Friday, May 8, 2009

Pita Pockets

I found this recipe at Budget Bites by Tari {which is an amazing resource! everyone go look - you won't be disappointed, I promise!} and I love it! I have pretty much resolved to never buy a pita pocket again because it can't possibly be as good as this was! I had to revise the instructions a little because I don't have a bread machine to mix the dough. I think it worked out fine {though I can't compare to see which is better - sorry}. I'm going to write my instructions for making it without a bread machine {though some will still be the original instructions from Tari} - and because I really want you to go check out this blog, I'm gonna say that if you do have a bread machine, visit the link below and read Tari's instructions for making it. Again, I promise you won't be sorry if you spend even just a few minutes over there!

1-1/4 cup milk, warmed in microwave for 1 minute
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour**
1 teaspoon rapid rise yeast**

Add ingredients, in the order listed, to your bowl.

Stir the ingredients together thoroughly, about one minute. {This is where it gets interesting!} After about a minute of stirring, take the dough out of the bowl and begin kneading by pulling the in your hands back and forth, as though working with clay {trust me, you do not want to try kneading this like bread on your table - it will be a big mess!}. The dough will be very sticky but you do not want to add extra flour! Just work with it in your hands until it becomes soft and spongy. It takes about 7-8 minutes of pulling and working with your hands; you will be able to tell that the dough is about ready because it will become less sticky. Remember, the dough should be soft and almost spongy. This is about what it will look like:

When finished kneading, place back into mixing bowl {you might want to clean it out just a little first}, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rest for 10 minutes (this helps the dough shape easier).

On a very lightly floured surface divide dough into 8-12 balls {more balls = smaller pitas - I made 11 and they were just about too small for us}

Roll each ball into a flat disk about 1/4" thick - if you flour the rolling pin before then they won't stick to it {the flatter they are, the less they will "puff" when they rise}.

Cover the dough and let rise until slightly puffed, about 30 minutes {I discovered that the pitas puffed better if I let them rise on the pan I was going to cook them on - I tried both that method and letting them rise on the table and then transferring them, and they stay nice and fluffy if you let them rise on the pan}.

Place 1/2 of pita rounds on a greased baking sheet {I used an upside down cookie sheet} and bake in the bottom of a 450 F oven for 4-5 minutes, or until bread is puffed {mine were done in about 3-1/2 minutes - you really have to watch them because the dough doesn't really brown, so don't wait for browned pitas- they will burn}. Remove from oven and repeat with remaining dough. When cooled, cut a slit in the side of each pita, fill with your favorite filling and enjoy!

{** Note - Important Note from Tari's instructions: Bread flour and rapid rise yeast are essential to making homemade bread, especially when you are using the bread machine for part of all of the process. These two ingredients help ensure a fluffier product than if you used regular all-purpose flour and a different type of yeast. You can use other flour and yeast, however, you're bread will turn out more dense.}

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