Scratch Pitta Breads

Culinary genius? Or just bloody minded?
Observe below and weep. (Recipe below)

Homemade TapasIt might be simple, but isn’t that the point of tapas?

This is a garlic trio of tastiness, the hummus so garlicky that it’s hot; the olives unexotic types but dressed in garlic and lemon zest olive oil (good olive oil at that); the pittas made with garlic oil, and every few bites accompanied by an intake of lemon zest and a chilli flake sting on the tip of the tongue.

Scratch Pitta Bread
Take 300g strong white flour, 200g plain white flour, a level tsp salt, a couple of tblsp garlic oil, and mix.

Add around 350ml luke warm water, some of which should contain 1tblsp dried yeast/ 1 sq cm fresh yeast, melted into the water with a dessertspoon of caster sugar and covered briefly in a warmish place, to start off its chemical actions.

The dough should be loose and soft. Knead it for a few seconds only, then cover and leave in a warm place for 10 minutes or so. (Doesn’t matter if you leave it a few minutes longer). My warm place for the bowl is leaning it against the hot radiator, covered with a clean tea towel.

Pour a ten pence sized pool of EVOO on the work surface and spread it around. Tip the sticky dough onto the surface and knead lightly for about 10 seconds. Scrape it back into the bowl, grate the zest of 1 lemon into the bowl and return it to the warm place, covered.

Repeat the above, ensuring that the lemon zest is incorporated into the dough. This time sprinkle a few chilli flakes over the dough and return to the warm place. Know this: chilli bites! Be tight.

Leave the dough for 30 minutes this time. By the time I returned to it, the dough had tripled in size.

Put the oven on, to a temperature of around 230-250 deg C and enshelve a clean baking tray. This heats up the tray so that the pittas are exposed to heat from every angle.

Tip the monstrous blob out of the bowl, onto a floury surface, and rip out around 8-10 chunks; they should weigh around 100g each (I have an unhealthy fascination with my newish digital kitchen scales, so this was no problem for me, but you’re talking about the size of an average McDonald’s burger bun). Roll them into balls and leave, covered, for about 15 minutes.

The oven should be hot enough after than, so *roll out the pittas, two at a time, on a worksurface thick with flour snow (trust me on this). They need to be around 5mm thick, no more.

Leave them for another couple of minutes, then get them carefully off the surface (if they can stick, they will stick) and onto the baking tray. Keep the heat in the oven by taking out the tray and closing the door immediately. It’s hard to pick up the pittas with only one hand anyway.

Slam them in the oven and roll out the next two. They need around 3-5 minutes in there, no more. They’ll inflate like food balloons, lightly browned on one side, and soft and white on the bottom. Keep repeating from * until there are no more doughballs to roller.

Tear off, rip up and smother in hummus, one bite a soft medley of different garlic flavours, the next an amendment of bitter olive richness.

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