Total time: Approximately 5 hours.
The 2010 February Daring Cooks Challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to present a mezze table. The required recipes were pita bread (here) and hummus.
Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
2 teaspoons regular dry yeast (.43 ounces/12.1 grams)
2.5 cups lukewarm water (21 ounces/591 grams)
6 cups all-purpose flour (17.5 -21 ounces/497-596 grams)
1 tablespoon table salt (.50 ounces/15 grams)
2 tablespoons olive oil (.95 ounces/29 ml)
1. In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 3 cups flour, a cup at a time, and then stir 100 times, in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest for 90 minutes.
2. Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Let the dough rest 10-15 minutes.
3. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Rinse out the bowl, dry, and lightly oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.
4. Place a pizza stone, or two small baking sheets, on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1-inch gap all around between the stone or sheets and the oven walls to allow heat to circulate. Preheat the oven to 450F (230C).
5. Lightly flour the top of the dough and both sides of your hands. Gently punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, and then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide into 8 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack.
6. Place 2 breads, or more if your oven is large enough, on the stone or baking sheets, and bake for 4 to 6 minutes, or until each bread has gone into a full balloon. If for some reason your bread doesn’t puff up, don’t worry. Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled-out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.
Makes 16 large pitas.