For all the cooking I do, bread is not one that I have ever done much experimenting with. At least not yeast breads. Quick breads have always been something I consider more of a muffin-type baking item than bread, just because there isn’t any yeast. Throwing all the ingredients in a bowl and mixing them, then pouring it into a pan is too much like muffins or cake to be classified along with something as intimidating and daunting as the kneading, proofing, yeast breads.
That being said, I do own a bread maker and do use it quite a bit. In fact, in the 22+ years I’ve been married, I have gone through three of them. Wore them out, burned them up, or whatever the case, I am on my third bread maker yet don’t consider myself a bread baker by any means.
When I use my bread maker it is to make dough. Once the dough is done, I dump it on the “lightly floured” surface, form it into whatever shape I’m shooting for (be it a loaf or a roll), and bake it. Most of the time I’m not even patient enough to wait for the final “rise” of the dough before baking. Nope, I just form it and toss it in the oven. For the most part this has worked well enough, but I have decided it is time to conquer my fear of bread — real bread.
Deciding to face my intimidation of bread baking is one thing, jumping in with both feet is another. I couldn’t do it. I had to start with something small, something fool-proof (no pun on the proof intended), something that I couldn’t fail at or at least had minimal chance of failure. I’d have to get my confidence up before attempting anything like French bread or what I really want to make — Sour Dough. Thus, I decided on Pita Bread.
The family absolutely loves pita bread. Hubby buys it at least every other week and when he does, he typically brings home three or four packages which last about a week. It’s cheap enough, but if I could make it without all the preservatives and additives that are found in the commercial products, it would be a great addition to my recipe repertoire.
There are, as with every other recipe it seems, a ton of recipes out there on the Internet. I went through several of them and found them all to be pretty much the same. Next I read comments on the couple that I decided I might want to try. Then, finally, I watched a couple of videos. Can never be too prepared. Once I finished all that, I was ready to begin. I’d learned quite a few things I did not know about making bread, which because we are working with a blank slate here, is easy to understand. I’d never heard the term “sponge” used when making bread, had no idea what it was, nor why it was done, but I do now, and am definitely better for it. In fact, I think just knowing that might make it possible for me to make some changes to the recipe I used today and come up with a new pita bread taste. But, let’s not get ahead of myself.
Fried Pita Bread
- 2 1/4 tsp. Active Yeast
- 1 Cup Warm Water (between 90 and 100 degrees)
- 1 Cup Flour
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 1 3/4 tsp. Salt
- 1 3/4 Cup Flour
- 1 tsp. Olive Oil
The first step to making pita bread is to make a sponge. Place yeast in bowl of mixer and add the warm water. Whisk together until combined. Add 1 cup of flour. Whisk again until smooth. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. The point of this is to make sure that your yeast is active. If after 20 minutes there are bubbles in the “sponge” then you are good to go.
Next, add the 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil and salt to mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Add one cup of flour and mix at a low-speed, using dough hook attachment, until dough is soft. Add more flour a little at a time until the dough comes away from the side of the bowl. Then, continue kneading dough in mixer for 5 to 6 minutes until dough is springy and soft.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Grease inside of glass bowl with 1 tsp olive oil. Turn dough around in bowl to coat with oil, cover bowl with foil.
To proof this dough, place a pan of boiling water in oven preheated to 110 to 120 degrees. Turn oven off . Place bowl in oven, shut door and allow to rise for 2 hours.
On lightly floured surface, pat dough into a flat shape about 1″ thick. Cut into 6 – 8 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball with a smooth top, pulling dough from the sides and tucking the ends underneath the bottom. Cover balls with plastic wrap sprayed with olive oil and let rest 30 minutes.
Lightly flour work surface and top of each ball. Gently press each ball flat, forming a round bread about 1/4″ thick. Let rest 5 minutes. By the time you finish all the balls, you should be ready to move on to the next step.
Brush a non-stick or cast-iron skillet with olive oil and place over medium-high heat. Place flattened dough into hot skillet one at a time. Cook until bread begins to puff up and bottom has brown spots, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook 2 minutes more. Flip again and cook 30 seconds more.
What my family really liked about this recipe was how salty it was. Most of the recipes I found online called for only 1 tsp. of salt, the additional salt gave this pita bread a great flavor. I made 8 small pita breads today and 6 of them are already gone. I hid the other two because I am curious to see how they hold up overnight. Will they become rubbery, tough, soggy, hard, or possibly even seem greasy from being fried in oil? Granted I could easily make this as we need it, but it would be great if I could have some on the counter for snacking for a few days without having to worry about it going bad.
Before today, I had never even used the dough hooks on my mixer. It’s hard to believe I’ve gone 46 years and never used these, but it’s true. The pita bread was perfect. It puffed up real nice, the flavor was superior to store-bought pita bread, and it was easy. A great way to ease myself into the world of yeast breads, starting with a success story, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.