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Greek pita, easy to make at home! What makes souvlaki so unmistakable in the culinary landscape, aside from the exquisite grilled meat and tzatziki sauce, is of course the use of pita bread. The Greek pita bread resembles quite a lot the Arabic pitta bread, but unlike it the Greek version of pita is leavened. The pita bread is really soft and most important is flexible so that it can wrap as a gyros pita around the grilled meat and tzatziki or any other filling of choice. And one thing is really unique to the Greek pita bread: it is one of the easiest bread you can make at home.
In Greece people definitely love pita bread, it is pretty impossible having a BBQ without grilled pitas or even tzatziki. Although common practice is to get Greek pita from the store it is one of the easiest breads you can make at home. It requires very little waiting time and only a few basic ingredients you definitely hold in the pantry: flour, salt, water, milk, sugar, yeast and a bit of olive oil.
Once these ingredients are combined, the dough will need to rest in a warm place and double in size. It takes from 30 minutes up to 2 hours depending how warm your kitchen is. If you are in a bit of rush, there is a little trick to accelerate this process.
Whilst you mix the dough, switch on your oven on the lowest temperature setting for 10-15 minutes. Once the dough is ready, switch off the oven and place in the mixing bowl. The oven has the warmth necessary for the yeast to work and leaven the pita bread dough. Then you can go ahead and fry them.
This recipe is for the basic pita bread. Once you go ahead for such a lovely homemade treat, I would suggest you improvise a little. Do not hesitate to add fresh herbs, a few thyme or oregano leaves will give a special touch to the pitas. If you have flavoured salt, such as rosemary salt, add this instead of plain salt. It is a great addition and a very good match for your grilled meat.
If you plan to use the pita as bread for tzatziki or any other dips, definitely check your cupboards for spices and herbs. Other interesting ingredients are black sesame or poppy seeds in the dough. If, however, you forget whilst making them, do not worry, a light dusting of sweet paprika or the classic salt and oregano will still work wonders.
1. Get a large mixing bowl and combine flour, yeast, salt and sugar.
2. Knead the dough: start integrating the warm water, milk and extra virgin olive oil. Until you get a supple dough that easily comes away from the sides of the bowl.
3. Cover with a towel (some use a plastic wrap) and leave the dough in a warm place to rest and rise until it has doubled in size (20 minutes - 2 hours)
4. Once the pita bread dough has risen, lightly dust a surface and divide the dough in 6 pieces.
5. On the working surface and with the help of a rolling pin, roll out each dough ball in 20 cm rounds, approximately one inch thick (use extra flour if needed). Lightly score with a knife or pinch each pita with a fork.
6. Heat up a cast iron skillet, brush with a bit of olive oil and cook the pita bread on medium heat for 3 minutes each side.
7. If you prefer to cook it in the oven, remember to use a baking sheet to be placed inside the heated oven. Then cook for around 15 minutes.
8. If you really want to enjoy it, try it right away for your souvlaki or tzatziki or any other dip.
Making Greek pita at home is simple and fun. Our advice is to always cook a greater quantity than the real need, for various reasons.
First of all, because this is the Greek philosophy at the table, an old saying reports that "if it does not advance it is not enough". And this is good to remember every time you prepare a Greek table!
Secondly, we strongly advise you to prepare more pite than you need as it is very easy to keep them. Like all fresh bread, Greek pita bread is around 3 to 4 days old when stored at room temperature. In fact, it will only be necessary to warm up and the pitas will be like new.
But if you do not intend to consume the extra pitas produced within a few days, you can keep them in the freezer for some time. In this case, remember to put them in plastic bags to protect them from the cold of the freezer.