My favorite smells in the entire world are…
~ vanilla-scented anything
~ coconut lotion
~ the first few drops of rain
~ fresh baked bread
Lately, I’ve been craving the bread smell more than anything else, but by the time I actually get around to pulling the ingredients off the shelves, it’s pretty late in the afternoon and my bread wouldn’t be ready until after I finish eating dinner. Although most days I wouldn’t mind eating warm-out-of-the-oven bread for dessert, I wanted this batch to be ready before the meal. To solve that problem, I turned to my baking cookbook, flipped through the pages, and stopped when I found a recipe that only required an hour for the bread to rise. Perfect!
That recipe was for pita bread. It looked relatively simple and required just a few ingredients, so I rolled up my sleeves and started kneading. I only realized after I baked and tasted the bread that the list omitted one key ingredient—salt. But watching the pockets puff up in the oven and then pairing them with some tasty homemade cranberry jam made the whole endeavor worthwhile!
based on a recipe from the essential baking cookbook
makes 12-16 pockets
Like I mentioned, the original recipe required no salt, so I approximated the amount necessary. It may take more, it may take less, but play around with it and feel free to salt the tops of the pockets before baking. They would also taste delicious with a sprinkling of rosemary on top before popping into the oven!
1 (¼ oz) packet of yeast
1½ c. warm water (100-110°)
1 tsp sugar
3½ – 4½ c. flour
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp salt
- Place water, yeast, and sugar in a bowl. Stir well and let sit for 10 min, or until bubbles appear on the surface and yeast begins to foam slightly.
- In the meantime, combine 3½ c. flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, and add olive oil and yeast water. Stir with a wooden spoon until all of the flour is incorporated. If dough is still really sticky, add more flour, a few tablespoons at a time.
- Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. Flour your hands and knead the bread for 5-10 min, or until dough springs back when you press your finger into it. Shape into a ball.
- Lightly oil a large bowl (or spray with olive oil cooking spray), place dough ball inside, and roll it around until completely covered with oil. Cover with a dishtowel and place in a warm spot to rise for 20 min, or until doubled in size.
- Spray 3 cookie sheets with cooking spray, and preheat oven to 500°.
- Punch down the bread on a well-floured surface. Divide into equally sized 12-16 dough balls. Roll each ball out into a ¼-inch thick circle using a rolling pin. Place on the prepared cookie sheet, and brush the top with water. Let the round rise for another 20 min.
- If tops have dried out, brush with more water. Bake for 5-7 min at 500°, or until pockets puff up and sides begin to turn a slight golden brown. Serve warm.
**Note: If not served fresh out of the oven, heat the pita bread in a convection toaster oven for one toast cycle. It warms them up and tastes excellent! (Keep the remaining pockets stored in the refrigerator in a sealed plastic bag.)