 inches in diameter, and about ⅛ inch thick, dusting with flour if necessary.
- Carefully lift the dough circle and place quickly on hot stone or cast iron pan. Use a spray bottle to spritz water in the oven 2 or 3 times, then quickly close the oven door. After 1 to 1 ½ minutes the dough should be nicely puffed. Turn over with tongs or spatula and bake 30 seconds to 1 minute more. The pita should be pale, with only a few brown speckles. Transfer warm pita to a basket lined with a clean kitchen towel and cover so bread stays soft. Repeat with the rest of the dough disks.