Although the precise and detailed science of breadmaking has never been adopted in this household, there was a time that I baked bread every day. We had everything from brioche to focaccia. Honestly, any yeasted dough that I could mix in the morning so that it could prove during the day, and be cooked in the evening as the rest of the meal was prepared was fare game in The Kitchen in the mid to late ’90s.
I loved cooking Pita Bread and watching it puff up in the oven as it met the heat. It was a magic that I never got used to.
The recipe originally came from the much loved in those times Moosewood Cookbook, but it has been altered over the years.
This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006. It is cross posted on our sister site, A Life Time of Cooking. It appears here as part of the Retro Recipes series of recipes which documents our vegetarian recipes from that first blog.
We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.
This was one of my first experiments when (finally) I obtained a dough hook. It is amazing how a dough hook makes bread making so much easier. Pita bread is one of those miracles of cooking. If you watch it when it is cooking, it puffs up (sort of like a blow fish) and it is this that makes the two layers of the bread. The puffing is caused by the hot oven so don’t compromise on the heat.
In making bread, I use water about 40 degrees C. At this heat, the water feels quite warm when a finger is inserted in it, but not too warm that I cannot keep my finger in the water. This is my rule of thumb :-).
|1.5 tspn dry yeast||1 cup tepid water.||1 Tblspn honey|
|1.5 tspn salt||3 cups bread flour (use half whole wheat flour if desired)||0.5 Tblspn Olive Oil|
Dissolve the yeast in the water with 1 tspn of the honey and let stand for fifteen minutes until frothy. Add the remaining honey, flour and salt and mix until well combined. Add the oil then knead with dough hooks for 8 minutes, or longer by hand – the dough needs to be sticky at the start, and well kneaded.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and rise in a warm, humid spot for 1 – 1.5 hours. For example, run some centimetres of hot water into the sink, place the bowl on an upturned plate in the sink, and cover bowl and sink with a towel. This is one way that works for me, especially in the middle of winter.
Punch the dough down and knead lightly. Divide into six equal parts. Form each into a smooth round ball and let stand 15 minutes.
Set the oven to 250 C. Roll each ball to about 0.5cm thickness. Place on an ungreased tray and bake in the hottest position in the oven for 3 or 4 minutes or until they are puffed up. As soon as they puff, they are done. You may need to cook in two batches.
Wrap the freshly baked breads in a towel for 15 minutes. This maintains their pockets as they deflate and prevents them crisping into crackers.
recipe notes and alternatives
Using a pizza stone in the oven works very well.