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Pita Bread

Believe it or not, pita is a Hebrew word. This bread has been changed in various countries and has even been modified into pizza! Pita is traditionally made from white flour, although whole-wheat pitas are also sold.
In Israel, there are 2 types of pita, the puffy kind you find in the United States, and a flatbread similar to Armenian lavash. The latter is baked in a large barrel-shaped oven, in which the fire is at the bottom of a pit and the dough is slapped against the walls for a few seconds to cook. To get the same effect, bake the pita on a very hot griddle or in a dry red-hot skillet.

ingredients

makes 25
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

method

1. Combine the yeast and sugar in a bowl with half the water, and leave in a warm place, lightly covered, until the yeast foams, about 20 minutes.

2. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and gradually add the yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon while adding the rest of the water to form a stiff dough. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic and no longer sticks to the bowl or your fingers, about 10 minutes. Divide dough into 25 equal-size pieces and let pieces rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.

3. Roll out each piece of dough on a floured board to form a thin round. Sprinkle lightly with more flour and let rise for 1 hour.

4. Flatten rounds and roll out again. Let them rise for another 30 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 500°F. Bake in batches, each about 10 minutes; they will puff up but will flatten immediately when removed from oven. They should only be allowed to brown slightly.

Never throw away stale pita (unless it has gone moldy). Sprinkle it with water and cut it into strips, then bake it for 15 minutes in a very cool oven, about 300°F. It will then be crisp as zwieback, and can be used in the same way. Incidentally, pita is especially delicious for dipping in a fondue because it is all crust.

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