For the first time ever I own a really nice BBQ grill. I always wanted a gas stove but here only electricity is available. So, I figured a grill is the next best thing. My son wanted to practice making pita bread. OK, why not use the grill? After all, it can get up to 650F and it does not heat up the house! Big bonus here in Texas. I had used saltillo tiles ($1 each at Home Depot) in my house and figured I would use one (unused and clean) for the grill to lay the bread on. Beats spending $50 at Williams-Sonoma for a fancy pizza stone. The only problem is the tile will break eventually. Safer to use a cookie sheet.
I used a recipe from Anissa Helou’s book Savory Baking from the mediterranean. I simply changed the flours, substituting organic whole-wheat for half of the white flour. The process takes a few hours, with a lot of breaks so it is a good idea to do it when you are planning to be home for the day. But OH! how exciting and fun to see that bread puff up before you in a matter of minutes!
Question: Is it worth it? Once you smell that bread and taste its chewy wonderfulness, yes!!! Plus it will smell good for several days! You will not want to go back to store-bought!
INGREDIENTS: This quantity will produce 10 pitas.
- 1 heaping teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 heaping teaspoon white or brown sugar (optional)
- 3 1/3 cups flour: I used 1/2 unbleached bread flour and 1/2 organic whole-wheat flour or 500g total
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- optional: a handful of oat bran (available in bulk at health food stores)
- Grab a small bowl. Measure the yeast and sugar into it. Add 1/4 cup warm water and stir until all are dissolved. Place the bowl in a warm place, covered, for about 10 minutes until it puffs up and bubbles appear.
- Using a stand-in mixer or a bowl, measure the flours and salt and whisk both briefly to combine.
- Measure 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and pour in the midst of the flours, either mixing briefly with the dough hook or with your fingers until the oil is no longer visible and has moistened the flour.
- Grab the bowl of proofed yeast and add it to the flour. Add the warm water gradually while mixing. Keep mixing until you obtain a mass of sticky dough that forms a ball.
- Sprinkle flour on a working surface. Dump the dough on it and knead it for 3 minutes. Now invert the bowl on the dough and enclose it, letting it rest for about 15 minutes.
- Now, remove the bowl and knead the dough a few minutes until it is smooth and shiny and elastic. Don’t be afraid to adjust the flour ratio, sprinkling more flour if needed.
- Grab the bowl and pour about 2 tablespoons of oil in it and swirl it around. Dump the dough in the bowl and flip it to coat it evenly with oil.
- Cover the bowl, place it in a warm area and let the dough rise, about 1 hour. ( I placed the bowl outside in the sun)
- Drop the dough on the working surface. Press it evenly to get rid of the gasses. (You will hear it pop).
- Flatten your dough and make it into a circle. Fold one third of the circle, press on it to flatten it. Fold the other third, flatten it and pressing on the dough with your hands, make it into a rectangle. Fold one third of the rectangle over, flatten it, fold the other third and flatten it also.
- Grab the dough and place it in the bowl, seam side down. Cover the bowl. Let the dough rise again 1 hour.
- When the dough has doubled in volume, flip it out of the bowl and rolling it back and forth like a fat sausage, cut it into 10 pieces of even size. Roll each piece into a ball, by stretching the dough on the surface and keeping the seam under.
- Cover the 10 pieces with a moist towel and let them rise on a floured surface for 45 minutes.
- Finally!!! Heat the grill or the oven to at least 500F. Place the tile on one side (if using) and only heat one side of the grill. Roll each piece with a rolling pin into an even circle, about 7 inches in diameter. Transfer the circles into a floured baking sheet and cover them with a dry towel and let them rest for 15 minutes or so. You can also roll the pitas in oat bran on one side, for a nice flavor and crunch.
- Slide the pitas onto the hot tile. If you don’t have one, just place them on the part of the grill that is not lit up, on a small cookie sheet or straight on the actual grill, if you don’t mind grill marks (I do!)
- Or use the oven, in which case you can leave them on the baking sheet. They should be ready in about 6 minutes. It is preferable to bake 2 or 3 at a time.
- Serve immediately or when still warm. They can also be frozen.
If you don’t have a tile or a stone, no problem. You can light up one side of the grill and place the pitas on the side that is not lit up, right on the grill. OR, use a baking sheet, but check the pitas after 3 minutes to make sure they are not getting burned. Or, use a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil and place it on the side that is not directly on the flame: this is where you will set your pitas to bake.
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