Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sourdough Pita

Back in the day I seem to remember living not far from a wonderful Middle Eastern market. It was just beyond the limits of the Italian Market, so it was in good company. They had the tangiest Greek yogurt, the most flavorful Kalamata olives, the creamiest hummus and the absolute best, best, best pita bread. This pita was a work of art, it was large, twice as big as your basic super market pita and a beautiful irregular shape. It was super fresh and tender, but the bestest part was that this large, tender pita was smothered, totally smothered in zahtar. The first time I bit into that sour sumac pungency I was hooked for life. Unfortunately we moved and I've never come across a pita like it since.

Well, the February Sourdough Surprises has given me a chance to recreate this stellar pita.  And I think I finally had an epiphany as it regards my starter, like feed it then use it! I'm a slow learner and have to learn by doing. I can read directions till my face turns blue but once I do something a few times, I've got it. 

So this time I fed my starter, waited about an hour till it got goin and took out a good cupful. As you can see my dough doubled up no problem! Of course I could have really used this insight when I was making Babka Brioche instead of a flat bread! Hello learning curve...

Anyway, these were a big hit served warm from the oven with fresh hummus and Greek olives. They aren't exactly as I remember the ones from the old market but they're a good starting point for further experimentation.  

sourdough pita with zahtar

1 cup freshly fed sour dough starter (100% hydration)
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus some for brushing
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup zahtar 

In a stand mixer, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add oil to warm water and add along with starter to the flour mixture. Beat on low until everything comes together. Turn the speed on medium and beat for a minute or so. Turn the dough on to a clean surface and knead it a few turns, it should fell a bit tacky. Form a ball and place it into an oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a clean towel and put it in a warm, draft free place until it doubles in bulk, mine took about 3 hours. 

Turn out the dough and knead it briefly. Divide into 5 equal portions. Keep the dough balls covered as you roll one at a time, I found that I didn't need any additional flour. Roll out to roughly 5 or 6 inches, cover and let sit for an hour.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees and place a pizza stone or sheet pan on the lowest rack. Working one at a time, brush each pita with olive oil and sprinkle with zahtar. Carefully lift the pita, it may cling just a bit but will yield to a gentle touch, open the oven door and, again being very careful not to get burned or drop the pita, with one quick motion sort of toss it onto the hot stone. This takes a little practice, but it's worth the effort. Cook each pita for 4 or 5 minutes or until the bread has bubbled up and is lightly browned around the edges. 

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  1. Love your pita. I'm a little scared of the tossing onto your pizza stone though.

    1. Thanks Kelster! I was scared at first. But with baking, as with life, sometimes you have to be a little fearless, and it helps to practice!

  2. Dropping by from Sourdough Surprises~ Your sourdough pita looks delicious! Your pictures are gorgeous too:) So happy I found your wonderful blog~ Lynn H @ Turnips 2 Tangerines

  3. Oooh, that looks delicious with the hummus and the olives! It's making my mouth water.

  4. Oh my gosh, your pita looks so amazingly delicious. I love the seed mixture on top, too - I bet it was outstandingly good. Great choice!!

  5. Looks delicious! Zataar is always wonderful on homemade breads.

  6. Oh man these look awesome! I have never had zhatar, but I hear a lot about how awesome it is! I am going to have to find it and try it sometime! And your pita looks soo fantastic! Thanks for baking with us again this month!

  7. That looks so tempting with the olives & hummus! Nice job :-)

  8. Your description of that Middle Eastern market's pita had my mouth watering - I'm so glad you were able to recreate it at home! It looks totally wonderful with all those spices on top. YUM.

  9. What lovely pita! I love the seedy herbed top. Yum!

  10. I don't know why I've never thought to "smother" the top of flatbreads in zahtar. That would be delicious. I just want to reach through my computer screen for those pita!

  11. Oh wow, these look delicious. I am salivating at the though of these dunked in hummus. Will have to try some toppings on my pitas next time!