Further to the earlier posts about great pita bread at the Lebanese place Arbanus in Mercado Roma I decided to try making fried pita bread. I suspected the pita at Arbanus was fried both because of the size and shape and because the surface was mottled - something you don't get when you bake pita bread.
The result was brilliant! Better than we dreamed. Soft, doughy, fluffy, with a slightly charred taste that is just amazing.
Recipe (from All You Knead Is Bread - but white flour, rather than whole wheat and let rise several times during the day to develop flavour)
300 g white wheat flour (plain or strong, does not seem to matter much)
200 g water
1.5 g instant/3 g dry/6 g fresh yeast
6 g salt
extra flour for dusting
a tiny bit of high "smoke point" oil for frying
If you are using instant or fresh yeast, measure all the ingredients into a bowl and mix them into a ball. Turn the ball out onto the counter and knead for 10 minutes. Put the dough back in the bowl and cover with clingfilm, a shower hat or a tea towel. Let it rest for 1 hour.
If you are using dry yeast, measure the flour into a bowl and make a well. Measure in the yeast and pour in the water. Let it sit for 15 minutes to dissolve the yeast. Add the salt and then mix the ingredients into a ball. Turn the ball out onto the counter and knead for 10 minutes. Put the dough back in the bowl and cover with clingfilm, a shower hat or a tea towel. Let it rest for 1 hour.
Turn the dough out on to the counter and give it a good knead. Put it back in the bowl for 1 hour.
Do this again.
Alternatively, you can skip these two steps and go straight to taking the dough out of the bowl and dividing it up into 8 equal pieces. Let them rest for 5 minutes and then form them into tight balls.
Let the tight balls rest for 15 mintues and then, using a rolling pin, roll them into discs about 10 cm in diameter. Place each disk onto a well floured surface, flour the tops and cover them with a tea towel. Let them rest for 1 hour.
Heat a frying pan or a griddle to a very hot temperature and grease the surface with the tiniest bit of oil. Use a paper towel to do this so you don't put in too much oil. You don't want the pitas to be greasy.
Put the pitas in to the pan. They wont spread out, they will just sit there and begin to rise. Flip them after a minute or so and keep flipping them every minute or so for 3-4 minutes.
They will puff up if the pan is really hot! It's very very exciting.
Remove them from the pan when they are golden and mottled and a little bit singed and wrap them in a cloth until you are ready to use them.
At that point, cut of the top 10% and your pita will just open up! If it does not, just take a little knife and help it along.
Stuff it with felafel balls or tuna salad. Stuff it with cheese or peanut butter. It does not matter! They are so good you can just eat them as they are.