One of the disadvantages of living in a small town is the groceries. We have two food stores here, one large chain and one small local place. Restaurant selection is similarly limited. I adore Greek food such as hummus, olives, feta, and pita bread. I can buy many of the ingredients at the grocery store, but the pita is pitifully poor. I crave fresh and fluffy pita folds for my Greek sandwiches. There's a fantastic restaurant about 50 minutes away where I can also buy ingredients, but it's not often that I 'stop by'. It never occurred to me that I could make my own (or that I would want to) until I was looking through my Cooking Light Best Baking book and saw this recipe. I am very pleased to report that this was not a difficult task. Making puffy pita rounds is relatively easy if you compare it to making other yeast breads at home.
recipe from Cooking Light
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 package or 2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons warm water (100-110 degrees)
10 ounces all purpose or bread flour ( about 2 1/4 cups)
4.75 ounces white whole wheat flour (about 1 cup) such as King Arthur brand
2 Tablespoons Greek yogurt (reduced fat is okay)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
Dissolve sugar and yeast in the water in the large bowl of your mixer or your food processor and let it stand for 5 minutes. Weigh or measure the flour and add to the mix. Add the yogurt, oil, and salt and mix until well combined and sticky. Using the dough hook on the mixer, knead on medium speed for about 5 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic. This can also be done by hand for about 10 minutes. The dough will be soft. Place the dough in a large bowl coated with oil, turning it over to coat the top. Cover and let rise until doubled in size. This will take about 45 minutes at 85 degrees. If your house is a more reasonable temp of 60-70 degrees it will take closer to 2 hours.
Position oven rack on the lowest shelf and preheat a pizza stone if you have one to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide it into eight portions. Working with one portion at a time, gently roll each piece into a 5 1/2 inch circle. Use a rolling pin and be patient. Remember that if the dough gets tough and unresponsive you can let it rest for a few minutes and it will relax and cooperate again. Place 4 rounds onto a pan lined with parchment paper. You can bake the pita on the pan, or you can slide it on to the hot pizza stone. Either way, bake 4 rounds at a time for about 8 minutes at 500 degrees. It will be puffed and brown when done. Cool on a wire rack.
I was so excited when I turned the oven light on and saw the rounds of dough puffing up! It's like magic to watch a simple mixture of flour and water turn in to pita bread with perfect hollow centers. (For more food that magically puffs up, don't forget popovers.) I was not disappointed when I broke the first round open to reveal a soft bread and hollow center.