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Author Notes: Most people think that pita bread/Arabic bread, khebez as we call in in Arabic, is hard to emulate at home, but this recipe will completely change that thought. Fortunately, it is surprisingly easier than you might imagine and no special bread baking skills are involved. The recipe is straight forward and takes less than 1 hour from start to finish. The dough takes 30 minutes to rise and 5-8 minutes to bake. Making bread by hand is really therapeutic and gives you a sense of achievement. —Hadia Zbib Khanafer
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- In a bowl, sift the flour and add salt.
- In a large bowl, mix the active dry yeast, sugar and ¼ cup of lukewarm water (save the rest of water for kneading), let it sit for 5-8 minutes, or until yeast becomes frothy.
- Add the flour to the dissolved yeast, and slowly add the remaining water. Knead the dough with your hands or a stand mixer, (I prefer the hand method) until you have malleable dough of one texture. Add a small amount of flour, as needed, to keep the dough from sticking to your hands. Knead and beat the dough for further 5 more minutes (the dough has to be kneaded and kneaded well; it has to be considerably wet but definitely dryer than a batter). For better results, slam the dough a couple of times. This will help the gluten to develop and the texture will become fluffier.
- Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let it sit for 20-25 minutes to double in size.
- Preheat the oven to 230 °C /450°F.
- When the dough has doubled in size, sprinkle some flour on a countertop and knock it back; divide it into 8 even-sized portions and gather each into a ball. Cover with a kitchen towel, and set aside to rest for 15 minutes.
- On a floured countertop, stretch each ball, using a rolling pin, into a circle about 8 inches/ 20 cm in diameter and a bit less than ¼ inch thick. Make sure to roll it into a pretty circle with no incisions or torn dough to keep from creating a weak point that may prevent the pita from puffing up
- Preheat the sheet pan before lining it with parchment paper and delicately transfer one dough round at a time onto the parchment lined sheet pan.
- Bake about 6- 8 minutes, until the dough is puffed up and baked to pale golden; they bake very fast. Happy eating!!
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