A well-hydrated dough and a preheated baking stone ensure that our pita has a hollow interior perfect for stuffing.
MAKES eight 8-inch pitas VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Pita breads vary dramatically depending on the region of the world where they’re made. The thin, wheaty versions, often called Arabic bread, hail from all over the Middle East. We’re partial to Greek-style pita, which has a pillowy interior ideal for sopping up sauces and dips, and a structure strong enough to support savory sandwich ingredients like Falafel or Grilled Chicken Souvlaki . To create a light crumb with substantial chew we turned to bread flour, but even though this pita was light, it was also tough. Increasing the amount of olive oil in the dough from 1 tablespoon to a generous ¼ cup tenderized the crumb nicely. While traditional Greek pita doesn’t always have a pocket meant for stuffing (it’s often held like a taco and wrapped around sandwich fixings), we felt that our pita was lacking without it. The tricks to getting the dough to puff up during baking and create this open pocket were a well-hydrated dough and a hot oven: We preheated a baking stone in a 500-degree oven; as soon as the dough hit the hot stone, the top and bottom exteriors began to set. Meanwhile, all that water in the dough turned to a cloud of steam inside, creating pressure outward. The exterior maintained its shape without stretching, and the steam inflated the dough into a balloon, creating the perfect pocket. Our favorite baking stone from Old Stone Oven measures 16½ by 14½ inches. If you have a smaller baking stone, you may need to bake the pitas individually. Pitas can be stored in a zipper-lock bag at room temperature for up to five days.
3⅔ cups (20⅛ ounces) bread flour
2½ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1⅓ cups water, room temperature
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2½ teaspoons sugar
1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk water, oil, and sugar together in 4-cup liquid measuring cup until sugar has dissolved.
2. Using dough hook on low speed, slowly add water mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl, about 8 minutes.
3. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in lightly
greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, 1 to 1½ hours.
4. Press down on dough to deflate. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and divide into quarters, then cut each quarter into halves (about 4 ounces each); cover loosely with greased plastic.
5. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time (keep remaining pieces covered), form into rough ball by stretching dough around your thumbs and pinching edges together so that top is smooth.
6. Generously coat 1 dough ball with flour and place on well-floured counter. Press and roll into 8-inch round of even thickness and cover loosely with greased plastic. (If dough resists stretching, let it relax for 10 to 20 minutes before trying to stretch it again.) Repeat with remaining balls. Let dough rounds rest for 20 minutes.
7. One hour before baking, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Gently transfer 2 dough rounds to well-floured pizza peel. Slide rounds onto stone and bake until single air pocket is just beginning to form, about 1 minute.
8. Working quickly, flip pitas using metal spatula and continue to bake until light golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer pitas to plate and cover with dish towel. Repeat with remaining dough rounds in 3 batches, allowing oven to reheat for 5 minutes after each batch. Let pitas cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Shaping and Baking Pita
1. Form dough into rough ball by stretching it around your thumbs and pinching edges together so that top is smooth.
2.Press and roll balls into 8-inch rounds of even thickness and cover loosely with greased plastic; let rounds rest for 20 minutes.
3.Transfer 2 dough rounds to well-floured pizza peel. Slide rounds onto stone and bake until single air pocket is just beginning to form.
4.Flip pitas and continue to bake until light golden brown; transfer to plate. Repeat with remaining dough rounds in 3 batches.
MAKES five 6-inch flatbreads, serving 4 to 6 FAST VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Socca is a savory flatbread made with chickpea flour that is popular in southern France. The loose, pancakelike batter comes together in less than a minute—simply whisk together chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Traditionally the batter is poured into a cast-iron skillet and baked in a wood-burning oven to make a large socca with a blistered top and a smoky flavor. But in a home oven this technique produced socca that was dry and limp. So we ditched the oven for the more direct heat of the stovetop, which gave us crisp, golden-brown socca. But flipping the skillet-size socca wasn’t as easy as we’d hoped. We solved this problem by making several smaller flatbreads instead. As a bonus, the smaller flatbreads had a higher ratio of crunchy crust to tender interior. To complement our savory flatbreads, we came up with a couple of flavorful toppings. Chickpea flour is also sold as garbanzo bean flour or ceci flour and is available in most well-stocked supermarkets. Serve with Tzatziki or Muhammara , if desired.
1½ cups (6¾ ounces) chickpea flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1½ cups water
6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. Whisk chickpea flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric together in bowl. Slowly whisk in water and 3 tablespoons oil until combined and smooth.
2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add ½ cup batter to skillet, tilting skillet to coat bottom evenly. Reduce heat to medium and cook until crisp at edges and golden brown on bottom, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip socca and continue to cook until second side is browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to wire rack in oven and repeat with remaining oil and batter. Slice and serve.
Socca with Swiss Chard, Pistachios, and Apricots FAST VEG
Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add 1 finely chopped onion and cook until
softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 minced garlic cloves, ¾ teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon allspice and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in 12 ounces Swiss chard, stemmed and chopped, and 3 tablespoons finely chopped dried apricots and cook until chard is wilted, 4 to 6 minutes. Off heat, stir in 2 tablespoons finely chopped toasted pistachios and 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top each cooked socca with ⅓ cup chard mixture before slicing and serving.
Socca with Caramelized Onions and Rosemary VEG
Substitute 1½ teaspoons minced fresh rosemary for turmeric in socca batter. Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add 3 onions, halved and sliced thin, ½ teaspoon light brown sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to soften and release some moisture, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring often, until onions are well caramelized, 30 to 35 minutes. (If onions are sizzling or scorching, reduce heat. If onions are not browning after 15 to 20 minutes, increase heat.) Off heat, stir in 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top each cooked socca with 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan and scant ¼ cup onion mixture before slicing and serving.