HCH 8 / January 2016
Upgraded pita in a pan (surprises included), by Eyal Streett
Hi there cooking lovers, hope you’re doing well!
This time we’re going to have lots of fun cooking. We’re going to make a delicious bread. It’s basically a special pita bread you make in a pan. Lots of fun!
Then we’ll fill them up with great fillings. How exciting is that? I had so much fun making these pan-cooked sambousak, I’m sure you will too.
The only thing you need to keep in mind is the timing: ideally you want your dough to rise twice, each time for about an hour. So that means a bit over 2 hours, but the good news is you can prepare the fillings during the 2nd hour.
Cooking the bread will take a further 20 minutes, more or less.
Also keep in mind that you’re going to use your hands to knead.
So, let’s cook!
Ingredients for the pita
1kg. white flour (and some more for your work space)
1 flat Tbsp. dry yeast
1 full Tbsp. sugar (I actually use brown sugar)
650 ml water (cold)
1 full Tbsp. salt
your choice of filling (look further down in this article to see the ingredients for the filling of your choice)
1 egg, slightly beaten
raw sesame seeds
large mixing bowl
griddle or large pan
- In a mixing bowl: Mix well the flour, yeast and sugar.
- Gradually add water and knead your dough.
The working method is very important here: keep one hand dry on the rim of the mixing bowl and the other hand inside the mix, kneading away (check out the photo).
At first you will get crumbs. Keep on adding water gradually. The mix will get thicker and you will eventually get wet dough. Knead on and the dough will eventually get easier to handle. Every time it seems easy to handle you should add a bit more water. Go on until you have added around 550 – 600ml of water. If your dough isn’t wet and sticky then you should add a little bit more water. Once your dough is sticky knead it for at least another 5 minutes. The dough will get a bit firmer but will still be difficult to handle.
- Add the salt.
Try getting the salt all over the dough. Knead a little bit and you will notice that the dough is immediately much dryer. Knead for about a minute. Gradually add another 50ml of water (or less), kneading constantly. Your dough will become wet again. Knead the dough for at least another 5 minutes. Don’t forget the working method: one dry hand and one hand in the dough. Your dough should stretch but it should be uniform, not stringy(see photo). Wow, all of that kneading was quite tiring on the arm.
- Pour some olive oil in the palm of your hand (the kneading hand) and rub it around the walls of the dough. Be sure to get all around the dough, you might need to add some more olive oil.
- Your dough is ready to rise. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or a towel, or both) and leave it in a warm place for 1 hour.
- An hour later: take your risen dough and lay it on your workspace (sprinkle some flour on the the space beforehand). Make a long loaf, and cut the dough into 20 equal parts. Roll a ball in between yours hands out of each of these parts and keep them on a tray. Cover the dough with your plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place for another hour (at least 45 minutes, but over an hour is even better).
- Meanwhile, prepare your filling.
OK, so here we’ve got to make a filling. I’ll give you 5 choices, depending on your mood. I actually made all five for the same meal, so I had 4 pitas of each.
All recipes given here will make enough filling for 4 pitas.
Filling number 1: The Italian
The king (and queen) of the fillings: real easy to prepare and the favorite one as far as my kids are concern.
mozarella (1 medium size ball)
dry oregano (or fresh basil)
(minced garlic – only if you’re into that)
a pinch of salt
Cut the mozarella and the tomato. Mix together with the oregano. Add salt. Drain any liquid. You want your filling as dry as possible.
Filling number 2: The Classic
spinach cooked and drained well (1 handful)
a bit of turmeric
Gouda cheese cut in small cubes (50 grams, more or less)
lightly fried onion (half of a small onion)
a pinch of salt
Drain spinach. Mix in the turmeric. Add cheese, onion and salt. Mix well. Be sure to get rid of any liquid.
Filling number 3: The Indian Fish
Delicious. Another great use for curry paste!
fish. I actually used 1 can of sardines that I had lying around. You could also use fresh fish but then you should cook it a bit before incorporating it to this recipe.
curry paste (nice spoonful): for a delicious homemade curry paste see HCH 2 (3 Essentials in the Kitchen)
garlic (1 or 2 cloves)
onion (half of a small onion)
parsley stems (chopped, 1 small handful)
hot chili powder
vegetable oil (just a bit)
Heat oil in a pan. Add garlic and onion. When onion is clear add parsley stems. Mix well for a minute. Add fish and chili powder. Mix. Add curry paste. Mix well.
Filling number 4: Hard-boiled Egg with a Twist
Transmits you to another place.
hard-boiled egg (2 eggs), cut small but not chopped.
onion, half of a small onion
ginger, a 3-5 cm piece, skinned and diced small.
turmeric, (1 tsp.)
coconut milk (just a small amount, 50ml more or less)
vegetable oil (just a bit)
Heat oil, fry onions until they are clear. Add ginger and mix. On low fire: add egg and turmeric. Mix gently. Add coconut milk and let it simmer and reduce. Once the milk turns into a thicker consistency you can take it off the fire. Remember: you don’t want your filling to have liquids.
Filling number 5: Creamed Forest
Fresh and perfect.
mushrooms, fresh and peeled (4-6 champignon mushrooms)
cream cheese, any kind of creamy cheese (1 – 2 Tbsp.)
parsley leaves, chopped (small handful)
Cut mushrooms small. Mix with cheese and parsley.
Great! So now you’ve got your fillings all set and that means it’s time to make bread.
Take a risen ball and open it into a flat circle. Let 2 spoons of the filling onto the middle of the circle. Carefully fold the circle into a semi circle and close well with your fingers. Now you’ve suddenly got pastry!!! Repeat with all of your dough.
Heat up your griddle (pan). No oil needed. You want a nice medium fire, maybe a bit lower.
While the griddle is warming up take an egg and beat it lightly into a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, paint the tops of all of your pastry with the egg. Sprinkle on raw sesame seeds.
Once your griddle seems to have a stable heat gently lean your pastry on the griddle, sesame side up. After about 3 minutes turn over for another 3 minutes. That’s it! your upgraded pita is ready! Now all you have left to do is enjoy them!
If you think you made too many, just hand them out at work or invite some friends over. And if you really feel like you should reheat them, the oven is actually your best solution.
Keep on cooking!
(Photos by Eyal Streett, Yael Streett Tejeda & Itay Streett Tejeda)
I. Working method: only one hand in the mix
II. Gradually adding water
III. Stretchy dough
IV. It’s time to add the olive oil
V. The dough is ready for 1st rising
VI. Risen dough cut into equal parts
VII. Rolling dough into balls
VIII. Dough is ready for 2nd rising
IX. That’s it. Now the dough is ready!
X. Filling the dough with mushrooms (filling number. 5)
XI. Closing up the pita
XII. Painting the tops with egg
XIII. Sprinkling on the sesame
XIV. Just out of the pan!
XVI. Children’s favorite: The Italian filling
Until next time,