Pita is not such a P.I.T.A.
I hate it when we have hamburgers or hotdogs for dinner. It isn’t that I have anything against ground meat or pork products-of-ambiguous-origin, fact, I’ve been known to crave a hotdog. That doesn’t mean I ate the hotdog. I’m still a vegetarian.
What I *hate* is having to buy a bunch of hamburger buns or hotdog buns to complete the meal. With a family of two, only one of whom actually eats burgers and dogs, how can we really get through a package of hamburger buns or hotdog rolls without either
1) becoming insanely sick of burgers and dogs? or
2) resigning to eating stale buns?
In the past, I’ve caught the Omnivore downing a hotdog bun laden with tuna salad. It was kind of like getting a tunasalad sub-sandwich from Subway, only much more crass. He just couldn’t take another hotdog. And I just wouldn’t buy sandwich bread knowing that we had perfectly good bread, albeit in the shape of a hotdog roll, in our breadbox (yes, we use a breadbox). It was sort of like this stale-mate situation, with tuna salad that was quickly souring stuck in the middle.
Sometimes, we just use english muffins for our hamburgers and sloppy joes. They’re more multi-purpose than buns, afterall. And sometimes I put feta cheese in the burger, call it a “Greek Burger,” and then serve it in a pita pocket. If you’re going to Go Greek, afterall, Go Greek. Keep your Americanizaed buns to yourself.
Plus, after you make a batch of pita bread, you can have pita pizza. And that’s half the reason you put Greek Burgers on the menu for the week: leftover pita pockets for pita pizzas.
This type of bread is a snap to make at home and bakes up in less than 8 minutes. The dough can rest in the refrigerator for awhile and so, really, you have no excuse not to make this, even if you work 7 days a week, 365 days a year at the 7-11 Convenience store.
And, as the Omnivore and I enjoyed these wheat pita pockets (and he didn’t even MIND the wheat flour!), we realized that every other pita pocket we’d had in the past has been stale. Pits are soft and velvety. Not shoeleathery and apt-to-crack. Delicious.
Pita Bread (6 large rounds, adapted from Deborah Madison)
3/4 cups warm water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey or barley malt syrup
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1 cups bread flour
Put the warm water in the mixing bowl, stir in the yeast and honey, and set aside until foamy. Meanwhile oil a bowl for the dough. Stir in the salt and olive oil in the stand mixer bowl and then beat in the whole-wheat flour until smooth. I just used my dough hook all along. Add the rest of the flour in small increments and need until dough is smooth and supple.
Put the dough in the oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and set aside until doubled in bulk, 50 minutes to an hour. At this point, I just put the bowl, covered in plastic wrap, in the fridge. It stayed there for about 36 hours and I occasionally punched it down and turned it over until ready to use. 1 hr before cooking, I brought the dough to room temperature and made rounds as follows.
Punch the dough down and divide into 6 pieces for 7-8-inch breads. Roll each piece into a ball and then cover them with a damp towel. Put a baking stone or 2 sheet pans in the oven and preheat to 475°F. Allow the dough to relax while the oven heats—about 15 minutes—and then roll each ball into a circle a little less than 1/4 inch thick. Do not stack the rolled-out dough. Drop the rounds of dough directly onto the stone or heated pans and bake for 4-6 minutes, flipping once during baking. At this point, they should be completely puffed; remove them from the oven and cover with a towel to help them deflate, if desired. If you prefer un-pocketed pitas, bake stovetop.
My pita, soft and tender and delicious, overfloweth with cucumbers, lettuce, tomato, and a homemade chik’n breast with a drizzle of honey mustard. While the Omnivore enjoyed a burger of ground turkey with feta and oregano folded in the mix: