I love home made bread. I think there is nothing better than the smell of freshly baked bread in the house, at any time of the day. Maybe not many of you know, but some of the best bakers in Milan are actually of Arab origin. And they make fantastic bread. One of my favourite has always been pita, which we simply call “panino arabo” (literally Arab bread). I loved it because it was ever so slightly crusty on the outside, yet so soft and chewy on the inside… just writing about it makes me hungry. Since I started blogging, I have attempted lots of new recipes, I can say I have become more self confident in my cooking skills and I now dare much more. So, why not try to make my favourite bread at home? And in an attempt to eat healthier food, I decided to make a whole meal pita. I was shocked to learn that making pita is actually quite easy. I cooked mine on a pizza stone, but it can also been done on regular baking sheets. The following recipe will make the most delicious pita you have ever eaten and it is perfect as a base for any kind of sandwich or to eat with home made hummus.
Recipe adapted from The Galley Gourmet
Ingredients: (makes approximately 12 pitas)
2 tbsp honey
2 cups lukewarm water
2 x 1/4-ounce (2 x 7gms) packages active dry yeast
3 cups (375 gms) all-purpose flour
3 cups (360 gms) whole meal flour
1 tbsp salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 2 tbsp for coating
Now add both types of flour, salt and the 1/4 cup oil.
Knead on low speed until the mixture is smooth and elastic, adding the remaining 1 cup of lukewarm water a tablespoon at a time as needed. Keep in mind that the dough has to be soft and slightly sticky. Increase the speed to medium and knead for 4-5 minutes. When ready, transfer the dough on a benchtop sprinkled with flour and shape into a ball.
Coat it with 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and put it back in the mixer bowl.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size (it will take about 1 hour).
Gently deflate the dough by pressing it with your hands and let it rest for 20 minutes.
Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide it into 12 pieces and shape each piece into a ball.
Roll each ball into a 1/8-inch (0.3 cm) thick circle, about 7-inches (17.5 cm) in diameter.
Remember to keep the remaining balls of dough covered with a sheet of plastic wrap. Put the cricles on a large baking sheet without overlapping them and cover them with a lightly damp towel. Let them rise for 1 hour until puffy.
Bake in a pre heated oven at 500º F (260º C, or the maximum temperature your oven allows if less than 260º C). I have used my pizza stones and have put the pita directly on the stones. They cooked perfectly and puffed up nicely without having to even turn them over. You can also bake them on baking sheets for about 5 minutes. Take the pitas out of the oven and stack them 3 or 4 at a time and wrap them in clean kitchen towels.
Serve immediately or let them cool down to room temperature.
Well wrapped pitas can be kept for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Enjoy!
On a completely different note, I would like to thank the very very talented Jay from Tasty Appetite for awarding Manu’s Menu with the Versatile Blogger Award
and the Hundred Hearts Award
THANK YOU so much Jay from Tasty Appetite!! I am honoured! And please, stop by her wonderful site and browse through all her mouthwatering recipes… she recently made a killer Masala Dosa that I absolutely MUST try!
I also want to thank Paolo from Quatro Fromaggio for awarding Manu’s Menu with the Cannolo Award – an all-new award that Paolo created to award bloggers that preserve authentic Italian food.
As Paolo says, this award should “only be given to Authentic Italian Food Bloggers by another authentic Italian food blogger. Everyone blogging about authentic Italian food is eligible for the Cannolo award, not just those who were born in Italy.”
I am very honoured to receive this award. I am always happy to be given awards (who isn’t?), but this is a special one for me. Italians are very jealous of their cuisine as it is a very important part of our life and culture. Living abroad, it can be hard to preserve our traditions, especially since we cannot always find the ingredients we need. We also see many “Italian” dishes completely distorted and made into something they shouldn’t be. And it can at times get frustrating. I know I have said this many times, but you will never know what Italian food is, unless you eat it in Italy. I am not against experimenting or innovation… but I also think that people too often use the term “Italian” without a precise knowledge of what that means. Some Italian dishes are very specific, very traditional… and they should be called that specific name only if they are made in that specific way and with those ingredients. I am not saying that the “other” dish is not tasty… I am saying it should just be given a different name. As I have already said, I very rarely eat at Italian restaurants outside Italy as I have (never?) encountered a good/original place. The only dish I eat out is pizza, and that too in very few and specific restaurants. Italians can easily tell when a restaurant is really Italian, just by reading the menu. As a general tip… if they have pasta, pizza or risotto with chicken, you can be almost sure that the chef is not Italian. In Italy chicken is not eaten in any of those dishes. The second thing I check is spelling… spelling mistakes = not Italian… but that’s harder to spot if you don’t know the language.
Anyhow… enough blathering… I don’t want to bore you!! If you are interested, I have some info on “original” pizza toppings here. And please, check out Paolo’s blog for more info on misconceptions about Italian food. I truly admire his work and I agree with his philosophy and with what he is trying to achieve! Bravo Paolo e grazie mille per il Cannolo Award!!!!