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Soft and light, Arabic Pita Bread or Greek Pita is a truly versatile round and flat bread. It has a delicious aroma of wheat, due to the use of wholemeal flour. It’s the “symbol” bread of the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and some Mediterranean countries such as Greece.
The Arabic Pita Bread is used to be dipped in sauces such as Baba Ganush, or Hummus or stuffed with different ingredients to create sandwiches. The best known are certainly the Turkish Kebabs and Kofte, the Greek Gyros and the Egyptian Falafel.
History and Origins of Arabic Pita Bread
The first forms of Pita Bread date back to 10,000 years ago in the area of Mesopotamia, where the first bread-making recipes in history come from. It was a product particularly appreciated by the populations of the desert and was transported by merchants who crossed the Sahara desert, facilitating its spread. It’s a flat and round bread and at the time it didn’t include the pocket that we know well today.
The name pita doesn’t have a precise derivation, also because it’s a word that is found in several languages. In the modern Greek language, the name Pita also means cake or sweet and is thought to derive from the ancient Greek word pēktos which means “thick”. But there are words that could be at the origin of the name of this bread in the Aramaic, Hebrew, ancient Romanian languages and also in Italian, the term “pìda” is found from where the term “piadina” is derived.
The original Arabic Pita Bread is cooked in large stone ovens usually underground. They have a temperature of about 370 ° C. The future loaves are applied on the walls of the ovens and cook in a short time, inflating like balloons. Once cooked they are removed from the oven and stacked, here the steam tends to escape and return flat but keeping the inner bag.
Advice on the Preparation of Pita
Although the recipes from different countries have very few differences between them, we can find flat and thin pitas usually more in Arab countries and those with a dense and thicker dough like Greek Pita.
The Arabic Pita Bread are cooked at a very high temperature. On the web I found two ways to cook themat home, one is in a pan and the other in the oven. I chose to propose you the second one because the temperature is constant and in a certain sense more delicate. I tried to make a couple of them in a pan but it’s more difficult to control the temperature and consequently the cooking.
If you have the possibility, use a smooth plate or cast iron skillet or baking stone. These two materials are perfect for cooking at high temperatures and keep it stable.
If the temperature of the oven and the pan are very high, they will inflate evenly, otherwise they may inflate partially or don’t inflate at all. So take time to heat the oven with the pan you have chosen to use.
Since Arabic Pita Bread is a flat bread it will tend to dry out quickly so I recommend consuming it within a couple of days. Or you can store it in a plastic bag that will retain moisture or you can freeze them. When it’s time to consume them, you can put them in the microwave or in the oven.
Arabic Pita Bread – Baked Pita
- 300 g Pastry Flour
- 100 g Whole-Wheat Flour
- 250 g Water warm
- 25 g Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 11 g Sugar Cane demerara
- 7 g Instant Yeast
- 4 g Salt
Dough and Rising
- Weigh all the ingredients.
- In a bowl, put the yeast, sugar and warm water. Stir and let it sit for at least 10 minutes to activate the yeasts.
- In a larger bowl, add all the ingredients and start kneading.
- Obtained a homogeneous and elastic dough, put it to rise in the bowl covered with cling film for 1 hour or until doubled.
Preparation and Cooking
- Heat the oven to 220 ° C on ventilated (if you have the possibility to 250 ° C). Inside the oven put the pan so that it heats up, I used a cast iron pan.
- Divide the dough into 12 balls. Lightly flour the work surface and start rolling out each ball until it reaches a diameter of about 18/20 cm.
- Put the pita to cook on the pan or in the pan according to what you have chosen, for 5/6 minutes (if the oven is higher than 220 ° C, cook for 4/5 minutes). Repeat for each pita.
- Serve them stuffed or as an accompaniment.
The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for the advice of a professional nutritionist.