Pita Bread. Bake The Fun And Easy Way!
The Side of All Greek Appetisers and Mains
There is no more straightforward recipe to bake nor yummier than pita bread! With origins going back to the first farming settlements in the Middle East, pita can be considered a prehistoric type of bread.
Our ancestors used to bake this flatbread directly on the fire. Later, the stone ovens came in use. Today, we bake in the oven or fry it in little oil, depending on how much time and effort we want to put in preparation.
In time, the method has changed, as has the name. Apparently, as its use spread through the Mediterranean, in Italy, it became pizza, for instance.
I always associate pita with Greek meals, perhaps because I always had it on the table with any meal I ordered in my travels to the fabulous country of ancient mythology. I had it with moussaka and hummus, with Greek salad and tzatziki, baked peppers and you name it! It goes with everything, from appetisers to mains.
At our house, we bake pitta bread nearly every other weekend. I get a hand from a very enthusiastic little helper who is the main beneficiary of the product as well, in the form of school box sandwiches. Sliced bread is so out of fashion; it does not even have pockets! Good enough rationale to get us boxing the dough!
The truth is, pita is so yummy, easy and fun to make and versatile, it would be a shame not to bake it at home. Besides, it is much better than the packed pittas you can buy in supermarkets since you know exactly what you used to make it.
Before you get started, a few facts about flour:
- Humans have milled it for tens of thousands of years.
- The oldest type of wheat is einkorn (“single grain” in German)
- It is NOT white; the flour goes through a bleaching process (with stuff such as chlorine gas or benzoyl peroxide) to become white.
- It is high in carbohydrates (approximately 76g/100g flour), therefore a no-no for Keto diets.
- The main difference between refined and unrefined grains is that the more flour is processed, the easier it is metabolised into glucose in your body, meaning it transforms in sugar (blood sugar).
- Hemp flour is the lowest in carbs (1.4g/100g) and highest in fibres (47g/100g), pumpkin seed flour is the highest in proteins (54g/100g) but also the most caloric flour (427kcal/100g).
- Almond or coconut flour are great healthy substitutes in baking. Still, they are highly absorbent, so you will need to adjust the quantities of liquid ingredients and also the raising agents you use in the recipe.
What you need for pita bread:
500g flour (I mix organic spelt and white in equal quantities)
300ml tepid water
2 tablespoons of dried yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil
A pinch of salt
I like to keep things healthy, so I do not add any sugar at all, even though some prefer it.
Finely chopped rosemary
One tablespoon of chia seeds
Honestly, I stopped following the quantities long ago. With time and practice, you will get used to knowing what consistency you need for the dough and will add the ingredients as you need them.
How you make pita bread:
First, prepare a pre-dough – similar to biga for Italian ciabatta. Mix the yeast with some white flour, add the tepid water and let it rest for about half an hour until it raises.
Next, add the rest of the flour, salt and oil (the optionals, as well) and mix well. The dough will be sticky, but resist adding too much flour to manage it easier. It is better to oil your hands instead and keep the dough soft and elastic. Let it raise again for another half an hour to an hour.
Preheat the oven at 190-200°C.
Place baking paper on the tray(s).
Spread some white flour onto the working top and divide the dough into small spheres. Usually, I get about twelve pitas using the quantities above. This can and will vary, depending on how big or small you want them.
Using a floured roller pin, make round (-ish) forms of each ball of dough, about half a centimetre high. They will raise at high temperature and will obtain a pocket that makes pitas perfect for filling with whatever you desire and make sandwiches.
Place the forms distanced on the tray and bake for about ten minutes. Pitas bake quickly, and at high temperature; keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.
If the colour changes slightly (it does not have to become dark brown!), it means they should be ready. You can break one to check, but have mercy on your fingers and don’t injure yourself!
Let the pitas cool before use.
Our first tray always disappears miraculously the minute the pitas cool a little, even if the intention is to freeze them for future use.
By the way, you can freeze them for two-three months. You are lucky if they will last this long; it does not happen at our house!
I hope you enjoyed reading; now it’s time to start baking!
Please share this post as well. If you have tips to improve anything or would just like to drop a line, you are welcome to comment below. I would especially like to see tryouts of your pitas!
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