Regional youth prepared this recipe at the FFI Youth Retreat on April 25. (Adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook)
Preparation time: about 2 hours (most of which is rising time)
Yield: 6 larger (or 12 smaller) pocket breads
1 cup wrist temperature water
1 ½ tsp. (half a ¼ oz. packet) active dry yeast
1 Tbs. sugar or honey
1 tsp. salt
about 3 ½ cups flour (1 cup of it can be whole wheat)
Optional: 1 Tbs. Sesame seeds
A little oil for the dough
Extra flour for rolling out
Oil or cornmeal, for the baking tray
1) Place the water in a medium-sized bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes—it will become foamy.
2) Add sugar or honey and salt. Stir until everything dissolves.
3) Add 3 cups of flour, one cup at a time, mixing enthusiastically with a whisk. As the dough thickens, switch to a wooden spoon and, eventually, your hand. Knead the dough in the bowl for a few minutes, adding up to ½ cup more flour, as needed, to combat stickiness. When the dough is smooth, oil both the bowl and the top surface of the dough. Cover with a clean tea towel, and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in bulk.
4) Punch down the dough and transfer it to a clean, floured surface. Knead it for about 5 minutes, then divide it into either 6 or 12 pieces (depending on what sized pitas you want). Knead each little unit for a few minutes, then use a rolling pin to flatten it into a very thin circle. (Make sure there is plenty of flour underneath!) The diameter of each circle is unimportant, as long as it is no thicker than 1/8 inch. Let the circles rest for 30 minutes.
5) Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Place a baking tray in the oven for a minute or two, to heat it. Then brush it with oil—or dust it with cornmeal. Place as many circles on the tray as will fit without touching, and bake for just 6 to 8 minutes, or until puffed up and very lightly browned.
6) Remove from the oven, and wrap the breads in a clean, slightly damp tea towel, then place in a brown paper bag, closed up, for 15 minutes. This will keep the breads supple. (If you’d prefer the pita bread to be crisp and cracker-like, bake 10-12 minutes and simply cool on a rack.)