Pita bread was my saving grace this past week. I completely screwed up. Not only did I not get my wife a gift, but I totally forgot it was Valentine’s Day altogether.
I know, horrible husband.
But thankfully I had my thinking cap on, as well as a brain full of cannabinoids, so I made her favorite meal, falafels!
Up until the time I met my wife I had never tried a falafel. Shit, I didn’t even know what a falafel was. Now it’s one of my weekend “go-to’s”.
With every great falafel is the base, or holder, the pita.
Fresh cooked, homemade pita bread is ten times tastier (and better for you) than any store bought, prepackaged pitas. And best of all, they’re pretty easy to make.
You don’t need any special kitchen tools to make these pitas, but a cast iron pan or griddle gives the best results. The heat retention on the cast iron is a huge benefit and browns the pitas nicely.
I personally use a Steelmade Flat Top Grill for my stove. It’s awesome. Takes me back to the pizza shop I grew up working in. Also makes it convenient for cooking a bunch of pitas at once.
I think the coolest part about cooking these for me is when they puff up. That’s when you know you did it right. You’ll cook one side, flip, then you should see large (or smaller) bubbles forming. That’s what gives pita bread the signature markings.
When it puffs up you’ll know it’ll make a great holder for your falafels! Don’t get too alarmed if they don’t all puff up the same or much at all. The last batch I made I’d say 3-4 didn’t really puff. You know what? They still opened up perfectly and tasted the same.
- 1 .25 ounce package active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water 90 to 100 degrees F/32 to 38 degrees C
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour or more as needed
- 1 teaspoon olive oil divided
- Place yeast into the work bowl of a stand mixer and add 1 cup warm water and 1 cup flour. Whisk together and let stand 15 to 20 minutes for mixture to rise and make a loose sponge. Mixture will bubble and foam.
- Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and salt into sponge; add 1 3/4 cup flour. Mix at low speed, using a dough hook attachment, until dough is soft, supple, and slightly sticky. If dough sticks to the sides of the bowl, add up to 1/4 cup more flour, a little at a time.
- Knead dough with machine on low speed until slightly springy and still soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and form into a ball.
- Wipe inside of bowl with 1/4 teaspoon olive oil. Turn dough around in bowl to cover with a thin film of oil; cover bowl with foil and let sit until dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours.
- Remove dough from bowl and place onto a floured work surface. Lightly pat into a flat shape about 1 inch thick. Use a knife to cut dough into 8 pieces.
- Form each piece into a small round ball with a smooth top, pulling dough from the sides and tucking the ends underneath the bottom.
- Cover dough balls with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Sprinkle a small amount of flour on a work surface and top of a dough ball; gently pat dough ball flat with your fingers, forming a flat, round bread about 1/4 inch thick. Let dough round rest for 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough balls.
- Brush a cast-iron skillet with remaining 3/4 teaspoon olive oil and place over medium-high heat. Lay pita bread into hot skillet and cook until bread begins to puff up and bottom has brown spots and blisters, about 3 minutes. Flip, cook 2 more minutes, and flip back onto original side to cook for about 30 more seconds. Pita bread will begin to puff up and fill with hot air. Stack cooked breads on a plate; when cool enough to handle, break breads in half and open the pocket inside for stuffing.