Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pita Bread With Lamb


The amazing bread with pockets! I always suspected that the bakeries cut the pockets into the bread, but no, these bread do puff up and form deep pockets. These flatbreads of middle-eastern-hellenistic origins are not only easy to make, they taste great and are versatile in that you can put whatever in the pocket-- scrambled egg or a piece of crisp bacon, minced beef, cold chicken, canned tuna, curry--or use them to mop up your curries like you would naan. They are even healthier than naan since very little oil or shortening is used.



Pitas being proofed.

(Most of my cooking is done in the evening so the lighting is poor. The better pics are usually taken in the day and in my outdoor kitchen.)


My pitas always turn out too thin. The ones I saw at Lord Stow's in Macao were real chunky (and motherly) so you can make yours thicker if like.

Pita Bread

300g bread flour (or use wholemeal flour)
1 1/2 t dry yeast
180 ml water
1 t fine sugar
1/2 t salt
1 heaped t shortening/butter or 1/2 T oil (optional)

1. Put everything (make sure the yeast is active) in your mixer bowl and knead at low to medium speed for 8 min. Dough should be smooth and soft. Leave dough in the bowl, cover with a cloth for 1 hour to prove.

2. Take dough out and divide into 4 (for thicker pitas) or 6 balls . Dust work surface and rolling pin lightly and roll each ball into a 29cm or 8 in circle or an oblong of 20 cm/8 in and 5mm (or more for thicker pitas) and place them, spaced, on a flour-dusted tray. (You'll need two trays). Dust the tops with flour. Leave for 30 min to prove. 10 min before that, switch the oven on at 220 C. Needs to be very hot.

3. Put the tray in the middle rack and bake 4 to 5 min only. If the temperature is right, the bread will puff up by the 3rd or 4th minute. For thicker pitas, add another minute but watch that the bread does not brown. Give oven time to re-heat everytime you remove a tray or the next batch will not puff.

4. When bread has cooled, cut into half. Bread with pockets!

Suggested Filling:

Fry a good piece of lamb shoulder or leg, cut into slices, season with salt and pepper. Add some cuke, tomatoes or bell peppers and stuff into the pitas. You can add mayo or yogurt or mint jelly or cheese. A good lamb curry would be yummy. I'm sure you'll find more creative ways to fill the pockets.

Edit: I now prefer to make round pitas because they give a wider diameter so they are easier to stuff. I also find that my second batch of pitas are less sucessful, because I always forget to wait for the heat to go up again after removing the first batch.
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