Friday, May 25, 2012

Pita Bread!

Friends. My inner Greek is coming out. Okay, the chances are very slim that I have any OPA! blood running through my veins, but a girl can pretend, right? My dad is adopted and we don't know his biological heritage, so I guess there's always a chance of being half Greek...

Anyway, no matter our ethnicity, isn't it fun to get to know other cultures through food? Pita bread is one of those foods that is synonymous with the Mediterranean. It's paired with hummus, usually, but can be sliced in half and stuffed with salad or sandwich ingredients. It makes lunch portable, and it's actually pretty easy to make.

Wheat Pita Bread
Use for sandwich pockets, bread at dinner or as a "dipper" for your favorite hummus or appetizer. This bread is light and crisp on the outside, with warm chewiness on the inside. Bring out your inner OPA!
Makes 8 pitas; Bake time: 3 1/2 minutes (not kidding)
Adapted from Joy of Cooking cookbook

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour + more for rolling
1 1/2 TB sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 TB active dry yeast (2 packets)
2 TB butter, melted
1 1/4 cups room temperature water (72--75 degrees)

Step one: In a large bowl or mixer, combine flours, sugar, salt and yeast. Stir for one minute. Then, add the butter and water and stir for one more minute. After combined, knead for 10 minutes (you can use the hook on your mixer for this). Dough should be pliable but not too sticky.

Step two: In an oiled bowl, turn dough so it is coated in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size. Let it rise at room temperature and away from any drafts (does not need to be in a warm place).

Step three: After dough has doubled, punch down and roll into 8 equal-sized balls. I put these on 2 dinner plates, spacing them out. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Step four: Get steamy: Using a pizza stone, preheat it for 20 minutes. If you don't have one (like me), turn a rimmed baking sheet upside down and heat in the oven for 5 minutes. Using a water bottle or a 1/4 measuring cup, spray/pour water over the baking sheet or stone. Close the oven for 30 seconds, to allow steam to form.

Step five: Time to bake! On a lightly floured surface (I used all-purpose flour), roll out 4 of the balls into 8-inch thin rounds. Set on top of the baking sheet/stone and bake for three minutes, or until it gets puffy. Once you notice the little puffballs, bake for 30 more seconds. Immediately remove from the oven with a large spatula and set on a cooling rack. Repeat the process for the rest of the dough balls. Serve warm or store in a zipper bag for later.

Way to go, you!

Happy eating!

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