A pile of perfect pitas, hot out of the oven
Makes 8 pitas
• 1 package dry yeast
• 1 teaspoon honey
• 1 1/2 cups warm water
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 3 tablespoons olive oil (flavored if you like with rosemary, sage, or thyme)
• 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
• 1 1/2 to 2 cups unbleached white flour
1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yeast, honey, and water. Add the salt and oil. Add the whole wheat flour, stirring vigorously for 3 minutes. Gradually add and stir in enough white flour to make a soft dough that pulls away from the side of the bowl.
2. Knead the dough on a lightly floured work surface for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic, using only enough additional flour to keep the dough from sticking. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover it, and let it rest in a warm place for 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size.
3. Preheat the oven to at least 500°F with a pizza stone or oiled baking sheet on the lowest rack. Punch down the dough and cut it into eight pieces. Shape each into a smooth, round ball with no creases and cover again.
4. Flatten two balls into disks, then roll them out with a rolling pin until each is 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, keeping the other pieces of dough covered. Using a cornmeal-covered peel or spatula, slide the two pitas onto the pizza stone or baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Don’t open the oven door during baking. Place the baked pitas into a paper bag to keep them soft while they cool. Repeat these steps until all eight pitas have been baked.
5. Store cooled pitas in a plastic bag at room temperature or freeze them for longer storage.
Culinary herbalist Debbie Whittaker writes and lectures on gourmet herbal cuisine from her home in Denver, Colorado.
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