I grew up enjoying one of my favorite breads, pita, on a weekly basis. In Brazil it’s called “pao sirio” (Syrian bread). As I’ve mentioned before, Middle Eastern food is very popular in Sao Paulo, so my weekends often included visits to a particular spot that sold bags of freshly baked flat bread. It was similar to what we call “pita” here in the US, and usually associate with Greek food. The current bagged stuff at grocery stores pales in comparison to freshly baked pita, and it’s so easy to make that once you master this technique, I doubt you’ll go back to the commercial versions. Unless, of course, you’re lucky enough to have a Middle Eastern bakery right in your neighborhood…
Dan’s method involves a simple dough (flour, yeast, sugar, olive oil, a little salt) prepared with his minimal kneading procedures, divided into 8 portions, and each one rolled into an oval or circle about 5mm (1/4 inch) thick. The flat breads bake over a blazing-hot baking sheet for a few minutes, until they puff (or not, depending on how well you hit the correct thickness) and acquire a hint of color.
When you hit the jackpot – the slightly elusive, “just-right” thickness, you’ll be rewarded with a beautifully puffed up balloon in your oven!
Comments: Whenever I succeed in baking bread with my electric oven, I wear a smile and walk on top of the world for a few days! Baking 8 pita circles took some patience and fiddling with the oven. Besides baking one at a time, I had to start with the rack in the center, and as the bread puffed up I quickly moved it to the lower position. Against all odds, I didn’t burn myself! It took me more than an hour to bake the full batch, which told me that the dough can sit at room temperature for a long time and still produced great pita!
By the way, if your pita doesn’t inflate as a balloon, it will still be delicious. In fact, I like to roll a few slightly thicker, because they produce a softer bread, with more crumb and a chewy texture. It’s a nice change from the “pocket” version, that also re-heats a little better next day.
I am thrilled to submit this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting, my first this year!
ONE YEAR AGO: Tried and Tasted Round-up