8.31.2009

I baked pita pockets.

pita breads
Homemade wheat pitas.

I reckon I never gave it much thought, but before I attempted to bake my own pita pockets, my first assumption was that the pockets were formed by hand. I had no idea that pita pockets were cleverly forged from straight magic. You take a seemingly ordinary dough, roll it out into flat disks, and bake at an incredibly high temperature for a few minutes. When you open the oven, you'll discover that your flat little dough rounds have puffed into what appears to be edible, inflated whoopee cushions. There's a pocket inside. Just like that. Magic.

Alright, so I'm not very accomplished when it comes to yeast-related projects. A bit too science-y for me. Although the magic theory is a lazy, yet fun explanation, I suspect that it is not widely accepted. Basically, microscopic organisms binge on sugar, fart out carbon dioxide, causing the dough to rise as if possessed. Pitas are like the bubbles in a pizza crust (my favorite part), only some genius figured out how to make just the bubbles.

pita pocket
As my model clearly demonstrates, there is a well defined pocket, suitable for stuffing with
hummus or possibly some chicken salad.


This recipe was adapted from Farmgirl Fare. From start to finish, I had pita pockets in about an hour. Here's what you'll need:

1 cup all purpose flour (plus a bit more more rolling out dough)
1-1/2 cup wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 cup warm water

For this recipe, I used my stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. You will also need eight 8" squares of foil.

  • In your mixer bowl, combine all-purpose flour, salt, sugar and yeast.
  • Add warm water and oil, and beat at medium speed for three minutes, using the dough hook mixer attachment. (If you don't have a mixer, it will be OK. Just roll up your sleeves and beat vigorously for 3-4 minutes.)
  • In 1/2 cup increments, add the wheat flour, with mixer set to low speed (or stirring, spoon-style) to incorporate between each turn.
  • After the flour is fully incorporated, you will have a rough mass of shaggy dough. If the dough is moist, add a bit more flour. You want the dough to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  • Preheat Oven to 500 degrees.
  • On a clean, lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 6 minutes. Form the dough into a circle, and cut into 8 pieces, like you would cut a pie. Roll each piece into a ball. Cover balls with a damp towel and allow to rest for about 30 minutes.
  • Flatten each ball into a disk and with a rolling pin, roll out into a thin circle, about 6 inches in diameter. Place each pita on a foil sheet, and set directly on the oven rack.
  • Bake for about 5-7 minutes, until the pitas are slightly browned and puffed up like little balloons.
  • Remove breads from oven and stack them on top of one another. Wrap the stack in foil to keep bread soft and pliable while the tops slowly fall, creating a pocket.
  • Cut breads in half and marvel at the pockety magic of it all. Fill your pockets with good tasting things.

This recipe makes 8 pita breads (16 pockets). They freeze nicely in a Ziploc bag.

Farmgirl Susan has step-by-step photos, along with all sorts of ideas for how to eat your pitas. I stuffed mine with falafel and hummus. Today for lunch, I have one filled with tomato, swiss and alfalfa sprouts.

6 comments:

  1. wow your blog is so pretty! i love the photo of the frog in the pitas! haha :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kurt says I should stalk you here and I do everything he says to do, so here I am.

    1. I learned about pockets firsthand just a few weeks ago. I did the Fontina cheese and arugula pizza from the August Martha Stewart Living mag and you're supposed to put the dough on a charcoal grill, which I did. Cook one size, flip it over, wait a few and then drop the cheese on. Before I put on the cheese I saw some GIANT dough bubbles and popped them. High heat makes bubbles. Who knew?

    2. I took an Arabian friend beach camping for the first time last month. After eating a mackerel salad on bread with a garnish of sand, she said, hey you should use pita pockets instead of bread. It's what her mother would do when they took day trips. Now that I think of it, yeah, they're less messy than bread sandwiches.

    3. I loved Kurt's radish toadstool. Tell him I had a housecoat I loved that had toadstool appliques (just like that one!) on the pocket. Just got rid of it last week as it was falling apart.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Tara, nice to meet you.

    1. How did the pizza turn out? I saw that issue and bokmarked the page, but we only get to use grills at other people's houses. I was thinking of doing it oven style.

    2. I love pita sandwiches, and you are right ... less messy. The only problem is stuffing them without tearing the pocket. But I am now a pro at that.

    3. Isn't Kurt a whiz at radish carving? I will tell him about your housecoat, but he usually reads my comments before I do because he is my number one blog fan. So he already knows. I bet.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Kurt says I should stalk you here and I do everything he says to do, so here I am.

    1. I learned about pockets firsthand just a few weeks ago. I did the Fontina cheese and arugula pizza from the August Martha Stewart Living mag and you're supposed to put the dough on a charcoal grill, which I did. Cook one size, flip it over, wait a few and then drop the cheese on. Before I put on the cheese I saw some GIANT dough bubbles and popped them. High heat makes bubbles. Who knew?

    2. I took an Arabian friend beach camping for the first time last month. After eating a mackerel salad on bread with a garnish of sand, she said, hey you should use pita pockets instead of bread. It's what her mother would do when they took day trips. Now that I think of it, yeah, they're less messy than bread sandwiches.

    3. I loved Kurt's radish toadstool. Tell him I had a housecoat I loved that had toadstool appliques (just like that one!) on the pocket. Just got rid of it last week as it was falling apart.

    ReplyDelete

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