Adapted from The Bread Bible, though this recipe is VERY dumbed down. I love making my own bread, it just has this fresh flavor and smell that can’t be beat by anything store-bought. However, I am not an expert cook and oftentimes I don’t have any of the fancy gadgets that are always called for in other recipes (ummm, dough hook, please I don’t even have a kitchen aid in this tiny apartment). But pita bread has been made for centuries, long before the invention of the dough hook. Contrary to popular belief, these gadgets are NOT necessary to make delicious food, especially bread! I also hope that with this recipe, I have pared down the time commitment as much as possible. In today’s world, very few of us are in the kitchen all day working on dinner for that evening, and the notion that bread needs all day to rise keeps many people from attempting to make it on their own.
Adapted from The Bread Bible
3 cups white flour, plus extra for kneading
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast (can be bought in little packets at the grocery store, but I usually just buy a jar and keep it in the refrigerator)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. With a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until all the flour is moistened. Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together. The dough can be very sticky, so as always, keep the bag of flour on hand to keep from too much of a mess.
Sprinkle a little of the reserved flour onto the counter and scrape the dough onto it (to be honest, I usually just continue kneading in the bowl to avoid the extra mess). Knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding as little of the reserved flour as possible. It is normal for the dough to continue getting stickier the more you agitate it, so it will need to rest in the bowl. I usually coat it in a little bit of olive oil at this point, to help with the stickiness. Let it rest for 15-30 minutes.
Knead the dough for another 5 to 10 minutes or until it is soft and smooth and just a little sticky to the touch. Add a little flour or water if necessary.
Now, the dough must rise. Because you have already coated the dough in olive oil, you need to do nothing else at this point except cover the container with a lid, plastic wrap, or (my preferred method) a dish towel soaked in hot water. Let the dough rise for at least an hour and a half (to double in bulk). Though, at this point you can refrigerate or bag and freeze the dough for later use.
Cut the dough into 8 or 12 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and then flatten it into a disk, if you need more flour for your hands here, try to use as little as possible.
Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat (cast-iron is amazing here, if you have a well-seasoned pan). Lightly grease the surface and cook the pitas one at a time (I use olive oil and sometimes salted butter when I want them to have a little more flavor on their own). Cook for about 20 seconds, then turn the dough and continue cooking for 1 minute or until big bubbles appear. If the dough begins to brown, lower the heat. The entire cooking process for each pita should be about 3 minutes.