Baking Pita or Flat Breads is as easy as baking cookies

I started to experiment with other possible uses for my Mighty Pizza Oven, to see what I could bake or cook in it besides pizza. The first thing that came to mind is pita or flat breads, which happens to be an ancient forerunner of pizza, as you probably know.

Just about every culture around the world has some kind of flat bread that has been passed down through history, as this was the only kind of bread possible before the discovery of yeast (even though many flat breads today include some yeast in the recipe).

In Lebanon, where I grew up, Pita or flat breads is a staple and an essential part of every meal. As you can imagine, there is no comparison between freshly-baked bread with its lovely smell filling the house and the 2-day-old, plastic-wrapped stuff you buy at the store.

Lebanese bread (pita or flat breads) is round thin flat bread about 10 inches in diameter and it has two sides, a red one and a white one. The two sides can be pulled apart to create a pocket that can be stuffed with all kinds of foods. It is used to make “sandwiches” or wraps. It is also used as a “scoop” for dips, meat, or any food on the table.

I started looking into recipes for pita or flat breads and I soon realized that it is very similar to pizza dough and very simple to make. So I decided to try and use my fast rise pizza dough recipe to make pita bread.  It almost felt like magic! Place the flat dough into the Mighty Pizza Oven, wait a few minutes, open the Oven, and voila! The dough was transformed into delicious pita bread.

Pita or Flat Breads Recipe to make 4 -10” pitas

525 grams of bread flour
2  teaspoons salt (ideally fine-grain salt)
1 teaspoon yeast

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
1 1/2 cups water, roughly at 100 deg. F
1 tablespoon olive oil

Warm the water in the microwave for 30 seconds. You want the water temperature to be about 100 deg F. Then add your yeast to the warm water and stir gently. Let it sit while you are measuring and mixing the rest of the ingredients.

Add the flour, salt, garlic powder, olive oil and water/yeast to your mixing bowl and blend them together with a stand mixer or a wooden spoon until you have a ball of dough.

Place the ball of dough on your work surface and knead it for around 10 minutes (take a short break if your hands get tired). A simple technique if you are new to kneading dough is to firmly press down the dough with the palm of your hand to open it out a little and then fold the dough over onto itself . Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat the process again and again.

Alternatively, use an electric mixer to mix the dough at low speed for 10 minutes. This will combine the ingredients thoroughly together to give you stretchy and elastic dough that rises well in Mighty Pizza Oven.

When you have finished the kneading process, form your dough into a ball like so: Use both hands to stretch the upper part of the dough down and right around itself, wrapping an outer layer of dough around the rest of it. Gently burst and flatten any air holes that form. Then use the heels of your hands to stretch the outer dough layer tight and pinch the two ends of the dough together, to close the seam and make a smooth ball with a tight outer skin. Turn the ball around and repeat.

Next, coat a plastic container (with lid) in a light layer of oil and put your dough in it. I use olive oil spray, but you can simply sprinkle some oil into your container and spread it with your fingertips. Place your dough ball in the container, rolling it around to coat it uniformly with olive oil, close the lid, and place the container in the oven with the oven light on (to speed up the rising process) for around 60 minutes.

My oven has a 40W bulb and the heat from that is enough if I place the dough container close to the bulb. My dough warms up to about 85 F, part of which is due to the heat generated by the yeast’s activity. I came up with this method to reduce the amount of yeast needed and to avoid using sugar to speed up dough rising process.

If your dough hasn’t doubled in size in 60 minutes, leave it a bit longer.

Once your dough has doubled in size, place it gently on a lightly floured work surface and use electronic scales and a dough cutter to divide it into 4 pieces of equal weight. If you don’t have scales, divide it as best you can. The dough should be soft and elastic. Shape each of the 4 pieces into a ball using the balling technique described earlier, and let them rest for another 10 to fifteen minutes.

While the dough rests, pre-heat the Mighty Pizza Oven for 30 minutes before the time you plan to bake.

 

To make pita bread:

Dust some flour onto your hands, then pick up a dough ball and turn it over so that the soft bottom side faces up. Gently shape the dough ball into a flat disk, and then use a dough roller to flatten it into a larger disk. Work your way around the disc of dough, trying to get a consistent thickness, you will want to get your dough about 1/4″ to 1/8” thick.  I tried to flatten one with my hand without using the roller and the pita didn’t puff up like the ones I used the roller on.

Place 1 pita dough on the hot baking surface of the Mighty Pizza Oven (or use a pizza stone in your kitchen oven). Your pita should be properly baked through and puffy after about 2 to 3 minutes. If you want crispy brown pitas, leave them in the oven for an extra minute or two, though that’s not really necessary. Also, take care not to burn them. The pitas you see in the photos were removed after 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat and cook your other pitas.

When ready, ejnoy your hot, fresh pitas for dipping, or cut them open and fill with the filling of your choice. I mixed up a plain yoghurt dip with dried mint, a pinch of salt and some dried garlic, and sprinkeld some extra virgin olive oil and Aleppo pepper on top. Yummy!

Simple, easy, fast and delicious!

 

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