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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Pita Bread

Last of all on my Greek Lunch was pita bread, that helped bind the lunch together. Being a Pakistani family, we need some form of flatbread or roti with our food. Any menu lacking flatbread or roti is not fulfilling enough. Traditional roti made on a tawa does not pair well with Greek menu, hence the pita bread.


In the recent years, Pita bread has become quite a fad. When I was working as a QAE at a software house, we learnt of a place that made and delivered gyros. Gyros are typically meat sandwiches made with pita bread. That was my first proper introduction to this simple yet delicious bread. Then shawarmas propped up al over the place, again made with a version of pita bread. These days, along with sandwiches and burgers, there are wraps found at fast food outlets, which mostly are made with pita bread.


Pita bread isn't hard to make. It has very basic dough, something like a pizza dough. To make flavored pita breads, you can add oregano, onion seeds, green coriander or other herbs/ spices. Pita bread can be frozen after the initial baking, and re baked to heat and cook. It can be cooked over stove top or baked in the oven. It can be eaten like a roti, used as a wrap, or cut and baked crisp to serve with Hummus.

Recipe

Ingredients

3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/3 - 1 1/2 cup water
2 tbsp olive oil

Method

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add olive oil and mix it in flour. Add water in small additions and mix in flour. As soon as the dough comes together, start kneading, adding water only if necessary. Knead the dough until elastic and supple.

Coat a large bowl with olive oil. Shape the dough into a ball and place in the oil coated bowl. Turn the dough around to coat with olive oil. Set aside in a warm place to rise, around 1 hour or until doubled. Punch down the dough. Make 8 - 12 balls and cover with a damp cloth. Rest for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C/ 425 F. Roll out the balls into 1/8" or 1/4" thick. Rest covered for 10 minutes. Bake for 3 - 5 minutes in the oven. Bake longer if you want browned pita bread. Spray a little water on pita bread before baking to result in a very soft pita bread.

This can be done on stove top as well. Place a pita bread disc on well heated and light greased girdle. Turn over the pita bread as soon as it changes color slightly. Cook for a couple of minutes, pressing the pita bread with a kitchen towel. Turn over and repeat the same process for a couple of minutes.

Store pita bread covered with a tea towel to keep warm and soft, as pita bread tends to dry out quickly when exposed to air. Cooked pita bread can be frozen as well. Happy baking!!!

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