The Middle East’s daily bread, easily made at home.
In the Middle East, here is always pita. Pita sops up humus and sauces; opens up to enfold falafel or shwarma; serves as a base for all kinds of spreads (like muhamarra). We take this homely bread for granted, but if it were taken away, we’d miss it like we’d miss our mothers.
While the ordinary pita you pick up in the market is pretty good, you can easily make it at home. Baked with one or both of these simple toppings, piled up in a basket still hot and put down on the table, it’s the essence of the Middle East.
makes about 8 pitas
- 1 Tblsp active dry yeast or 1/2 oz. fresh cube yeast
- 1- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3- 1/4 cups white flour
For Za’atar Spread:
- 6 Tblsp olive oil
- 4 Tblsp za’atar spice
- In a small bowl mix the yeast, the sugar and the warm water.
- Mix the flour and salt in a big bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour the yeast mixture in.
- Knead the mixture into dough. Continue to knead the dough for about 8 minutes , until it turns into a firm, elastic dough. If it’s too sticky to handle, add flour by tablespoons. It should be firm, but not stiff.
- Form the dough into a ball, and cover the bowl with a towel. Let the dough rise for 1 hour, and then knead it for 2 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 8 balls. Cover the dough balls with a towel.
- Roll out each ball gently on a floured surface until it is about ¼ inch thick.
- Line baking trays with parchment paper, and grease the paper lightly with olive oil.
- Preheat oven to 450°F, 230°C.
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and za’atar spice. Mix well.
- Slide as many pitas on each tray as will fit. Working quickly, lift the edges of each dough circle to make a lip around it. With a fork, make lots of little holes in the surface of each circle. This will keep the dough from rising up in bubbles. Cover each pita with a thick film of the spiced oil.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Variation: Use only 3 Tblsp. of za’atar and add 3 Tblsp. of paprika.
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