Tuesday, March 29, 2011
There are no real Pittas* in Europe.
They're mostly these paper-thin dry things that are sold in a vacuum package, and are absolutely tasteless and pointless. Pitta is supposed to be soft and fresh, tear-able and not crumbling and falling apart, or more scarily- not fall apart or tear even if you try to break it, seriously, what do they do to those poor things here?
All this led me to mastering the art of pita-making, which for me always looked like the ultimate challenge of baking. There is something magical about a pitta- the hole, or pocket, what makes it happen? I think my last roommate came up with the answer, but it's not important, no matter what physical explanation it has, it's still magic.
A lot of people don't believe you can make pittas in a regular oven, one that gets to 250-300c max (pittas are baked at 450c), but apparently that's not true. So just have faith and follow this recipe, and I promise you have great homemade pittas and most of all you'll be proud of yourselves, I know I am- Making pittas is really like the final frontier, yeah, it's not that complicated, but after doing so you feel like you've done the unimaginable, making something so basic all by yourself, for me it's as if I start making my own olive oil, or wine. I'm totally exaggerating, but I just woke up, so don't be too judgmental.
(for 8-10 pittas)
- 3 cups white flour.
- 1 tbs dry yeast.
- 1 tbs sugar.
- 1 cup slightly warm water.
- 1 tbs salt.
- Mix the water and yeast in a small bowl, and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
- Pour the flour to a large bowl through a fine mesh (sieve?) this mixes it with the air making it lighter and eventually increases the volume of your dough.
- Mix flour and sugar, make a hole in the middle, pour in the yeast and water mixture.
- Mix slightly, add the salt, and continue kneading for 10 minutes.
- Cover your fingertips with a bit of olive oil, and 'pet' the surface of the dough with it, so it won't dry up.
- Cover the bowl with a towel, and let rise for about an hour and a half, until it doubled its size.
- Pinch out small balls of dough using your thumb and index finger, flatten them with a roller on a floured surface. Work on one at a time and keep the bowl covered - this dough is very dry and you don't want it to get dryer. Its' also important that you use a roller, and do not stretch the dough with your fingers; This is not pizza - it will not be hollow if you press it with your fingers.
- Cover the flattened pittas with a damp towel.
- Let rise again, about 20 minutes.
*I use the word 'Pitta' as I would in Hebrew; 'A pitta' or plural: Pittas (or pittot). As Mishkin mentioned, the proper term would be 'Hubez Arrabi' - Arabic bread.
Posted by Uri Triest at 5:08 AM