I love the smell of yeast and fresh bread baking in the oven. I love watching it puff and rise. What a magical thing to witness. I'd always thought of pit bread as something difficult to make, but this recipe is fairly easy. It involves adding ingredients to a stand mixer and then letting the stand mixer do all the hard work for you. All you really need is some time to kill. This recipe produces the most wonderful soft pockets of goodness.
There are two elements for a nice puff in your pita. Heat and moisture. The oven needs to be hot enough and the environment needs to be moist. Allowing the dough sufficient time to rest in the final stages and giving it a few spritzes before baking will ensure a nice rise. Most pita dough recipes are quite similar, whether they call for AP flour, AP + WW, or WW + bread flour. You can adjust the amount of oil and salt, but the basics should be kept the same. Three cups of flour for 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups of water. The real skill lies in the procedure, kneading, rolling, resting, baking. What is truly desired in the perfect pita is a pillow of air which once baked can be filled with hummus, tzatziki, falafel, and vegetables.
Don't be too upset with your pita if doesn't puff up on the first go. It has taken me a few tries to get a consistent puff in my pita. I remember making my first batch, spending all that time, and then I was so sad that they didn't rise. I think it was a combination of not enough moisture and not allowing them to raise enough before baking, but they still tasted amazing.
As well as the pita recipe, I'm also sharing a recipe for my favorite tzatziki. It is a combination of fresh herbs, cucumber, and lemon juice. Brought together by rich and creamy yogurt. It is best to let the tzatziki sit in the fridge overnight so that all of the flavors can be absorbed, but it is also quite alright to eat it the day of. Tzatziki can be served with fresh fish, as a dressing for salad, a sauce for pasta. It is a versatile and a delicious accompaniment to any meal.
WHOLE WHEAT PITA BREAD RECIPE
makes 8 pita bread
notes: if your pita bread does not puff up during baking, your oven is likely not hot enough, or your dough needs more time to rest after it has been rolled out. You may be rolling the dough for too long. All you need is a few quick rolls. Or, you may need more moisture in the dough. If the first pita does not rise, spritz the dough, re-roll and let it rise for 20 minutes.
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) dry instant yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water 110 - 115ºF
1/2 tsp honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + extra for dusting
1/2 tbsp salt
In the bowl of a stand mixer add the yeast, 1/4 cup warm water, and then honey. Allow the yeast to sit for 3 - 5 minutes until it has proofed. The yeast mixture will create a beige foam layer on top when it has proofed.
Add the olive oil, whole wheat and all-purpose flour to the bowl. With the dough hook attachment, begin to need on low speed. Add the salt, and then slowly start to drizzle in the rest of the water. The dough should be slightly sticky, not too dry. Knead for 10 minutes on medium speed until smooth and elastic.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place it into a large well-seasoned bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and place into a warm spot to allow to rise for 90 minutes.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down. Cut the dough into 8 equal size pieces, a scale works best. Form them into round balls with your hands and place onto a baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise for 20 minutes.
Place a pizza stone into the oven and preheat to 500 - 525ºF, depending on how hot your oven will get. If you do not have a pizza stone, bake the pitas on a baking pan by placing it upside down in the oven. Just before baking spay some water onto the walls of the oven with a spray bottle increasing the moisture.
Sprinkle some flour onto a work surface. Roll out the dough with a few quick rolls, into flat circles 5" diameter and 1/8 - 1/4" thick. Try and keep an even thickness. Let the dough rest on the counter covered with a cloth, for 20 minutes. Spritz the dough with water 2 - 3 minutes before baking. This will help them puff up while baking. Place 1 - 2 pieces of dough at a time onto the pizza stone, if it fits, and watch while it starts to puff up. Once it has fully puffed, flip it with tongues and allow it to brown on the other side. Total cooking time should be between 5 - 6 minutes. If it takes 2 minutes to puff up, then cook it for 2 minutes on the other side. Remove from the oven and continue the process with the other pieces. Allow the oven 5 minutes to reheat between batches. Do touch the pitas once removed from the oven, as they have a lot of hot air trapped inside.
Pita bread is best if served warm. Store in an airtight bag for a couple of days.
makes 2 cups
1 medium regular cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/2 tbsp salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 mint leaves
3 sprigs of dill
1/2 lemon, squeezed
1 3/4 cups Greek yogurt
Peel and remove the seeds from the cucumber. Removing the seeds by sliding a small spoon down the center of the cucumber. Chop the cucumber into small pieces and place into a bowl. Sprinkle the salt on the cucumber pieces and toss. Let sit for 30 minutes to allow the water to seep out. Drain the excess water from the bowl and then pat dry with a paper towel.
On a cutting board, place the pureed garlic, mint, dill, and cucumber. With a sharp knife continue to chop the ingredients until well blended. Add to the Greek yogurt and squeeze in the lemon juice. Stir.
Place into the fridge to let settle for a couple of hours. The tzatziki is at its best when it has been left overnight, allowing the flavors to be absorbed into the yogurt. Keep refrigerated for up to a week.