All about Pita Bread
Pita bread is a round, leavened flatbread that is consumed widely across several Middle Eastern, Balkan and Mediterranean cuisines. It is traditional Arabic bread that has been around for thousands of years. The main distinguishing characteristic of this bread is that it is flat but has a pocket between the two flat layers. ‘Pita’ is a Greek term, which literally translates to ‘flat’.
Pita bread is usually made with wheat but you do get other varieties including whole wheat and multigrain.
Creating The Pocket In Pita Bread
It’s interesting to know how the pocket is created in this bread. It is quite unusual and different from most other types of bread.
Basically the pocket is formed because the dough gets puffed up by the enormous amount of steam. The bread has two flat layers and it is baked at extremely high temperatures. At these temperatures the dough expands rapidly and separates in the center. This creates a large air bubble between them and the two layers separate to form an internal pocket between them. The bread flattens out as it cools down but the pocket remains.
How Pita Bread Is Eaten
Pita bread is very versatile and there are several ways that it is served and eaten.
When the bread is cut in half, you get two pockets of bread. The pockets can be served stuffed with meat, raw or cooked vegetables, cheese or a combination of all three. These stuffed pockets are called pita sandwiches.
It is a common item at any Arabic meal and is eaten with falafel, souvlaki and kebabs. One of the most popular ways of eating it is with a huge dollop of hummus or baba ganoush.
In the West, pita chips, which are toasted triangles of pita bread, have become popular as a healthy alternative to French fries. Pita bread stuffed with tuna or frankfurters are other innovative ways that it can be eaten as a healthier alternative to using white bread.
Making Pita Bread
Here’s a simple recipe on how to make pita bread
- 3 ½ cups flour
- 1 packet yeast, approximately 7 grams
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 ½ cup warm water
Mix sugar and yeast with ½ cup warm water in a small bowl and let it sit for about 10- 15 minutes.
In another bowl, mix 3 cups flour with salt. Slowly stir in the yeast mix and 1 cup water. Mix till well combined.
Take a third bowl, smear olive oil all over the inside, place the dough in it and cover with a cloth.
Let it sit in a warm place for about 3 hours. At this time, the dough would have risen considerably.
Remove the dough and knead it some more for about 10-15 minutes on a floured surface.
Take small bit of dough, roll into balls and let it sit in the plate for another 10 minutes.
Roll out and flatten the dough balls a little bit. Place them in the oven, which has been preheated to 450 degrees. Heat for about 3-4 minutes, till it looks all puffed up.
Remove from the oven and enjoy!