The best pita bread, because it’s BBQ time!

During my bread demo given to some of my friends, I have made these pita pockets and they were gone before the dips were finished and before I finished the presentation. I was asked to share the recipe so here we go!
Today we’ll talk about keeping bread dough in the fridge for more than 12 hours (in previous recipes,
I’ve used ½ of the dough that was kept in the fridge to make a new bread dough), which comes down to the pre-ferment method and its benefits especially on the final taste and texture of the bread.
As a bonus, I’ll share with you a good recipe for Pita bread or as we call in Morocco (Matloue/Batbout). They’re soft and aromatic due to the way the dough has been handled.

When making bread, I usually follow the pre-ferment method but I’ve never done it for pita/batbout bread.  
The fridge allows a slow fermentation which allows the flour to release some sort of sweet and cream note. You also don’t get hit by the taste of yeast which is a good thing (compare this versus the industry-made breads).
So the benefits of keeping the dough in the fridge:

  • Rich taste you won’t get in a fast proofing condition.
  • Having freshly made pitas everyday: yes! Just shape, wait 20 min or so and cook.
  • Soft and airy texture.

Today I give you the best pita bread I’ve ever made! On the other hand, the pictures look poor because I made these at night..not much of a light there in my kitchen!
I’m submitting this to Susan’s yeastspotting.
Makes about 15 medium size pita pockets
Prep: 50 min – Proofing: 12 hours minimun -Cooking: 2 min/pita, roughly

  • 850g + 50 g of strong flour or normal bread flour (labels are different from a country to another)
  • 2 tsp of instant dry yeast (double if using fresh yeast) 
  • 4 tsp of salt
  • 60g of olive oil 
  • About 600ml water depending on the flour’s absorption

In a large bowl, combine flour (keep about 4 tablespoons on the side) with salt, then add the yeast. Make a well, pour the olive oil and water and start mixing from the centre with the hand or with a wooden spoon, gathering flour towards the centre to form a dough as you go.  
Transfer to a floured work surface and start kneading and folding for about 5 or 6 minutes until it forms a soft ball. You may add the flour left on the side if you really have to.
Cover the dough with the bowl and let it “rest” for about 20 min which will soften and relax the gluten and it will be easier to work.

Knead the dough for another 5 to 10 minutes or until it becomes soft and smooth and barely sticky to the touch.

Note: If you want the pita to to inflate, the dough should stay hydrated and slithly tacky but not sticky which is why you shouldn’t be tempted to add too much flour while you are kneading the dough. Use a dough scraper as an alternative.

Transfer the dough in a large lightly oiled bowl and brush the surface of the dough with a little oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let proof for 12 hours in the refrigerator but ideally 24 hours. 

MAKE SURE TO DEFLATE it at least twice during the first three hours simply by pushing it gently with the palm of the hand. This will prevent the gluten network from breaking due to those big bubbles that will be formed. 

The dough can be kept up to 2 days in the fridge before being flattened. So you can use only one portion and keep the rest to make fresh pitas the following days .

Shaping and cooking 
Transfer the dough on a lightly floured surface. Divide into 13 to 15 pieces of the same weight (80-100g). Shape each piece of dough into a ball while keeping others covered with a clean kitchen cloth.

Gently flatten the dough ball with the palm of your hand and then with a rolling pin to form a rather oval disc, about 4 to 6 mm thick as a maximum. 
To make sure the dough doesn’t stick (which won’t give you pockets while cooking),  return each pita 2 or 3 times during the rolling process: Also, to shape it properly, you need to give 1/4 turn to the dough while you are flattening it with the pin.

Place each rolled pita on a slightly floured kitchen towel and repeat the process. Keep the pitas covered for 15 min to rest but not “rise”.
Preheat a cast iron skillet or a griddle over medium high heat and grease it lightly with oil. 
Brush any excess of flour on the pita and cook for a few seconds until you see appearing a few bubbles. Immediately flip the pita.  
The pita will inflate like a balloon. Flip again and cook for a few seconds until you start seeing some brown spots. You shouldn’t not exceed 2 minutes per pita.

Pile the pitas in a stack and keep them covered at all times.

Note: I use the same dough to make pizzas. It’s worth trying..

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