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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Wonky Pita

             This is the slightly oblong pita bread fresh from the oven prior to cooling and deflating.


Some of you might bake bread all the time and think nothing of pounding out round after round of pita.  Not me! I have never tried baking it before in my life because, well, because I can find it in every single grocery store I frequent sitting happily on the shelf waiting for me to buy it. That is, until I started this 50 buck a week food challenge and found there is no room for pita in the budget. (Especially since TheHub bought a 10 dollar slab of cooked ribs for Labor Day!)

I had made hummus and dip for Saturday's ballgames but had nothing but cucumbers and carrots for dipping.  I found a recipe online for pita and thought, why not? Oh yeah I had run out of flour, so I had to add 5 pounds to my budget.  I guess I could have found pita for the same price but I still would have been out of flour and would have to buy more anyway so I bit the bullet, bought the blooming four and baked away.

The bread recipe itself is insanely simple:

1 cup warm water (not hot)
2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt

Pour the warm water (about 105 degrees) into a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top of it. You are not supposed to stir it, but I can never keep from giving it a quick swirl with a fork.  Let it sit until it is all dissolved and bubbles just a tad at the water's surface (5ish minutes). Meanwhile mix 2 1/2 cups flour with the salt and stir to mix well. Add  the yeast to the flour and stir well until you the flour is all incorporated and you have a very soft dough.  Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and begin the kneading process, using the heel of your hand to stretch the dough, folding it in half then stretching it again with the heel.  Add flour as needed to the work surface to keep the dough from sticking. (Use no more than the additional 1/2 cup) and repeat the kneading process until you have a very smooth dough that easily holds its shape.
Oil the surface of a large bowl and put the dough into it and rub it over the inside of the bowl to coat the entire surface of the bread dough.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until the dough is double in bulk (1 1/2-2 hours).

Preheat the oven to 450 degree with a baking sheet or stone in the oven to get up to temperature.
Very gently deflate the dough on a floured work surface.  Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll into balls.  Using a rolling pin, roll as many balls into 8 inch circles as your pan or stone will hold.  I had only 1 small baking sheet I was willing to sacrifice if the heat warped it (it didn't) so I could only bake 2 at a time. Keep the rolling surface lightly floured so the pitas will not stick.  Pick up and turn the pitas as needed to keep them round (I didn't, hence wonky pitas).  Slap those rounds onto the hot baking sheet, quickly close the oven door and let them bake about 3-3 1/2 minutes.  Have the next ones ready to bake as soon as you open the oven door to get your cooked pitas out. I never took the try out of the oven.  I used tong to grab the cooked pitas and slapped the uncooked ones on the baking sheet as fluidly as I could.   Cover the cooked pitas with a clean cloth until they are al finished baking. I thought I lost too much heat, so after the second round I left the pan in the hot oven for about 5 minutes to build up the oven heat again. Continue cooking the rest of the bread.  After mine cooled and deflated I stuck them in a plastic zip bag and we ate them with the dip and hummus the next day.  I am not sure how long they would keep but I am guessing 2 days at the most without being frozen.

When I make these again I will pay a bit more attention to keeping them round.  We were going to be tearing them into pieces for dipping so it was not crucial but if I were baking them for pocket sandwiches a lot more care would have been needed to make sure they were round. And yes I will make these again, even when I am no longer watching every single penny.  It was so easy to do, and next time I will not be using limited kitchen equipment and can use my mixer dough hook for kneading and a real rolling pin instead of a floured drinking glass. (I forgot and used the rolling pin for the first 2, then remembered I was supposed to use simple equipment and changed over to the drinking glass.  The rolling pin is so much easier!)

11 comments:

  1. So a rolling pin is not simple equipment? You can get them pretty easily at thrift stores. With that being said, I've used many drinking glasses to roll out things before because they were handy.

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    1. Not so much simple as limited. I have rolled cookies with classes just because the glass is able to go in the dishwasher and the rolling pin isn't. But that would fall under the lazy catagory.

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  2. And doesn't the kitchen smell wonderful when bread is baking...
    After my father retired he got the bread making bug, and my lucky mother got up to fresh baked bread every day.

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    1. Yes it does!. I would love to wake up to the smell of fresh bread!

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  3. I think a rolling pin falls soundly in the realm of simple. You keep looking forward or commenting on the day you can get away from your frugal life, a life where you cannot be bothered by watching every penny. I am happy for you on those counts. But, imagine that you had to spend the future worrying and planning. That is the real life of some of the people on food stamps.

    I decided to make pita as I read your post. Then, I remembered they are made of wheat.

    The decision to buy flour for now and future was smart. Many on food stamps would have bought the pita bread. But, they may be so deep in childcare, work, worry that it seems prudent just to buy pita.

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    1. I understand it is some people's life everyday. I was one of them at one time, but we were never on food assistance. I am making no judgements about those who are, or who struggle with finances. For quite a few years I have had a budget but not this severe, and it is difficult. Normally we decide what sounds good, I buy it and make it for dinner. This takes a whole lot of the "sounds good" out of the equation and is replaced by "what is affordable". It is neither good nor bad, but it is not the way we tend to eat anymore.

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  4. I love homemade pita! I was really surprised the first time I made it how easy it actually is to make. Which is more or less my experience with every bread I make; at some point I expect this will sink in.

    I don't think I rolled mine out at all, though. Just rolled them into balls and then flattened with my hands. It worked pretty well as I recall. Your post has me somewhat eager to make them again!

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    1. I might pat them next time just to try it. I also might cook them in an iron skillet on the stovetop just to try that also.

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  5. I used to make pitas that we used as communion bread at our church. They were wonderful. We tried to use homemade bread at church once a month and used the tasteless wafers the rest of the time. I know it's the faith that counts, but real bread brought great life to communion.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I agree about real bread and communion! Our church has mostly gotten away from the wafers

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  6. Never made pita and this sounds like the perfect recipe to try today!! Wonder if I will do it :) I have everything on hand so I better get into the kitchen and clean up so that I can make a mess again. Thanks for the great recipe. I am sure that the first time is supposed to be the learning experience so totally fine to not have round pitas....shows they are homemade!! Love them baked with olive oil, rosemary and salt. YUM!!!

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