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Pita Bread

What you need: 

1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoon yeast
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar

What you do: 

The first thing to understand about pita is why a flat piece of bread gets a pocket in the middle of it when you bake it. The answer: when you place moist dough in a very hot oven, the moisture in the dough turns to gas, pushes the dough out, and forms a pocket.
I should admit: I cheated and used a bread machine for the first part of the kneading process. But, since I got a bread machine, I’ve been cheating away the first 10 minutes of bread-making anyway..
So, the first step in making pita bread is having a dough that is not too dry. In past biscuit-making adventures, I’ve encountered a lot of dough that seemed very sticky. My initial response to sticky dough was to simply add more flour - not so! If you can’t work with the wet dough, then just get your hands wet as well. The dough won’t stick to your hands, and as long as you put enough flour on the surface you plan to set the dough on, you’ll be just fine. (By the way, this “moist dough” theory seems to apply to a lot of artisan breads as well).
This recipe makes 8-12 pockets, depending on how big you want them to be. As soon as you mix the dough together, cut it into 8-12 pieces (a pizza cutter works well), and then roll each pice into a round ball. Put all the balls together (not touching) on a well-floured surface, and cover with a damp dish towel. Let them sit for 30 minutes.
Roll out the balls into discs - they should be about the width of a yard stick. Place the discs onto baking sheets.
The next step: make sure that you have a HOT OVEN. The oven needs to be pre-heated to 500ºF, and every time you take cooked pita out of the oven, let the oven heat up for another minute or two before putting another sheet in. Also, I have found that it’s best to cook pita on the bottom-most rack and only cook ONE SHEET of pita breads at a time.
If the oven is hot enough and your dough is moist enough, your pitas should puff up in the oven. Don’t let them cook too long - 5-7 minutes is long enough. If they start to turn brown on the top, take them out! Over-cooked pitas will crack and fall apart.
Let the pitas cool until you can touch them, and then put them into a paper bag, sealed tightly, adding each batch of pitas as you cook them. Let the pitas cool off in the bag - they will deflate, forming a flat bread with a pocket inside. Stuff, eat, yum.
Instructions with pictures online at http://weblog.jessigurr.com/?p=48

Preparation Time: 
Cooking Time: 
Servings: 
12
Recipe Category: 

SO HOW'D IT GO?

Can Spelt flour be used?  The author does not specify at all what kind of flour is used. 

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Very tasty.  I'd always wanted to try making pitas but thought it was probably complicated.  This really wasn't bad, and they came out great.  Thanks!

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Thanks so much for the in-depth explanation. I have made these several times (have a batch going right now) and they are delicious. I have even used part wheat flour a few times (2 cups reg, 1 3/4 wheat). So great! Thanks again.

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Thanks for this very informative recipe - the info on dough texture is really helpful. I'm gonna try making this sometime soon. :) However, I find this instruction confusing: "Roll out the balls into discs - they should be about the width of a yard stick."

Do you mean the thickness of the discs? If so, how wide is a yardstick, please? because I've never seen one. ??? Is that a standard measurement?

a yardstick is 3 feet long so i can't imagine the author means to have the dough rolled out that large, i'm guessing they just mean to have you roll it out thin... maybe to the thickness of the yardstick itself?  which would be around 1/8 to 1/4 inch.  or maybe this is a recipe for pita bread suited for giants..

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this is a phenomenal recipe.  i have a baker in the house who makes these all the time. 

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Thanks for this very informative recipe - the info on dough texture is really helpful. I'm gonna try making this sometime soon. :) However, I find this instruction confusing: "Roll out the balls into discs - they should be about the width of a yard stick."

Do you mean the thickness of the discs? If so, how wide is a yardstick, please? because I've never seen one. ??? Is that a standard measurement?

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Aea, try http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=12707.0 , they turned out great for me.

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This turned out great. Delicious and puffed up nicely. I managed to impress everyone with my home made pita breads. However when I tried doing this with whole wheat flour it failed miserably. Any ideas?

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