Fresh Pita Bread

Margi Lenga Kahn

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c. warm water, approximately 110 degrees
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 packages of active dry yeast, or 5 tsp.
  • Approximately 5 ¼ – 6 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ c. warm milk about 110 degrees (or water, for non-dairy)
  • Olive oil for oiling bowl 
  • Olive oil for brushing pitas (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. za’atar for sprinkling (optional)

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine water and sugar.  Sprinkle yeast over mixture and stir to combine.  Set aside for 5-10 minutes until mixture begins foaming.

Place 5 ¼ c. flour and all of the salt in bowl of food processor.  Pulse to combine.  With machine on, add yeast mixture followed by warm milk; process until mixture forms a ball. (This can also be done in a stand mixer or by hand in a bowl.) 

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Transfer dough to a lightly floured counter and knead for 2-3 minutes, or until dough is smooth and soft. (If dough is too sticky, dust with additional flour and knead some more.) 

Lightly oil a large bowl and add dough.  Turn dough to coat all sides with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature for 1 hour. (Alternatively, dough can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Let dough come to room temperature before proceeding with recipe.)

While dough rises, arrange rack in lower third of oven with a pizza stone, if desired. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter.  Cut dough in half and cut each half into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball by pulling edges to the bottom under the dough, and pinching those loose ends together. Pull the underside of the ball along a lightly floured counter until the top is smooth. Lightly dust balls with flour, cover with a clean towel, and let rest for 5 minutes.  

Cut 4-5 sheets of parchment paper, about 10×12-inches each. On a lightly floured counter, dust each ball lightly with flour and roll out or flatten each ball with heal of your hand into a 6-inch round. Place 3-4 of the rounds on a piece of parchment. Gently lay a sheet of plastic wrap over each set of rounds. Let rest at room temperature again for 5-10 minutes.

Prepare a large, cloth napkin or kitchen towel-lined basket, with two or three additional cloth napkins or kitchen towels for covering. 

Using a pizza peel, slide 1 sheet of dough rounds onto the preheated stone (if using), or carefully slide sheet of dough rounds onto the backside of a large baking sheet; place baking sheet onto oven rack.  Bake for about 4 minutes, or until pitas are puffy and dry-sounding when tapped. Do not let them brown! (Don’t panic if some of your pitas don’t fully puff up. They will still pull apart after they have been wrapped in cloth towels or napkins to soften.)

Immediately transfer pitas to lined basket and cover completely with other towels. You want to trap the heat as they cool, which will keep them soft. (If you would like, you could brush some or all of the pitas with olive oil and season with za’atar; then wrap as above in towels.) Pitas will be ready to serve after 5 minutes.

Makes 16 pita rounds.