Late Friday afternoon I realized in a panic that I did not have any Challah remaining in my magical freezer. I did not want to run to the kosher bakery at the last moment 2 minutes before they close, they close early on Friday, and there was not time to make Challah. What to do? I decided to make Pita bread. Pita, those wonderfully doughy, puffy, pillows of bread that form a natural pocket while baking are so irresistible when hot and fresh. They would go perfectly with my Shabbat dinner menu.
The menu an eclectic mix of this and that was in fact crying out for pita. Hummus, Tabouleh Salad, Rose Colored Potato Salad, Tomato Beet Salad, Roast Cauliflower, Grilled Artichokes, Grilled Chicken Thighs, and Stuffed Tomatoes.
Quickly I looked on line and found a site with wonderful baking recipes The Fresh Loaf. I used the simple Pita recipe from the site, except, I doubled it since the recipe was sufficient for only eight pita and wouldn’t be enough in my house.
This is a summary of the recipe (I doubled this amount)
3 cups flour
1 and ½ teaspoon salt
1 packet of Rapid Rise Instant Yeast (2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon honey
1 and ¼ to 1 and ½ cups room temperature water
2 tablespoons olive oil
I placed flour and salt in the work bowl of my food processor and gave one pulse to combine. Empty the contents of the yeast packet into a glass measuring pitcher, and add honey, add 1 and ¼ cup of water and finally add the oil. Wait for the yeast to start to bubble and foam and then, add the liquid with yeast to the work bowl of the food processor. Process for 30 seconds. Open the lid of the work bowl and see how the dough feels, if it is too dry, then add the last quarter cup of water. Process for 30 more seconds in any case. The dough should be soft. You can make this dough and knead it by hand if you wish. Next, grease another medium bowl with oil spray or pour in a bit of oil and swish around. Remove the ball of dough from the processor and place it in the prepared bowl. Cover it with a tea towel and place in a draft free corner to rise until doubled in bulk, around 90 minutes.
When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down and divide it into individual pieces. I formed a log and cut it into pieces, which I then rolled into balls. I set the balls on a wooden cutting board. Cover the balls with a damp tea towel and let them rest for 20 minutes. While the dough is resting, pre heat the oven to 400°F and place a pizza stone inside the oven to get very hot. One recipe yields 8 pita, double the recipe for 16 pita.
Roll out the pita on a floured board to about ¼ to 1/8 inch thick. Open the oven door and place the pita on the hot pizza stone surface. My stone held 4 pita at a time. I baked mine for from 5 to 6 minutes and wow they came out great.