Pita, also known as Middle Eastern pocket bread, the simplest of all yeast breads to make. A small round of dough puffs dramatically when baked in a hot oven on a baking sheet or on a hot stone. They collapse as they cool, with a pocket inside that is perfect for filling. Pitas are like French bread: they stale quickly but toast nicely. Brush both sides with olive oil, cut each round into 8 equal pie-shaped wedges, and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in the center of a 300 °F oven for 7 minutes, turn once, and cook for another 7 minutes. The baked pitas will crisp as they cool. Use with dips.
In a small bowl or 1-cup liquid measuring cup. pour in 1 cup of the water. Sprinkle die yeast and the pinch of sugar over the surface of the water. Stir to dissolve and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl using a whisk or in the bowl of, heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. combine the remaining water, olive oil, salt,. and whole-wheat pastry flour. Beat hard until creamy, about 1 minute. Stir in the yeast mixture. Add the unbleached flour, one cup at a time, until a soft, shaggy dough that just clears the sides of the bowl is formed. Switch to a wooden spoon when necessary if making by hand.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface with a plastic pastry scraper and knead until soft and springy. 1 to 2 minutes for a machine-mixed dough and 3 to 5 minutes for a hand-mixed dough, dusting with flour only 1 tablespoon at a time, just enough as needed to prevent sticking. Leave the dough moist and soft yet at the same time smooth and springy. If kneading by machine, switch from the paddle to the dough hook and knead for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and springy and springs back when pressed. If desired, transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead briefly by hand.
Place the dough in a lightly- greased deep container. Turn the dough once to coat the top and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1 1/2 h hours.
Preheat the oven to 475 ° F with a bakingstone set on the bottom rack. Parchment -line several baking sheets. or. heavily flour a peel. Gently deflate the dough and divide it in half. Cover half with plastic wrap or a clean towel to prevent forming a skin. Divide into 8 equal portions and form each into. ball. Let rest 10 minutes while dividing the second half of the dough. Dust the work surface with whole-wheat poultry flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the balls into 6-inch circles about 1/4 inch thick- Loosely cover the circles. Do not stack, as they will stick together. If the dough does not roll out easily, let it rest for 10 minutes to relax the gluten. Move the dough circles by draping them, one at a time on a flour-dusted rolling pin and place them on a floured dish towel before transferring to the peel or baking sheets. Let rest 15 minutes, or until puffy.
Transfer the Country-style whole-wheat pita circles to a peel or baking sheet. With a quick action of the wrist, slide the pits rounds from the peel directly onto the hot stone. Four will go on it at once. Or place the baking sheets, one at a time, on the bottom rack directly on the hot stone. Do not open the oven door for a full 4 minutes. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until fully puffed and light brown. Watch carefully that the pitas do not overbake or burn. The baking sheet pitas will take longer to bake than the stonebaked ones. Remove the puffed hot Country-style whole-wheat pitas with a wide metal spatula and stack between clean dish towels.
VARIATION: Substitute 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour far rise whole-wheat pastryy flour. (Do not use bread flour; it will make the pies too tough.) Substitue 2/3 cup of a specialty flour, such as soy, barley, chestnut, or brown rice floor form equal amount of the whole-wheat pastry flour. For sesame pitas sprinkle sesame seeds an the work surface and roll the dough ball into them, coating all surfaces, before rolling out the pita. total time: 2 hours preparation time: 15 minutes cooking/baking time: 8 – 10 minutes
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