Pita Bread – Fresh from the Oven June Challenge

31 May

It is an honour to host Fresh From the Oven’s June Challenge. I would like to thank Michelle Rice of UtterlyScrummy and Claire of Purely Food for giving me this opportunity. It has been wonderful attempting challenges with yeast and each month I wait eagerly to know what the month’s challenge is going to be. For the month of June I would love everybody to participate together in make these easy-peasy pita bread. The details for how to participate are here and link to
http://purelyfood.wordpress.com/fresh-from-the-oven/ and the round-up for this ( for the month of June) will be done by Purely Food.

I have been living an expat’s life in Bahrain for the past 2 years and the food of this region fascinates me more than others. The addictive tastes, the rustic textures, the haunting flavours, the clever methods of cooking, the influences that this part of the world takes from other cultures shines through from the Arabic Cuisine. In my time here, I have enjoyed cooking these Arabic dishes as much as I have enjoyed eating a hearty meal outside in restaurants. The food of this region inspired me to do a full-blown article on the Food of Bahrain called Bahrain: A culinary Oasis which got published in a compendium of sort called, My Beautiful Bahrain.

An excerpt from the book would tell you how fascinated I am with the food of this region. I went food-hunting literally, to write this article and the this insightful journey is the one I will cherish for a long time.

“About the famed bread making- Khuboos shops of Bahrain:  It is fascinating to watch a queue build up by nightfall outside these traditional bakeries. A burning clay hearth and experienced pairs of hands slap the dough to make khuboos, the most popular flatbread that the country eats every single day of its life. This hearty bread forms the base for almost all the food that is served at homes and in restaurants. A freshly baked Khuboos emanates an aroma that tantalizes the senses with its simplicity and flavor. Khuboos comes in a lot of sizes, shapes and flavors; sesame, melted cheese, honey brushed, to name a few.  My personal favorite is the plain khuboos that I love devouring bit by bit with some vegetables and Hummus (chickpea dip).

Below are some photos of how Arabic bread is made traditionally in these Khuboos -houses.

Charmed by this, I have replicated the Arabic bread baking process in my oven very, many times. Pita “Pocket”  bread, in this part of the world is also called Lebanese bread though there is no evidence proving that this bread originated from Lebanon. This bread is popular all over the Arab world and the Mediterranean region.

 To make these, I usually use a combination of wholemeal flour and All purpose flour but for the challenge, I used All purpose flour entirely. You are free to experiment with different types of healthier flours to make your pita. You can follow my lead  with step by step pictures for your better understanding:

Ingredients:

3 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 Tablespoon sugar or honey

1 packet yeast (or, if from bulk, 2 teaspoons yeast)

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water, room temperature

2 tablespoons olive oil

(I apologize for missing out the proportions of ingredients as I have made this so many times and remember it by heart. It just made me focus more on the method of preparation than the quantities. )

Mix the yeast in with the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the olive oil and 1 1/4 cup water and stir together with a wooden spoon. All of the ingredients should form a ball. If some of the flour will not stick to the ball, add more water. Once all of the ingredients form a ball, place the ball on a work surface, and knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes. If you are using an electric mixer, mix it at low-speed for 10 minutes.

When you are done kneading the dough, place it in a bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil.

Form a ball out of the dough and place it into the bowl, rolling the ball of dough around in the bowl so that it has a light coat of oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours.

When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release some of the trapped gases and divide it into any number of pieces depending how big or small you like your pita. Roll each piece into a ball, cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so that it’ll be easier to shape.

While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to preheat as well. If you do not have a baking stone like I don’t too, then just use a normal baking tray, like I did.

After the dough has relaxed for 20 minutes, spread a light coating of flour on a work surface and place one of the balls of dough there. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough and use a rolling-pin or your hands to stretch and flatten the dough. You should be able to roll it out to 1/4 inch thick approximately. If the dough does not stretch sufficiently you can cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.

Open the oven and place as many pitas as you can fit on the hot baking surface. They should be baked through and puffy after 3 minutes. If you want your pitas to be crispy and brown you can bake them for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, but it is not mandatory. I did, because that is how we like pita bread; a little brown and crisp. Not all my pita puffed up but some did and it was a delight to see them puff up.

It is advisable to have pita bread as soon as it is out of the oven with hummous ( chickpea dip) or labneh dip ( yogurt dip) or even with meat or vegetable curries. It can be stored for many days in an air tight container and can be microwaved to soften them ( by sprinkling some water before putting it in a microwave)

Hope everybody who attempts this finds it easy and tasty an endeavour to try again and again.

56 Responses to “Pita Bread – Fresh from the Oven June Challenge”

  1. Tina V. May 31, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

    I love pita bread! :)
    Great challenge :))

    • Anita Menon June 1, 2012 at 8:03 am #

      thank you tina. You should participate, if you love making breads

  2. S June 1, 2012 at 12:15 am #

    How lovely! This was my Friday baking plan ! No joking. I just made Hummus with dried tomatoes and can’t wait to get the bread made.

    - Soumya

    • Anita Menon June 1, 2012 at 7:43 am #

      Humous with dried tomatoes sounds super delightful Soumya.Hope you will blog about it so that I can try that soon.

      • S June 4, 2012 at 7:56 am #

        Hey, I just made the one mentioned at ecurry. Of course didn’t follow the qty. directions though, came out quite well. Pita has not yet happened :(

        Soumya

      • Anita Menon June 4, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

        yay… ! checking it out!

  3. Akshata June 1, 2012 at 7:48 am #

    Amazing! I think the moment-of-truth would have been when it puffed up in the oven. I can’t imagine how heavenly your home must have smelled! Mimi’s gonna have beautiful memories growing up. :) Bless you guys!
    This post also reminds me of the public ovens where traditionally people used to take their prepared dough and pay to get it baked in these ‘tandoors’. Was this true in Bahrain too? Keep these coming. I loved this post! Simple and insightful

    • Anita Menon June 1, 2012 at 7:51 am #

      Yes in Bahrain too, there was a time when people used to take their leavened dough to the public bakeries to get their bread for the day done. Thanks so much Akshata

  4. Deboshree June 1, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    I have heard good things about Pita Bread but trying this one out seems just that – a challenge. :P Wonderful way of presenting the recipe though!

    • Anita Menon June 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

      Thanks so much Deboshree. It is really not that difficult

  5. yummychunklet June 1, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    Your pita looks delicious! I love the oven preparation of the pros. Great post!

  6. Poornima June 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

    I’ve never tried making pita at home, would love too. These look awesome, love the presentation of the recipe.

  7. TheWhiteRamekins June 1, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    bread baking excites me a lot……haven’t tried much on this side of baking….these pita bread look so warm and comforting….hope to bake bread soon and participate in this challenge someday…:)

  8. atasteofmadess June 1, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

    Oh my goodness. I’ve never even thought about making homemade pita bread! This looks delicious!

    • Anita Menon June 4, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

      thanks so much. You should try it. its really easy

  9. Ameena June 2, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    I LOVE pita bread…is it really this easy? I’m so impressed.

  10. Raji June 2, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    It’s long since I made pita bread at home, yours have turned out so perfect, round and beautifully puffed up :)

  11. Sanchita June 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    loved the pita bread pics..I never tried making one but looks like I need to give it a try soon :)

  12. Tandy June 4, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    great challenge!

  13. eat, little bird June 4, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    Your pita bread looks beautiful!! So lovely and golden! I have never thought about making my own pita bread but you have now inspired me to do so … I really need to get over my aversion to working with yeast! But I’m sure all of that waiting time is worth it.

  14. Gayathri June 4, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    Lovely , Anu…I guess I will make these my first try in bread baking and talking about khuboos, I can eat those cheese khuboos any time of the day…:)

  15. Rosa May (@RosasYummyYums) June 5, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    Very well done! Those pita breads look perfect and ever so tempting.

    I wish I had one of those traditional ovens.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  16. marie June 5, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    I am not that fond of store bought pita bread but homemade, oh my, looks so delicious. And I know my kids would get a kick out of seeing it puff up. It is so very interesting to see all of the different cooking vessels used throughout the world.

    • Anita Menon June 6, 2012 at 8:04 am #

      It is indeed. The traditional way of doing things is way more interesting.

  17. shruti June 6, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    the bread looks fabulous anita ! love the bakery images…

  18. Cass @foodmyfriend June 7, 2012 at 5:14 am #

    I made some pitas not long ago, nothing like yours though. You are so talented :)

  19. George@CulinaryTravels June 7, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    These look delightful. I have taken part too http://culinarytravels.co.uk/2012/06/07/pita-bread-fresh-from-the-oven/

  20. My Inner Chick June 10, 2012 at 7:15 am #

    Ooo, this looks FABulous … WOW.

  21. David Crichton June 15, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    Loving your blog Anita, I may have to join in and have a go at the bread challenge. Now where do I find a clay oven these days?

    • Anita Menon June 15, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

      they are found only in the traditional districts of India, Middle east etc.. nowhere else. I am glad you liked my blog David!

  22. sybaritica June 17, 2012 at 1:09 am #

    Those are excellent! Did they split nicely for making Pita pockets?

  23. bhavani/ameanderingmango June 22, 2012 at 5:43 am #

    Great post! I’ve made bread but never attempted pita bread – your recipe is encouraging. Thanks for sharing!

  24. roxyinthekitchen June 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    I tried this recipe, these came out wonderful!! :)

  25. Marilyn June 26, 2012 at 1:07 am #

    Love this post. Despite years in the Middle East I am shy when it comes to trying things like this. I have to say you make it look amazing and….easy. Will try this – thanks.

  26. Dima Sharif June 26, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    What an awesome post, love this pita bread recipe, thank you for sharing :)

  27. Khaireddin November 19, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    to get the pitas puffed you should have a higher temperature than 400 degrees. I use hotter oven and I get all my pitas puffed nicely.

    • Anita Menon November 22, 2013 at 11:12 am #

      Thanks so much for the tip and thanks for visiting my blog.

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