My expectations were low, people. I knew I'd be making Paul's recipe for pitta breads today because my husband had requested them to be my next bake.
The recipe is simple (relatively speaking), the accompanying picture is beautiful, but I wasn't feeling it. (It's this recipe, minus the seeds.) I WAS feeling brownies, but I was out of cocoa, thank god. Don't ever go on Weight Watchers if you ever want to eat a brownie again in your life because knowing how many calories and fat grams are in a simple homemade brownie is DISCONCERTING.
Anywho, I had apparently forgotten that I actually like pita bread and, two years ago, had had a great love affair with garlic pita bread dipped in olive oil. It was an odorous love affair, but a love affair all the same. So, when I started putting the dough together, my brain said, "Meh," but, honestly, dough is kind of fun, anyway, and the smell of the yeast began to make me more enthusiastic.
I opted to use the mixer for the mixing of the ingredients and the kneading. I feel like I get much better, more consistent results when I use the mixer for both tasks instead of my hands.
The dough, post-kneading:
The rescue hound (Dixie), post-kneading--she's a little neurotic and obsessed with watching sunlight:
I left the dough to rise in an oiled bowl, covered by a towel, as instructed, and went to the gym. I was also not enthusiastic about going to the gym, but I figured that all of these tasks for which I had no enthusiasm were good for my character. Seriously, my character is beyond reproach today. Don't reproach it.
I was very pleased to discover upon arriving home that 1.) our 10-month-old Newfoundland puppy, Michael, had not eaten my pitta dough and 2.) it had risen in my absence. Because my character is beyond reproach today, I felt it my duty, given that the dough was both present and rising, to give the rest of the pitta-baking process my best effort. (In other words, I paid attention to what I was doing instead of daydreaming about soft-serve DQ ice cream and future Dexter spin-offs.)
When the dough has risen, the next steps are to divvy it up into 6-8 equal parts (I wasn't great at the "equal" aspect of it), shape the sections into balls, and roll each ball out into an oval shape. When rolling them out, I discovered that I was terrible at rolling them out, but, because my character is beyond reproach today, I persevered.
I would like to be able to tell you that all of my ovals were very similar in shape and size, but I would be lying if I told you that. And I can't lie today--I think you know why. If I were on the Great British Bake Off, I'd get seriously dinged for lack of consistency in pitta appearance, but I'm not on the show, which means that we can all learn to live with this minor disappointment.
Michael helped me roll out the pittas. I said, "You're kind of in my way, Michael," and he said, "I consider that more of a you problem than a me problem."
I ended up with four pittas per baking sheet for a total of eight pittas.
They're supposed to bake at 425 degrees (220 Celcius) for 5-10 minutes, and one is supposed to remove them from the oven as soon as they show any color. BUT, they never showed any color on the top . . . so I waited and waited and waited. Finally, I pulled the first sheet out at 10 minutes and realized that they had plenty of color on the bottoms (but not too much). They were so puffy and lovely!
The color on the bottom was quite beautiful, I thought.
The second batch came out much like the first, except a little lighter in color on the bottom.
We waited only long enough to ensure that we didn't burn our hands or tongues before trying them, and, oh. my. lord. They were SPECTACULAR. "It's like going to a movie that turns out to be WAY better than you thought it would be," is what I said about them on Facebook. I dipped a warm pitta in delicious olive oil and ate the whole thing in under a minute. My husband smeared his with hummus and ate a couple of them just as quickly. They have turned out to be the best baked food I've ever made, and I do not say those words lightly. If you bake nothing else in the next year, bake these. We all DESERVE these warm homemade pitta breads, and do you know why?