Fast and Dirty Pita Pockets

#RecipeUpTop (details below):

  • 500g bread flour;
  • 300g water;
  • 50g lard or vegetable shortening;
  • 25g sugar;
  • 10g salt;
  • 5g yeast;

Method: Combine all ingredients and knead thoroughly. Form into a ball, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about two (2) hours. Divide dough into ping-pong sized balls, and roll flat. Griddle on an ungreased skillet, turning frequently, until puffed and browned.

The Details

From time to time here at the fort, we find ourselves devoid of bread but with a craving for a chewy, toasty, tear-able snack that doesn’t take all day. Our solution is frequently this fast-and-loose version of pita bread that produces satisfying pockets for stuffing with tuna or egg salad, rounds suitable for dunking and dipping in herbed oils or fresh hummus or local goat cheese, or (with a little extra step) wedges to be baked to crispy chip status.

Like most things here on the blog, these can be made with stuff you probably already have laying around, are lightning fast to make (compared to other breads), and beat the pants off anything you’ll find at the mega-mart. Also, like most things here, there are a few tricks to get the best results along the way.

Lastly, the yield on these is absolutely bonkers. We’re using the same amount of flour as a standard loaf of bread, but because of the technique, this produces and truly wild amount of pita.

Anyway, onward.

Step one: everyone in the pool.

No surprises here, or elaborate methods of mixing. Literally, just get it in a bowl together and go to town. I use a stand mixer because this dough is both sticky and kinda dense due to its relatively low hydration (60%). You can absolutely do this by hand, just know it may be a bit of a workout.

Mix until thoroughly combined, and the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl:

Get some flour down on a work surface, and turn the dough out:

Give it a little extra kneading, and form into a ball:

Slap this in a bowl, cover with a tea towel, and go do something else for a bit. After two hours, you should have a well-risen dough ball:

Step two: shaping and rolling. This is where pita really becomes pita, and, while it’s dead simple, it does take a little elbow grease and some patience.

I like to shape the dough into a big snake, for many reasons, some of which relate to cooking.

From here, divide your snake into even portions. We are looking to end up with portions about the size of ping-pong balls, so work in that headspace.

Now, the balls:

Each of these is going to be a full-sized pita pocket. TWENTY of them. Bonkers.

Have the flour on standby, dust frequently, and roll these out flatter than you think you should:

Roll out all of them in sequence, but keep track of which you’ve done first. These need to rest a bit, but by the time you’ve done the last of them the first will be ready to cook. I lay them out like this to help remember:

Step three: puff party. Get an ungreased skillet over medium-low heat. I like my cast iron griddle, but a regular skillet would work as well. Down go the first two pitas we rolled out:

Pretty quickly, you’re going to start seeing the dough puff up, and some bubbles start to form on the top:

You actually want to flip well before the bubbles get to this state, but I got distracted taking the pictures. Bubbles this big will inhibit even cooking after the flip, so, yeah. Flip them faster than I did.

Stand by and let them cook for a few minutes, then flip again. NOTE: you’ll probably want to open a window as the residual flour will toast and smoke a bit on the pan.

Shorty, the magic happens:

This is EXACTLY what you’re looking for. The steam created from the interior water vaporizing puffs the pita up like a balloon and creates that awesome pocket. Cook evenly on both sides, then remove to a waiting bowl lined with a tea towel where they will deflate:

Slice one in half, and you’ll see the sorcery you have wrought:

Serving suggestions? Olive oil and salt? Stuff them with falafel? Really, it’s pita. Rip it apart and eat it.

Oh, chips, right. Quarter the rounds and pull the pocket “layers” apart, and bake them for twenty five (25) minutes at 350F. Crispy, crunchy, not $8.00/bag.

And that’s it. Quick, dirty, delicious.

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