How to make Pita bread

The world has hundreds of types of bread. I once bought a book whose theme was bread recipes from around the world…it had over 500 bread recipes! That’s how popular bread is and a testimony to just how fundamental bread is to us and our various cultures. Sorry Banting people!

Flat breads are one of the oldest types of bread you get. Many dating back thousands of years to the age of the Egyptians. Pita bread is said to date back as far as 2500 B.C. Flat bread is even mentioned in the Bible and the whole ceremony of Holy Communion in some churches revolves around flat bread.

This recipe is pretty simple and only uses 5 ingredients, the skill is in your timing of the raising of the dough and making sure it rises enough. When working with yeast ALWAYS PROOF YOUR DOUGH TWICE. If you don’t let your dough raise twice you’ll have a stodgy and dense final product and the key with pita bread is to make it light and fluffy but with a stable crust that won’t tear easily. Pita is made to be stuffed, that air pocket in the middle of the bread is key to a good pita. It’s achieved by heat (you need to heat your pans in the oven beforehand before placing the bread on them to bake) and enough steam developing in the middle of the pita to make it puff up. In the middle east and Mediterranean region traditionally it’s baked on iron slates in stone or brick ovens.

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Ingredients
1,5kg Cake Flour
90g Castor Sugar
18g Salt
25g Dried yeast
Lukewarm water

Method
– Mix all your dry ingredients together in a bowl (if using a mixer, use the bread dough hook)
– Add warm water gradually and mix until your dough is smooth and elastic and springs back when you press your finger into the dough
– Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to proof in a warm place til double in size (about 1 hour)
– Once your dough has risen, weigh out 150g separate pieces of it. Place them on a floured surface and cover with a damp cloth or more cling wrap. It’s key that they don’t dry out!
– Allow the dough pieces to rise again (about 30 minutes)
– Roll each piece of dough into a round ball and roll each one flat with a rolling pin until it’s a disc (not too thin).
– Sprinkle flour generously over each disc and cover again for another 15 minutes.
– Place clean oven trays in your oven and heat the oven to 160°C (this step is key to your pita creating that distinct air pocket)
– Place the discs on the heated oven trays and bake for about 8 to 12 minutes. If made properly, your pita will puff up as it bakes. Don’t worry, the pitas will go flat again when you remove them from the oven.

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