I used to bake a lot of bread back when I was in grad school, but then I stopped. Lately I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of it—not enough to join one of the ever-popular challenges, but enough to have it around. Homemade pita has to be one of my all-time favorites.
This particular batch is from the somewhat fussy directions in Rose Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible, but since her commentary suggests that any pizza dough will do, I’ll spare you the ingredients. The key in pita dough is in the kneading, the shaping, and the heating of the oven. So, more or less, here’s what you do.
1) The dough is fairly wet, so use a stand mixer if you have one. Just toss everything in the bowl and mix on medium low with a dough hook for a good 10 minutes. The dough should be fairly smooth.
2) Let it rise slowly to develop flavor. I stuck mine in the fridge and shaped it the next day.
3) When you’re ready to start shaping, split the dough into ping pong ball size pieces. Don’t roll them, though—you want to shape them by pulling and stretching without breaking the gluten. Set them on a flour-dusted surface, squish slightly, cover with a towel, and let rest 20 minutes.
4) Roll each ball into a disc about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick (about 4 inches). Let them rest another 10 minutes, this time without a towel.
5) Meanwhile, get your oven nice and hot, preferably 500°F. If you have a baking stone, great; if not, just invert a roasting pan. The point is that you need a hot, smooth surface that you can put the pita on. Toss as many as will fit in the oven and bake three minutes. Give the oven a 5-minute break between each batch to let it warm back up.
And look at them! So puffy, with the cute little pocket inside! Tasty, too. Word on the street is that you can also cook them on a griddle or hot skillet, but I haven’t tried it. If you have, and it works, please tell us in the comments!