So this poor little blog has been a bit abandoned as of late. Why? Because B-School is crazy. And by crazy I mean super busy, super fun and A LOT of work. I’ve learned so much over the past three months both in the class room and outside of the classroom. I came into business school with the mindset that for the next two years I’d push boundaries both personally and professionally. We’re talking everything from travels, to activities, to how I socialize to the classes that I take etc. In the past three months I’ve been to Thailand and Indiana, ziplined, danced many a night away and I know that they are just core courses but I’m taking all sorts of quant courses. Oh, and it seems that in the spring I’m going to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Oman. On top of that recruiting started a mere few weeks after the start of classes. Recruiting alone is a courseload of work. Looking at my calendar for next week I pretty much have a dinner even booked with a firm each night (and one night I have two!). I also find it fascinating to speak to so many people about their unique experiences at these different firms. Needless to say business school is amazing.
And now back to the regularly scheduled blog post…
Now, you all know I’m pretty crafty but even sometimes I surprise myself. One of my fave Toronto food blogs (that really doesn’t focus on Toronto) is Le Sauce by Yasmin. While she’s vegetarian I don’t hold that against her and totally love everything about her blog (and I imagine she’s pretty awesome in person too). Imagine my surprise when visiting her blog a few weeks ago that I saw a menu for a Lebanese lunch that included homemade pita bread.
Yes, pita bread.
For some reason it had NEVER occurred to me to make pita bread from scratch. It’s not like the ones I get from the supermarket are that great or anything but I guess I kind of assumed that they required some special equipment or something to make the pocket. Shockingly, no special equipment is required and they are actually super easy to make.
When I was coming off my juice cleanse this summer I wanted to have a vegetarian feast so I made all sorts of goodness including tabbouleh and hummus and thought that homemade pita was a great accompaniment. The ingredient list is simple and you likely have everything in your pantry already to make this happen. From a time perspective there isn’t a ton of hands on time. Sure, there’s kneading (I use my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer for that) but the remaining time is mostly rising and resting. Not bad. Even cooking them takes under 5 minutes.
While my pitas didn’t turn out that pocket-y they did turn out super delicious. Sure I’m a sucker for any type of bread straight out of the oven but there’s something about homemade pitas that have won me over. I can definitely see myself making these again and assuming I figure out the secret to making them more pocket-y (if desired) I probably won’t buy pita anymore. But I get intense about things like that.
Recipe via Le Sauce
1¼ cups warm water (about 110⁰F)
¼ ounce active dry yeast (1 packet)
1 tablespoon of sugar
1½ cups whole wheat flour
1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus about ½ cup for dusting
1½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Activate the yeast: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the yeast into the warm water and add the sugar at the same time. Let the mixture sit for 3-5 minutes; after a couple minutes, you should start to see some foam rising to the top. (If there’s no foam at all, especially if the water isn’t warm, wait a few minutes longer; if there’s really nothing, you may have to start over with another packet of yeast.)
Combine the flours and salt in a large mixing bowl. Form a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the yeast mixture. Top it off with the two tablespoons of olive oil. With a big spoon, stir the ingredients until almost all of the flour has been absorbed, and it looks shaggy, but mostly together. Dump it onto a floured surface and begin kneading the dough. It should stick a little, but if it’s way too sticky, give the dough ball and your board a dusting of flour here and there. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. You can also mix and knead the dough in a mixer fitted with a dough hook, until it’s smooth and taut. If you poke your finger into it, should bounce back at you.
Spray a clean, large bowl with non-stick spray or wipe it with olive oil. Place the ball of dough in the bowl and cover it with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. You can either let the dough rise overnight in the fridge covered in plastic (for up to 12 hours) or, let it rise at room temperature for one hour.
After the rise, give the center of the dough a punch with your fist and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently roll it into a thick log. Cut it in half, and then cut each half into five equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. Cover the balls with a damp towel and let the dough rest once more for about 20 minutes. If you’re planning on freezing the dough, arrange the balls in a freezer bag so that they’re touching as little as possible. Lay the bag flat in the freezer so that each dough ball freezes individually. The day you’re ready make the pitas, thaw the dough balls in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
Using a floured rolling pin on a floured surface, roll each ball into a round, flat disk, about 1/8” thick. If you roll the pitas thicker, about ¼”, they might not puff as much, but they’ll turn out softer and deliciously chewy.
Cook them at high heat, since it’s the moisture in the dough turning to steam that makes them bubble up:
To cook the pitas on a sheet: Preheat oven to 450° F but first, put a pizza stone or another flat surface that conducts heat well (like a baking sheet turned upside down) on the rack. You want the pita to touch a hot surface as soon as it goes into the oven. Once preheated, open the oven and quickly place the flattened dough discs, as many as will fit with a good 1” all around for clearance, on the hot surface and close the oven door. Cook the pita for 3-4 minutes if you’re aiming for soft and chewy; or another minute or two longer for a crisper, light brown crust.
To cook the pitas on the stove: Heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat until very hot; it should be hot enough to make the dough sizzle for a moment as soon as it touches the pan. Lay a dough disc in the skillet – no oil necessary. Watch it puff up! After about 2-3 minutes, flip the pita and cook for 1-2 more minutes.
Makes 8-10 pitas.
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