Thursday, January 04, 2007

Pita Bread

from King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion

makes 8 pitas

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons dough relaxer (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup (8 ounces) water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all the ingredients, mixing to form a shaggy dough. Knead the dough by hand (10 minutes) or by machine (5 minutes) until it's smooth. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and let it rest for 1 hour. It will become quite puffy, though it may not double in bulk.

Turn the dough onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide it into 8 pieces. Roll two to four pieces into 6-inch circles (the number of pieces depends on how many rolled-out pieces at a time can fit on your baking sheet). Place the circles on a lightly greased baking sheet and let them rest, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 500ºF.(Keep the unrolled pieces of dough covered. Roll out the next batch while the first batch bakes.) Place the baking sheet on the lowest rack in the oven and bake the pitas for 5 minutes; they should puff up. (If they haven't puffed up, wait a minute or so longer. If they still haven't puffed, your oven isn't hot enough; raise the heat for the next batch.) Transfer the baking sheet to the oven's middle-to-top rack and bake for an additional 2 minutes, or until the pitas have browned. Remove the pitas from the oven, wrap them in a clean dish towel (this keeps them soft), and repeat with remaining dough. Store cooled pitas in an airtight container or plastic bag.

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