The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pita

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swtgran's picture
swtgran

Pita

I just took the most gorgeous sourdough Pita breads out of my oven.  My question is, do I cool them slightly and then bag them?  As of yet they have not deflated.  Is that a bad sign.  It is my very first time making pita bread.  Right now, they look like giant oyster crackers.  The hummus is about ready to go so I want these to be right.  Thanks.  Terry

rainbowbrown's picture
rainbowbrown

I'm sorry if this is too late, but I usually put them in a paper bag for about five minutes as soon as I take them out of the oven.  It softens them nicely, then once they cool I store the leftovers.

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I'm careful to take them out of the oven while still puffed, but they usually collapse when I dump them on the cooling rack.  You want this to happen because they'll remain soft but still split-able.  I let them cool completely before freezing, but we also eat them warm.  Watch out for some hot steam!

swtgran's picture
swtgran

I wish I had a digital camera I knew how to use and post pictures with.  Once these pitas cooled just a touch, I put them in plastic bags and they flatted a bit.  They were just delicious.  They ended up soft and pliable and had great pockets.  The crumb was nice and not thin and hard like I have gotten in the store.

We filled them with BBQ pork and coleslaw.  Everyone said they were the best pitas they have ever eaten.  They were also great with hummus.

Since this was my first time to ever make them I was afraid to change the recipe, but next time I am going to use some of my home ground white whole wheat.

Rainbowbrown, thank you for the paper bag idea.  I think that will work much better and there won't be condensation as in the the plastic. 

If anyone is interested I will post the recipe.

bakerincanada's picture
bakerincanada

bakerincanada

I would love to try the recipe I have been expanding some 166% sour dough for a Nancy Silverton recipe and seem to have quite a bit of sourdough left.  Thanks

bakerincanada

holds99's picture
holds99

From my experience Rainbowbrown and PaddyL are right-on.  All breads should be completely cool before being placed into plastic bags for freezing.  If they're still warm when placed into the plastic bags and put into the freezer condensation forms on the inside of the bag which results in ice crystals forming on top of the loaves or pitas and the inside walls of the bag as they freeze, and can cause the crusts to become damp when thawed.  You minimize this by completely cooling the bread before bagging and freezing.  Some commercial bakeries (Sara Lee for example) "flash freeze" the products at some incredible below zero temp. to avoid this.  But you don't have that option with a home freezer so my suggestion is to let them completely cool before freezing.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

swtgran's picture
swtgran

bakerincanada, 

2 c. sourdough    I used a 1:2:2 by volume fed with unbleached AP flour.  1 1/2 c. white bread flour

Knead for 5 minutes, allow to sit for 8 hours , and then add:

1 tsp. salt,  1 1/2 tbs. sugar,  1 1/2 tbs. vegetable oil (next time I am using olive), 1 1/2 - 2 cups white bread flour.

Knead until smooth and elastic.  Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let double.  Form as many large egg-sized round balls as the dough will produce (6 or 7).  Cover and let them rest 5 to 10 minutes.  On a well floured board, starting with the first ball you made, use a roller to make flat rounds slightly less than 1/4-inch thick and 5 to 6 inches in diameter.  Keep them evenly rolled.  As the rounds are produced, flour each side LIGHTLY to prevent sticking.  I placed mine individually on a some parchment but non stick cookie sheets would work fine.  I then covered mine with some sprayed plastic wrap because I was afraid of them drying out and then a towel.  Let them rest from 30 min. to 1 hour.  Since my kitchen stays closer to 68, I let them rest about an hour.

Put an ungreased nonstick baking sheet or pizza stone in your oven and preheat to 500.  I used a pizza stone. 

Starting with the first ones rolled, transfer 2 rounds at a time to a pizza peel, (a baking sheet with no sides would work fine) to slide them onto the hot stone.  Sprinkle them with a touch of flour.  Then slide them onto the preheated pizza stone, with the help of a spatula, and bake them until they were puffed and just starting to take on some color, especially around the edges.  Don't walk away, this part goes really fast.  Besides it is fun to watch them immediately start puffing.  They will still be pretty pale in color when you take them out.  You don't want the bottoms to burn.  Remove them from the oven and cool on a wire rack. 

Be sure oven and baking sheet or stone have regained the 500 degree temperature between batches. 

As mentioned earlier, mine didn't seem like they were going to collapse.  Since I had read somewhere about putting them, while still warm, into a plastic bag, that is what I did after cooling slightly.  Then they went to a normal looking pita.  After they cooled completely we ate them.  I would transfer any leftovers to a new bag because of the condensation.

Next time I will use the paper bag idea. 

I got this recipe from a book by Donna Rathmell German and Ed Wood.  The mixing can also be done in a bread machine.

This was my first time making pita and every one of them puffed up perfectly.  I think that is because I let them rest for an hour before putting them in the oven.  I hope you have good luck with them. 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

When I first started making pitas, about half would rise like they should and some would try but not fully inflate. You mention above that you leave them to rest 30-60 minutes before baking. That is the secret to success. I had been shaping them and right into the oven. Ever since I started resting first, not a single dud. Great post!
Eric

caryn's picture
caryn

Coincidentally, I also made pita bread last weekend, and it also came out really well.  I have some pictures, but not on my work computer where I am writing from now. Perhaps I will upload them when I get home. 

I had made pita before, many years ago, but not with such good results.  I followed Peter Reinhart's formula in his whole grain bread book.  His instructions called for resting the pita as well, and they rose nicely and also deflated properly without my doing anything special.  I just left them on a baking rack when I took them out of the oven.

His formuala uses all whole wheat flour, and I was really thrilled with the results.  If you have never tried pita with all whole wheat, I really do recommend his formula.