Thursday, April 8, 2010

I pity you for not attempting this.

I have a problem with chocolate. My problem with chocolate is that I usually don't crave chocolate alone. I crave chocolate along with something equally as bad, something bready or starchy. Strange to you maybe but I generally tend to listen to my more bizarre cravings. I can easily dip a salted potato chip into some Nutella and enjoy it and one of the first things I think of when there's hot bread around is: chocolate! And since we have a chocolate hoarder in the family (I won't reveal which one of us), it would be nice to have more... bread! But sadly and boohoo for you, this is not a tribute to chocolate. Not just yet.

This is a tribute to my now favorite bread, probably because I miss Cairo and probably because it's so versatile. You never think that the fresh hot pita bread you or a family member picked up on the street (either plain to be used at home later or stuffed with something equally as fresh, hot and good) is something you'll really, really miss when it's not there anymore. Pita bread, Arabic bread or whatever you want to call it:I apologize to you for not appreciating you more often back home. I apologize for choosing baguette over you a lot of the times. I'm so sorry. So what happens when you miss something a lot? You either go to it or make it come to you. And since I'm not due in Cairo just yet, pita bread was going to join me for a menage a trois with my Nutella jar among so many other things. I am not exaggerating when I say: so many other things. So I scoured the Internet for maybe a full day (no joke) until I found what looked like the perfect recipe hiding peacefully in Candace's blog. We enjoyed this so much! Perfect recipe it is! So without any further need for formalities, you can now proceed to call me "Teta", "Grandma" or anything else you'd like since it's "like so uncool to like make pita bread at home! Like, who has the time to do that? Loooser." But guess what? I impressed myself so much with this, I almost cried.

Pita Bread or Back Home Bread (to me): (Taken from I Shot the Chef Thank you so much, Candace. You gave me back a piece of home. )

1 teaspoon of dry yeast
2 and a 1/2 cups of tepid water (25-30 degrees Celsius)
2 and a 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour (I used Atta flour because I had it lying around. Use any whole wheat flour you prefer.)
1 tablespoon of salt
1 and a half tablespoons of olive oil
2 and a 1/2 to 3 and a 1/2 cups all purpose flour 

Stir the yeast and water together in a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon and stirring in one direction, add the whole wheat flour, about a cup at a time; then stir 100 times, or until the mixture looks smooth and silky.  This is the sponge that needs to rest covered with plastic wrap for at least 30 minutes, although it is best if it can rest longer, up to 8 hours in a cool place. I left it for 2 hours.

Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and then stir in the olive oil, mixing well, again stirring in the same direction. Add the all purpose flour a cup at a time, mixing until the dough is too stiff to mix with the spoon.  Scrape into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. The dough will be moderately firm and have a slight sheen.

Rinse the mixing bowl, dry it and coat it lightly with oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and turn to coat in oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours or until it doubles in bulk. 
Deflate the dough by kneading it briefly. Divide it in half and keep one half under plastic or a cloth while you work with the other. Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and with the light floured cupped hands, form the pieces into tight balls; keep the balls under plastic while you work on the others. On a well floured surface, flatten the balls of dough into a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick. Cover, but do not stack the rolled out breads.

Bake in the oven. I used a pizza stone but you can also use a sheet pan. Preheat your oven to 230 degrees Celsius.
Place the dough on the preheated stone/sheet and bake for 3-5 minutes or until the breads resembles blown-up balloons. Don’t worry of you get seams or dry spots or less than full balloons; the bread will still taste good. As the breads come out of the oven, wrap them together in a large kitchen towel. Finish baking this batch of bread, roll out the remaining dough and continue baking.

Makes 16 pitas


  1. Can't wait to try this out! Though I might have to reduce the portions quite a bit... what'd I do alone with 16 pitas? :) How long do the stay fresh and fluffy?

  2. Hey Freddy! You don't have to make them all at once. I didn't. The dough stays great for up to a week in the fridge and you can freeze it too. It's such a great dough and it takes quite a while to let it rise several times etc so I'd recommend making it at once. Besides, you'll go through the dough MUCH faster than you realize. Haha! We made around 8 the first night and had two left over by the end. I heated them in a preheated oven the next day and they were just as fresh. Great sandwich material. Back home, we always just freeze the baked ones and use them as we go along. Make sure to check your timings and your oven though because I'm sure you know that not all ovens work the same so yours might take a shorter or longer time depending. I'd love to see a photo! Happy baking and do e-mail me if you want some ideas for different Egyptian vegetarian dishes. You know where to find me. :)

  3. They look like perfection!

    I'm the type of person that always craves salty after I have sweets. And, I'm definitely a fan of salty and sweet together. I can't say I have ever craved bread and chocolate though, but who's to say it will never happen. :)

  4. Cheri: I'm glad you decided to stop by! They were super. The only thing I would change though is that I would add more whole wheat flour and reduce the all purpose flour for a more authentic taste of home but this was so close, it made me smile BIG! Haha. Will be dropping by your page soon to look at your fantastic recipes and photos again.


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