Thursday, July 10, 2008

Greek Week Day 4: Envelope Bread

Ok, so you've all heard of pita bread. Or as the book spells it, Peta Bread. I grew up when peta/pita bread was ubiquitous. All the little girls in my brownie troop would show up for lunch with their pita pockets stuffed with egg salad or tuna salad. I of course being the middle kid of 6 would show up with my whatever-was-cheapest white bread stuffed with peanut butter and jelly. I envied those other little brownies with their pita pockets.

Interesting enough, when I was on my own and could buy my own pita bread, I grew tired of it pretty quick. There was one major design flaw. The bottoms would crack and all the fixings of my sandwiches would end up in a puddle on my plate. It's been a long time since I've had a pita pocket. Partly because they aren't too easy to find around here. So when I saw the recipe in The Complete Guide to Greek Cooking, I knew immediately I was going to give it a shot.

Now, homemade bread is always better than store bought bread, but the difference here is amazing! I did have to cut open the pocket, but the bottoms of the bread aren't cracking. The recipe calls for the bread to be wrapped immediately in foil after coming out of the oven to cool. I think this is what helps it stay so nice and soft. Mine has a little crust, but I couldn't sit there and wait for the bread to cool. I have poor impulse control sometimes. This bread is also slightly chewy, and has a great yeasty, salty flavor to it.
Greek cooking is apparently based on fresh local ingredients. That's why there's so much seafood and olive oil. I decided to follow along and stuffed my peta with some slices of cucumber, and slices of turnip from my garden. Hummus or Tahini would have been nice in there too. And I served it with an assortment of lettuces from my garden, dressed simply in lemon juice and olive oil and tossed with feta and fresh cracked black pepper. It's so good I don't really mind that it's super healthy.

Envelope Bread (Peta Bread)

1 package active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar

In a mixing bowl, combine yeast with 1 1/2 cups of flour. Combine water, oil, salt, and sugar and add to yeast mixture. Beat for 1/2 minute with an electric mixer at low speed; then beat for 3 minutes at high speed. Work in remaining flour by hand to form a smooth and elastic dough. Put in a greased bowl in a warm spot, cover, and let rise for 45 minutes. Punch dough down, divide into 12 pieces, and roll each into a ball. Let rest for 10 minutes.Flatten each ball into a 5-inch circle. Place on a greased baking sheet; cover and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bake for 9 or 10 minutes, until puffed and lightly browned on bottom. Immediately wrap in foil and cool.


Peter M said...

Well, I guess the folks of St. Paul's spelled it the way it sounded.

You've made a convenient little bread that wraps goodies nicely.

Deborah said...

I haven't had pita bread in years. I always had the same problem as you with the cracking. I can imagine how much better this is homemade!

Johanna said...

that bread looks really good - I go through stages of pita bread - I live in a middle eastern area of Melbourne where it is everywhere - I really want to bake some but you also remind me I shouldn't take all the good bread around us for granted (oh and I was one of 7 children so I know what you mean about turning up to lunches like the poor cousin)