Last year, as some of you may remember, I declared Food Friendly May and spent the month writing about food and cooking. It seemed a popular concept with readers, so I’ve decided to make it an annual event. For the rest of the month, expect me to post recipes, discussions of good (or scarily bad) food, memories of meals past, and reviews of cookbooks and cooking ware.
After all, a girl’s gotta eat, and she might as well enjoy the heck out of it.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine started threatening to try her hand at making gyros. This is a treat I happen to be particularly fond of, so unladylike drooling commenced in a big way. In a moment of madness, I said that if she did that, she could count on me to make the pita bread.
As many of you know from reading my posts, baking is my favorite form of cooking. For the most part, though, I tend to bake sweet things: pies, cakes, cookies, etc. I enjoy bread making, but haven’t ventured far from a traditional white loaf and the occasional batch of biscuits. Why? I’m really not sure. Still, most of my experiments in bread making have been at least reasonably successful, so I figured I probably couldn’t muck up pita too badly.
Guess what? Pita bread isn’t difficult to make at all. The biggest investment was time. The only ingredient I didn’t have on hand when I decided to make the bread was yeast, which was easily available at the corner market. I will admit the pockets didn’t form properly, but there was a knife handy to cut our own. More importantly, the bread turned out tasty and a beautiful texture. Filled with homemade gyros and tzatziki, it was a meal to be reckoned with. For dessert, we had fresh fruit (pears and seedless red grapes, yum) and cheese (stilton and a good, creamy chevre). Delicious and satisfying.
Flour, yeast, sugar (or honey, if preferred), salt, water, and olive oil. That’s it. That’s all you need in your cupboard. It does take somewhere in the neighborhood of three hours to make, but more than half of that is rising and resting the dough, so you can do other things for much of that time.
Directions? Well, I think the best thing is just to point you all at the ones I used to make mine. The directions are so clear, I think nearly anyone could follow them successfully. They have the novice baker in mind, but don’t talk down. If you already understand the process, you can skip the theory parts, but they’re interesting if you don’t know the chemistry behind bread baking.
If you want to try your hand at bread making, or if you’ve already done ordinary loaves and are looking for a different sort of bread to make, pita is a great thing to try out.
As for me, now I want to experiment with it. Different flours, hints of herbs and spices…I want to play with my dough. But maybe this time I’ll cut my fingernails a bit first. Long nails and sticky dough make for some interesting hand scrubbing later on.