Every now and then you remember something that is easy to make yet makes a wonderful versatile meal that you wonder how on earth you could ever forget about it.
This happened the other day when rooting through the cupboards trying to figure out what to have for dinner. We had tomatoes and a bunch of fresh coriander and even a couple of avocados that had unbelievably finally gone soft. So salsa and guacamole where on the cards, but what to have with it? A couple of chicken breasts recovered from the back of the freezer and an onion and a lettuce procured from the local shop and a meal was forming. All that is required is a vessel to carry all this lovely food from plate to mouth for munching, and that was when it happened, the penny dropped and voila the concept of pitta breads was remembered.
With the right equipment the humble pitta bread is a super easy, fun and surprisingly tasty bread; let me now remind you how easy they are.
What you will need to make a dozen:
- 450g of strong white bread flour
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 30g of fresh yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 260ml of water
- A good glug of olive oil
Optional – for variety just before kneading add some toasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds or chilli flakes, you have a blank canvas so experiment!
Now the process required to make them. I trust you are the proud owner of a pizza stone, if not go get one they are brilliant especially for baking. If not you will need to find something big and heavy that you can use such as a heavy baking sheet or even a cast iron frying pan etc. Whatever you choose pop it into the oven near the top of the oven and turn the heat up to around the 230C or 450F or gas mark 8.
Put the water in a jug and pop into the micro wave and nuke for 45 seconds so that it is warm but not hot. Add the sugar and yeast and give a good stir till everything is dissolved and put somewhere warm for five minutes.
Sift the flour into your mixing bowl and through the salt in and pour the olive oil over the top. When your yeast mix is bubbling away and starting to foam when stirred throw that into the bowl as well. Now if you have a food mixer, with a dough hook beat for five to ten minutes till the dough is smooth and elastic. If you don’t own a mixer then time to get your hands messy!
When the dough is finished being kneaded then coat the inside of a clean bowl with olive oil and the ball of dough, place in the bowl and cover with cling film and a T-towel and place somewhere draft free and warm till its doubled in size.
Lightly flour your work top and place the risen dough in the middle. You now need to punch it till all the air has been knocked out of it. Knead by hand for a couple of minutes and then shape it into a log. Use a knife to cut into half and then again each piece into half. Finally cut each of the four sections into thirds to make twelve balls of dough all roughly the same size. Cover with your cling film again and leave for another 15 minutes to relax.
Again, lightly dust your work top and take a ball of dough, squash it down and press it flat. With a rolling pin roll out the ball till it’s roughly pitta bread shape, dust with flour and set aside, repeat with the other eleven balls of dough. When done cover and leave till ready to cook.
Just before cooking uncover the pitta bread and re-roll out if they have shrunk.
When the oven has been up to temperature for a while place a couple of the pitta breads on the pizza stone (or iron pan, baking sheet etc) and cook on one side for 3 minutes and then flip them over and cook for another 2 minutes.
Look upon your creations and marvel at the way they have puffed up perfectly and be sure to call the family to your side so they can marvel at the wonder too! Remove them from the oven and wrap in a clean T-towel till ready to eat.
Cut a slot in the side of one and pack with your chicken, salad, guacamole, salsa and maybe a spot of soured cream and grated cheese!