The Pita Chronicles

Yasar and I have been together for a little more than 10 years. And, for 10 years, I've dealt with discrimination from his fellow countrymen. You see, an American female walking into a Middle Eastern (and primarily muslim) grocery store is a prime target for all sorts of dishonesty. Yet, every second Thursday I gamely drive the 20 miles (one way) to the Halal Market in Dayton and buy the pita they had delivered from Detroit the day before. Or, maybe I should say I ask to buy the fresh pita...and the minute they hear my American accent they unload the week-old stuff on the stupid, Bush-voting, small-minded American woman. And it's not like you can call them on it, it all feels the same since they keep them all in the fridge, and I guess the Middle Eastern bakery in Detroit is above American standards and doesn't believe in putting "use by" dates on their products. Probably no more than the Halal Market feels the need to provide prices for their groceries. So yeah, I get stiffed every time I go down there, usually at both ends, with old product and inflated pricing. And the last time I went there, the cashier tried to shortchange me. No kidding. The bill was $5.75, I gave him a twenty and the change. He paused, probably praying to Allah for advance forgiveness, and gave me a $5 back.

So I hear you asking, why don't I just take Yasar with me when I go? Well, that used to work. After all, he looks the part. But apparently in the Middle East, your religion is reflected in your last name. So when the Muslims saw our credit card, they knew that Yasar wasn't "truly" one of them. And muslims tend to feel about the same about non-muslims as they do about Americans. Combine that with the fact that Yasar gets headaches whenever shopping (probably a hold-over from the old country), and it's just easier to go down there and play the American b*tch with the non-muslim last name.

Anyway, getting to my point. So I've spent the last few weeks test-driving recipes from the internet for pita bread. And, while I haven't yet made a pita quite like the Yasmeen Bakery, my boys are certainly enjoying my failures. I'm pleased to say that, after years of collecting dust in my pantry, my large Pampered Chef baking stone now has permanent residence in the oven. It's the perfect medium for puffing up those pitas in no time flat. And they're so goooood, straight out of the oven, still warm and soft. Today was my third try, and every recipe seems to be an improvement. And they were oh-so-darn-good paired up with some old-fashioned AMERICAN 3 Bean Salad.

Here it is:

2 packets yeast
1 cup warm water
3 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 cups warm water
6 cups AP flour
Bloom yeast for 10 minutes in 1 cup water and sugar. Add salt, and alternate flour and water. Mix well, then put your dough hook (or your hands, it's a great stress reliever) to it for 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary, until you have a smooth, soft dough. Put into an oiled bowl and let rise, loosely covered, for about an hour in a warm place. Punch down dough, let rise covered again for another half hour or so.

Preheat oven (with stone inside) to 450 degrees. Divide dough into lemon-sized balls. Roll out to 1/8th inch thickness, slap on hot stone for about 5 minutes (they should puff up like balloons, but still taste great if they don't). Enjoy straight out of the oven, cover the ones not being eaten with a slightly damp dishtowl to cool, then place in the fridge.

I can't even begin to give you price-per-serving. Between flour price fluctuations and serving size differences, it's kind of hard to judge. But this made 14 pitas for us, and really didn't take a whole lot of hands-on time. And the outcome, while not the Holy Grail of Pitas, is still pretty frickin' amazing.


  1. I think you should try it out in a gas oven, like one up here in South Bend. :)