I have decided to retire the bread maker. It has served me well over the last few years but I’ve also discovered that I can make bread just as well, if not better, without it. I don’t particularly like the shape of loaf it makes and my mix master can do all the kneading for me so sadly it has to go. That and I need the cupboard space. I am returning him to my sister and instead am going to focus on improving my skills.
I’ve had my eye on making pita bread for months now. I’ve always marveled at how it can have a pocket inside. When I was younger I thought they must somehow seal two slices together. How else could they make such a perfect pocket?
This week I got the answer when I finally make pita bread for myself. I spiced it up with some multi-grain bread mix as well as plain flour and the result was perfect. They were just as good, if not better than the store-bought version and were really simple to make. It took about 20 minutes of hands-on work for my first batch but I think with practice you could whip them up in 10 or 15 if you use the mixer to do the kneading (plus kneading, resting and baking time).
It’s pretty fun to watch them puff up in the oven or maybe I’m just a strange person who finds bread puffing exciting?
To start the pita you have to prepare the yeast. Pour the water into the bowl of an electric mixer. I have found, with trial and error, that the best temperature for the yeast is between 100F and 110F. I just learned this week that it’s meant to be at blood temperature (37C) so I got pretty close with my experimenting. Mix in the sugar until it has dissolved.
Sprinkle the yeast over the sugar water and stir it in then leave it for 5-10 minutes until it starts to froth.
Tip in 2 cups of the flour and use the dough hook to stir them into the liquid. Add the rest of the flour as needed until the dough is no longer sticky then knead it with the dough hook for 8 minutes or until it is nice and smooth and elastic. Mine needed the 3 1/2 cups of flour.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and then cut it into eight equal chunks of dough. If you want them to be small, make more and if you want big pita breads, cut it into fewer chunks.
Roll each one into a ball and then roll them out with a rolling pin. Make sure that they’re nice and even all over or they won’t puff up nicely and give the pitas their pockets. I made mine about 1cm thick.
Lay them all out in a single layer and leave them to rest for 40 minutes or until they start to rise a little.
When they have risen, very carefully flip them over onto a lined and lightly-floured tray and bake them for 10-15 minutes at 200C. I’m not sure why you have to flip them. Next time I won’t and I will report back on the results.
This was the best I could do to get a photo of them puffing up in the oven – yes I am shining a torch into the oven because my light doesn’t work. One photo I took showed how hideously dirty my oven door is. I have added ‘clean the oven’ to my to do list. See, isn’t pita puffing exciting? No? Still just me?
Here they are nice and puffed up after the oven.
It didn’t say to do this in the recipe but I didn’t want them to get a hard crust on the outside so I piled them all up and wrapped them in a damp tea towel to cool like I do with tortillas. It seemed to work well.
They were rather rustic looking but I loved the result. This is definitely a recipe I’ll be making again. No more store-bought pita bread for us.
You can fill them up with whatever your heart desires or there is another option that I rather enjoyed (ps they are tomatoes from my garden!).
You can make them into individual pizzas. Just spread some tomato paste on top and cover them with whatever you have on hand. I used grated cheese, some feta and oregano and basil from the garden. They only need about 10 minutes at 180C fan-force or just long enough for the cheese to melt.
You can freeze the pitas in a container or freezer bag but make sure you put some paper between each one so they don’t stick.
So what about you? Do you have a bread maker? Does it get much use?
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