All-Purpose Flour - A
medium-protein wheat flour made from hard wheat or a combination of soft and
hard wheat. It is designed for use in a wide range of baked products including
our pita bread recipe.
2 C. warm water (115-115 degrees)
1 T. sugar
1 T. active dry yeast
5 1/2 C. to 6 1/2 C. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
If you work away from home during the day or even if you work at home, you can
make up a sponge, with about half the flour. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the
warm water. Add 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour. Stir with a whisk and let sit
for 10 minutes to give the yeast a chance to get going.
When you get back to the sponge later on, add the salt and enough flour to make
a dough that is a bit stiff, one that you can easily knead by hand. Turn the
dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface and knead it until it is smooth and
bouncy, adding only enough more flour to keep it from sticking to the board or
you. Give it a rest for about 5 minutes to relax the gluten and make it more
cooperative about being shaped.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Flatten each piece with your hand and then roll
each piece with a floured rolling pin, or a pin with a cover, on a floured
surface into a circle about 6-inches in diameter and 1/8-inch thick. You may
need to let the pieces rest occasionally to relax the dough.
Sprinkle baking sheets with cornmeal, and place two circles on each. Or place
circles on pieces of parchment paper. Let the dough circles rest here for at
least 15 minutes while you preheat your oven to a hot 500°F. When the pita
circles have finished resting, place the baking sheet on the oven bottom or, if
this is not possible, on the lowest rack. If you're using a baking stone, make
sure it's on the oven floor, or on the lowest rack. Use a peel to transfer the
pitas-on-parchment to the stone. Close the oven door and keep it shut for 1
minute. Don't peek or the pocket may not form. It's this initially fast, hot
searing of the outside dough of the pita that makes it separate from the inside.
The carbon dioxide gas created by the yeast expands inside and accentuates the
separation until the pita blows up like a balloon and the pocket is created.
At the end of the minute, place the sheet on a rack higher in the oven and
continue baking anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes, until the pitas have blown up into
balloons and are lightly browned. If the pitas baked right on the stone, you'll
probably want to transfer them to a baking sheet, which is already in place on
the oven rack, for this second part of their baking.
When they're done, remove the baking sheet from the oven, slide the pitas off
and let them cool. They will probably deflate somewhat after cooling. Once
they're thoroughly cool you can press more air out of them so they take up less
Recipe Source: King Arthur Flour