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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Homemade Sourdough Pita Bread

We have a local Mediterranean restaurant, where they serve fresh pita bread right off the oven to its patrons. Food is good and ok like any other Mediterranean restaurant but having a fresh Pita right out of oven is a treat. As you know from my previous post that I love Sourdough bread, so I thought why not make sourdough pita bread.  This is how it all started, first I started perfecting making the sourdough starter. Now that I have good sourdough starter, I started experimenting with making Sourdough pita bread with white wheat flour and with all purpose flour.
I must say not so healthy as it sounds, I preferred the pita bread with All purpose flour better.  If you don't like the sourdough bread you can make the plain Pita bread following the same recipe, just omit the sour dough starter. You may have to add little more water to knead the dough, that's it. 

You will need following kitchen items :
Mixing bowl
Rolling pin
Cast Iron skillet or a baking stone (if your bake the pita in oven, I tried it bothways baking it at 450 * F in oven one heated stone for 3 min, can bake 2-3 pita at same time, but I had better results on skillet. This could be due to fluctuating temp when opening and closing the oven to place the pita on stove and removing cooked pita)
You can decide how you want to do it, but here I have the recipe using skillets.

You will need following ingredients:
3/4 cup of Sourdough starter (recipe on this blog)
1 cup of warm water (not hot or boiling)
3 cups of all purpose flour
2 teaspoon of instant yeast (one packet)
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 and half teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoon of olive oil. (I like my pita to be soft, if you like it little chewy, you may cut down the oil to 1 tablespoon or totally omit it)

To make dough, mix sugar in some of the warm water and add yeast. Mix well, let it till it is dissolved.
Take 3 cups of flour in a bowl, add salt and mix well, add oil and sour dough starter and mix until a shaggy dough is form.
Then add rest of the warm water and knead the dough for 5 min. You may sprinkle little flour on the kneading surface so the dough does not stick  to your fingers. 
Transfer the dough in the bowl and cover brush a little oil. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for 2 hours or until it doubles in size.

When ready to make the pita, deflate it and transfer it on rolling surface with oil and gently roll it. Divide the dough in to 10-12 balls.

Place the ball on a rolling surface with some flour on the rolling surface and around the ball.
Flatten each round and roll it with rolling pin to 8-10" circle and to desired thickness (not very thin).

Roll each ball and place the rolled pita on a nonstick surface with some flour sprinkle on it, I used Silicone baking sheets.
Let them sit for 5-10 min, you can heat the iron skillet on stove in the mean time on medium to high heat.
Drizzle little oil on heated skillet and immediately wipe it off with paper towel.

Once you have rolled all the balls and skillet is hot you can cook the pita one by one on skillet in following manner:

Place the rolled pita on heated skillet cook for 30 seconds until you see bubbles forming.
Flip the pita and cook the other side for 1-2 min until light toasted spot appear on other side.  Flip it again and either cook it on the skillet by gently pressing with towel until pita bread puffs or cook it on open gas flame. You will have hold it gently with a tong and keep lifting and rotating it so it does not burn.  .
Either on skillet or on open flame, if you see air skipping from the puffed pita, you can gently and carefully close the hole with clean dish towel on skillet,  or with  tong on open flame for pita to puff fully.
You need practice with this and I must say my Indian cooking skills came in handy in doing this, as I must have made thousands of chapatis in my life time.

Don' t get disappointed, if all of your pita do not puff . You can use the puffed pita for pocket sandwiches and rest you can use for sandwich rolls or for dips. Problem of pita bread not puffing has to do with the temp of oven or skillet. It may not be hot enough.
Pitas are best when eaten fresh. Keep the cooked pitas covered with a clean towel while cooking other pitas.

Recipe and Photographs by Surekha

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