Thursday, July 28, 2011

Next I'll find out it's a cinch to fix the cable modem

There are certain things I've always assumed are best left to the experts:

Snake charming.
Nuclear fission.
Anything in a Cirque du Soleil show.
Changing the oil in my car.
Deep sea diving.
Analyzing James Joyce novels.
Electrical wiring.
Making an entire dinosaur from a fossilized bug trapped in amber.

The list goes on.

But as of now, it is one item shorter.

Pita Bread.

Do-it-yourself Pita Bread
From the very aptly named How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman.  Not only is this ridiculously easy to do, but the bread tastes just like the pita the experts make, but better, because it's fresh and piping hot from your very own oven.

3 1/2 c. bread or all purpose flour, part whole wheat if desired
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. quick rise yeast
1 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for coating bowl
1 c. lukewarm water, plus more as needed

Combine flour, salt and yeast in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse to combine.  Add oil to water in a liquid measuring cup, then, with the machine running, pour the liquid ingredients into the food processor through the tube at the top.  Process for about 30 seconds.  The dough should be in a well-defined, barely sticky, easy to handle ball. If it's too dry, add water, 1 Tbs. at a time, and process until the ball of dough comes together.

Turn dough out onto a flour covered surface, and knead for about a minute by hand, until completely smooth.  The dough will feel very dense and heavy. That's OK.

Lightly coat a large mixing bowl with more olive oil, then place the dough in the bowl.  Cover with a slightly damp towel, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.  Remove from the bowl, punch down a little, then divide into 6-12 equal pieces, depending on what size pitas you want.   Roll each piece into a smooth ball, then set aside, making sure each ball is lightly floured.  Cover pieces with damp towel again while you preheat the oven.

Set oven to 500.  If you have a baking stone, place it in the oven.  If not, place a baking sheet in the oven to get hot while the oven heats up.

Roll each piece of dough out into a circle, about 6 to 8 inches in diameter, and perhaps 1/3 of an inch thick. Lightly flour and cover the resulting discs of dough, but do not stack them on top of each other.

When the oven is hot, place as many of the pita rounds as you can fit comfortably on the baking stone or cookie sheets.   In 2 or 3 minutes, the dough will puff up, forming the nifty little "pocket" in your pita bread.  Once puffed, remove from the oven and repeat with remaining dough.

Click to print this recipe!