Inspired by Farmgirl’s pita making, I decided we had to try making them too. After reading Farmgirl’s Bernard Clayton recipe, I took a look at all the pita recipes we had in various cookbooks in the kitchen, as well as googling to see the many recipes for pita on the net.
I started in the late morning because I foolishly thought that the weather was cooler than it was. The dough rose much more quickly than I thought it would so I had push it down a couple of times over the afternoon after it doubled. I can’t imagine that this would be a bad thing. It would just mean that the pita is softer (I think).
Then about half an hour before we were going to bake the pitas, I turned the dough out and divided it into 8, shaping the pieces into balls, lightly flouring and covering with plastic. We turned the gas barbecue on and cooked shishkabobs. When they were almost done, I started to roll the dough balls into 8 discs. The shishkabobs came inside the house to rest and we baked four pitas at a time in the barbecue turned to high. The discs went directly on the grill. I was still rolling out the dough when the first four went on. I heard the sounds of triumph from the patio and the report that all four puffed and that I had to see! I brought the other four discs out just as the first four were being transferred to the basket. Even though they had grill marks on them, they looked just like pitas! In fact… They. Looked. Brilliant.
The next four went onto the grill and sure enough, up they puffed – well, the two on the inside puffed up hugely. The outside two puffed only slightly. Apparently the first four had all puffed up completely.
I am so thrilled! 80% complete puffage on the first go. And the pitas were fantastic – soft and pliant and with perfect pockets. Now we’re going to have to learn how to make felafel!
Here is the recipe that I used:
Pita on the Barbecue
(this is based on several recipes – including Farmgirl’s)
Ingredients to make 8 six inch pitas
- ¼ c lukewarm water
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- ½ Tbsp olive oil
- ½ Tbsp honey
- ¾ c room-temperature water
- 1 c whole wheat flour (strong)
- 1½ c unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- Put yeast into a small bowl. Add lukewarm water (test on your wrist to make sure it isn’t too hot) and stir till the mixture is creamy.
- Put oil, honey and the rest of the water into a largish bowl. Add both flours and the yeasted water. Stir with a wooden spoon until a rough dough is formed.
- Cover the bowl and let it sit for about 20 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly flour board. Sprinkle salt overtop. Knead for about 10 minutes til the dough is smooth, silky and springy.
- Put into a clean bowl (there is no need to oil the bowl) that is large enough for the dough to triple. Cover and let rise on the counter (draught free) til the dough has doubled.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Divide it into 8 pieces. Make 8 balls. Lightly flour and cover with a damp tea towel and let sit for about half an hour.
- Using a wooden rolling pin, roll each ball into a flat disc – about 6 inches in diameter and
¾⅜ inches thick. Make sure the finished discs are lightly floured before stacking them.
- Preheat the barbecue to high. Place each disc directly on the grill. Close the lid of the barbecue. Cook for about 2 minutes or so on one side, turn over when they have puffed. (Use blunt-nosed tong so as not to pierce a hole in the pita.) Continue to cook on the other side til they seem done – complete baking takes about 5 minutes. Put the finished pitas into a basket.
Store any uneaten pitas in a plastic bag on the counter. (Make sure they are completely cooled before storing.)
In the winter, when we have to use the oven, I’ll preheat to 500F and then bake the discs directly on our breadstone that is in the middle shelf of the oven. I suspect that they could also be made like chapatis on the stovetop, using a tava.
edit 29 January 18:30 EST
We got a digital camera for Christmas2005 and took some photos of making pita for the post entitled I am a Fool for Fuhl. (Click on the image to see more about making pita in the oven)