Guest Blog Post by Elisheva Avital
I am a fairly skilled home cook, but baking has never been my thing. I tend to do much better when I can wing a recipe. This year, for the first time, I made a small Mimouna after Pesach. This is an old Moroccan tradition to throw a typically loud, fun, open-house party on the night Pesach ends. The main food served at this party is called Moufletta, which is a cross between a crepe and a flat-bread. My poor, deprived husband has been telling me about this for years, and he hasn’t had this taste of home since he emigrated to America at 16. The stories always made it seem like a burden to do this right after cleaning up from Pesach, but we had so much fun doing it!
This is the Avital family method: (we halved this recipe.)
Mix all ingredients. Let dough sit for 20 minutes. Preheat a skillet on a medium-high flame.
On an oiled countertop, divide the dough into small balls, then open and flatten each leaf by hand until it is very thin.
Cook one leaf on the skillet until it is golden on each side, and then place one raw leaf on top of the cooked one, and flip the stack. It can be tricky to pick up the thin leaves without them tearing- this can take some practice. Repeat adding raw leaves and flipping the stack until you have about 10 leaves, and repeat until all the dough is cooked. You will end with something that looks like a stack of large pancakes. Serve warm, spread butter and honey/confectioners sugar, and roll up like a crepe.
It was such a pleasure to be able to give my husband a little taste of his childhood. After seeing how easy it was to make Moufletta, I was inspired to try making my own pita!
I concocted my own recipe based on combining a few others:
1 Package (about 2 Tbs) Yeast
1 C. Warm Water (add a little extra if using whole wheat)
2.5-3 C. Flour (I did 1 C. whole wheat, 1.5 C. white)
Mix yeast and water and let sit for 5 minutes or until it is totally dissolved. Add in the rest of the ingredients and combine well, then knead for about 7 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl, and cover with saran wrap or towel and let rise in a 100 degree oven for 1-2 hours, until the dough doubles in size.
Once it has risen, place the dough on a floured surface and cut into 8-12 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball- the more perfect the ball, the rounder your pita will be. Flatten them by hand into a disc, and let rest in darkness (under a towel) for 10-20 minutes. Preaheat an oven to 475, or a skillet on a high flame. I used a skillet, because we like our pita to be a little blackened. For more even color, do it in an oven on a preheated baking stone or preheated sheet.
With a rolling pin, roll each pita to your desired thickness. The more thick and bready you like your pita, the thicker it should be. I rolled mine pretty thin. Since I am a novice baker, I didn’t even have a rolling pin, and a wine bottle did the trick.
If doing in an oven, bake on 475 for about 3 minutes or until the pita puffs up.
Test the pan to see if a droplet of water will sizzle away immediately. If so, it’s ready. Place a pita in the pan, wait about 20 seconds until small bubbles begin to form, and then flip. When large bubbles begin to form (usually about 1 minute), flip again, and the pita should begin to puff up like a pillow. If your pita is not puffing, there are two possible solutions: Your pan may not be hot enough, so raise the flame. If your pita is not moist enough, this can be fixed by spritzing some water on the dough before you put it in the skillet. It’s a neat little trick so that you don’t need to re-knead all your dough with more water. If you still can’t get them to puff, they can be passed off as flatbread (-:.
Voila! Making home made pita was so simple and delicious that I think I will start to do it regularly, and you can too!