Tuesday, March 15, 2011
You know you are food obsessed when after reading the front page of the Sunday paper the next thing you turn to is the weekend feature which contains two or three recipes. Most of them are meat related so it's a pleasant surprise when you do stumble upon something without. It seemed apt after my failure with turkish bread the day before that in Sunday's paper there would be a recipe for pita bread. Today was the day to make amends!
The only ingredient lacking from my pantry was semolina so I decided to use some polenta and hope for the best as the quantity required wasn't huge. The dough was fairly straight forward to put together and it was nice change to fry the bread (rather than bake) and watch it puff up in a matter of minutes. This is a technique I have previously used in making Indian flat breads.
The pita bread turned out to be really nice and was excellent to use with the little bit of zaalouk that didn't make it to the BBQ. The batch I made was half of the recipe below which made 5 decent sized pitas. I will definitely be using this recipe again!
Edited to add: I have made this recipe heaps of times now and always use semolina which gives the bread a better texture. You can also substitute half of the plain white flour for wholemeal if you prefer.
Pita bread (Adapted from Karen Martini's recipe - Sunday Age 13/3/2011)
7g dried yeast
375ml warm water
2 teaspoons salt
500g plain unbleached flour
100g fine semolina (I used polenta)
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra
Place the yeast and sugar into a small bowl and pour in 125ml of warm water. Stir briefly to dissolve the sugar then set aside for 5 minutes. Combine the plain flour, semolina and salt together in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the yeast mixture, remaining 250ml of warm water and a tablespoon of olive oil. Work the flour into the wet ingredients with your hands until combined, then tip out the contents onto a clean bench dusted with flour. Knead the dough for 10 minutes until it becomes smooth and springy, then return the dough to the bowl and cover with a tea towel. Allow the dough to rise for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.
Punch down the dough and knead on a floured bench for a minute. Divide the dough into 10-12 pieces and roll each one into a ball. Roll each ball into a thin circular shape using a rolling pin, dusting with flour as necessary to prevent them sticking to the bench. Prick the dough with a fork in several places. I usually have about 3 pitas rolled out before I begin frying and roll the rest as I'm cooking.
Fry the pitas in a preheated non-stick pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes on each side until lightly browned. Stack the cooked pitas on a clean tea towel, placing a tea towel between every second one to absorb the moisture.