This is a new recipe for both my husband and I. We have been blessed with new neighbors that are both originally from Jordan. The darling husband and I do not know much about the country so we are trying to learn as much as possible. We love history, culture and different foods so it is a great fun. Hopefully we don’t annoy our neighbors with constant questions and trying to veganism all of their traditional foods. As I was reading up on traditional Jordan food, I learned that a staple in their diet is pita breads. If you have never had a pita, it is like a large round unleavened piece of bread that puffs up when baked. The ending result has a large gap in the center that allows a lot of things to be stuffed inside. We have eaten a lot of pitas but never have we made our own at home.
It was a great experience learning how to make it and we will definitely be making more in the future. The video that I first watched to see how pitas were baked was this amusing video by Learn Arabic with Maha. It’s very humorous to watch and I’m sure you will learn something from it. They are such a cute couple!
Then my darling husband and I closely followed along with the recipe from Group Recipes to make the pita bread. We found that it worked great and were so excited each time a pita came out of the oven. Each one puffed up fine but they do not brown easily on top and burn a little easily on the bottom, oops. We decided to bring one of our neighbors over to see if we were doing it right. Haha Once she announced they looked like her mothers’ (whom was born and raised in Jordan) she gave a “standing ovation”. Okay, so maybe they were already standing but still I’m sure they would have if they weren’t standing. Or maybe we were just so delighted with our work that we were giving the kudos, I’m not really sure which it was…LOL
Here’s the original recipe as we used it:
2 ¼ tsp dry active yeast
1/2 c lukewarm water
3 ½ c un-enriched white flour
1 ¼ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 c lukewarm water
1. If you are careful with your proportions, you won’t wind up with a sticky nightmare!
2. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour and salt, mix thoroughly using your hands or a rubber spatula; make a well, add the yeasty water and about 1/2 the lukewarm water; mix and gradually add more water a few TBSP at a time using a rubber spatula (it can be very sticky until well mixed) until firm and elastic and just a little sticky (may adhere slightly to your hand – you want the dough to be as soft and ‘fluid’ as possible so it can ‘pop’).
3. TURN dough on to a lightly floured working surface and knead for 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Return to the bowl, cover with a plastic wrap and leave in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 2-3 hours (much less if you are using ‘rapid-rise’ yeast).
4. WHEN dough has nearly doubled in size, punch down, knead lightly, roll out a ‘rope’ and pinch off hand fulls to form into balls about the size of tangerines – between a ping-pong and a tennis ball.
5. PUT pizza stone or baking sheet in oven on lowest rack; remove any other racks to ease access, pre-heat oven to 450 deg. F.
6. PLACE balls on a lightly floured surface a few inches apart, cover and let rest for 10 – 15 minutes.
7. ON your lightly floured working surface, squash a ball flat and round with your hand and then roll out, flipping and turning, a round of the desired thickness – less than 1/4 inch thick and about 5″ across. This will take experimentation, until you achieve the kind of bread you like. I like it very thin, but suit yourself
8. SET aside, covered, for another 10 minutes.
9. NOW the interesting part: baking the bread. Middle Eastern bread ovens are cavernous affairs (even wood-fired from time to time) and are very hot, with a very hot floor. The bread is put on long paddles (same as pizza) and deployed in the oven until it puffs and browns slightly on top.
10. WE try to achieve the effect by using the bottom rack of the oven; using a pre-heated pizza stone or baking sheet; transferring the bread to the hot stone or sheet and baking for about 4 minutes – when the bread has ‘popped’ and browned ever so slightly on the edges or top. The time depends on how thick and moist your bread is; how your oven is constructed, and how hot the oven is. My best results have been with the stone – you will have to experiment.
11. ALLOW to cool, flatten, store in plastic bags. Can be refrigerated or frozen, with appropriate re-heating or micro-waving (if they last that long).