Fresh homemade pita tastes so much better and is cheaper than store-bought. What’s more, this popular staple of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine is wonderfully versatile: pita bread is equally at home toasted and served with dip as it is when used as a base for pizza.
You can stuff the pockets of pita with almost anything you can think of to make a sandwich; slice the bread into triangles, toast and serve with any dip; even top with tomato paste, marinated vegetables and mozzarella cheese for a variation on pizza.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Baking time: eight minutes
Makes: four pita breads
- 375 ml (1 1/2 c.) of warm water (45°C/113°F)
- 5 ml (1 tsp.) dry yeast
- 5 ml (1 tsp.) sugar
- 750 g (3 c.) bread flour or all-purpose flour
- 6 ml (1 heaping tsp.) salt
- 7 ml (1 1/2 tsp.) olive oil
- 50 g (1/4 c.) minced fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, cilantro or parsley (optional)
- In a large bowl, combine the water and yeast. Using a fork, stir rapidly to dissolve the yeast. Add the sugar and 350 grams (1 1/2 cups) flour. Using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, stir until all the ingredients are well blended. Cover the bowl with lightly oiled plastic cling wrap and let stand in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about two hours.
- Add the salt, 375 millilitres (1 1/2 teaspoons) oil and the remaining 350 grams (1 1/2 cups) flour. Again, using the paddle attachment, beat the mixture until it is smooth and elastic, five to 10 minutes.
- Lightly flour a work surface and lightly oil a large bowl. Turn out the dough onto the work surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 10 to 12 minutes. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it until it is completely coated in the oil. Cover the bowl with lightly oiled plastic cling wrap and set in a warm place to let the dough rise, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 245°C (475°F). Line a baking sheet with wax paper or foil.
- Lightly flour the work surface again and turn out the dough onto the surface. Divide the dough into four balls. Using a rolling pin, roll each ball into a one-centimetre-thick (1/2-inch-thick), 15-centimetre (six inch) diameter circle.
- Place the dough circles on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly brush each circle with oil and, if desired, sprinkle with herbs. Bake until the pita breads are golden, about eight minutes. Remove the pita breads to wire racks to cool.