The Joy of Cooking Pita Bread
from The 75th Anniversary Edition of The Joy of Cooking Cookbook by Irma Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker
I have had a few people ask me for this recipe. For some reason, pita bread seems to be a daunting bread creation. It is really very simple. It will take a while as the dough does need to rise at least once. I usually let it rise twice.
3 cups bread flour (I have used all-purpose with good results)
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 packages (1 1/2 tbsp) active dry yeast (I usually use 2 tbsp)
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 1/4 cup room temp water
Combine flour, sugar, salt, & yeast in a large bowl or the bowl fo a heavy-duty mixer. Add the butter and water. Mix by hand or on low-speed for about 1 minute. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or with the dough hook on low to medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft, and elastic. Add flour or water as needed; the dough should be slightly tacky but not sticky. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it once to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temp until doubled in volume, 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
Set a rack in the lower level of the oven and place a pizza or baking stone on the rack. Preheat the oven to 450°F for 45 minutes. (If you do not have a pizza or baking stone, preheat the oven, place an inverted baking sheet on the rack, and heat the baking sheet for 5 minutes.) *if you punch the dough down an extra time, wait for it to finish rising the second time before doing this step.
Meanwhile, punch down the dough. Divide equally into 8 pieces, and roll the pieces into balls. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. (*I will usually punch down the dough and let it rise one more time in the bowl, then punch it down and divide it).
On a very lightly floured surface, roll out each ball of dough into a thin round, about 8 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch think. Spray the stone or baking sheet with a mist of water, wait 30 seconds, then place as many dough rounds as will fit without touching each other directly on the hot surface. Bake until the dough rounds puff into balloons, about 3 minutes (seriously – only about 3 – 5 minutes. Pitas are thin and do not require much baking time), then bake 30 seconds longer and immediately remove the breads to a rack to cool. If you leave the breads in the oven too long, they will become dry and will not deflate to flat disks. Bake the remaining rounds.