“Guys, guys, guys. Don’t you realise we’re doing the same thing over and over again with just a few minor changes?” asked Monkey.
“That’s so not true.” defended Mouse. “While there are plenty of similarities there are also heaps of differences.”
“What about a good pancake recipe? I love pancakes! And Judy – you know the wife of Punch – would like to make pancakes too.” The other day Monkey was talking to Tony’s puppets in Australia. To his surprise he discovered that Judy had a pan, but thought it was only good for whacking Punch. When Monkey asked her to make some pancakes, she didn’t know how.
“Maybe she should try Devil’s flat bread first. We will have pancakes soon, but you need eggs… and milk and sugar.”
“Egg yes, but not necessarily milk” answered Monkey “I am really dying for some pancakes with thick slices of banana on top. Doesn’t Push Push the elephant have good recipe?”
A heated discussion ensued. In the end the consensus was that pita bread should be made first, as this bread is made from flour, water and yeast only, with an optional dash of oil and salt. Bobby the policeman was happy to share his trusted recipe.
“I like to make my pita in the oven” he said, “but you also can make it on the stove top if you don’t have an oven. That’s what I did when I still was at police school. I was boarding then and only had a cooker with one element.”
“See, Monkey” said Mouse.”Judy could try this recipe too. If she’d used the pan properly maybe Punch wouldn’t be quite so obnoxious.”
2.5 cups flour, 1 cup warm water, 1.5 teaspoons dry yeast, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)
Put the flour in a bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in half the water and add the dry yeast. Let sit for 10 mins until the yeast is sloshy. Then mix the flour and water to make a dough and add the remaining water in the process. Move to a clean work surface and knead. Resist adding more water. It needs to be a dry and heavy dough. Knead for at least 5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. When making pita bread, this is the only time you knead throroughly so you might as well do it properly.
Clean the bowl and place the dough in it. Put a little olive oil in the bowl and swipe with the dough, so that the entire surface is covered in a thin oily film (this is not absolutely necessary, but it keeps the dough from drying out). Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and let rest for at least 1 hour in a warm place.
Heat the oven to 2200C
When you are ready, deflate the dough gently and put it on a lighly floured work surface. Divide into 8 balls and flatten them out into a thick disk by rolling them out with a rolling pin to the size you want. Sprinkle with more flour if necessary. Place them on a floured baking tray and let rise for another 5 minutes or so (while the oven is heating up). It is important that the oven is properly heated as the instant heat will help the bread to puff.
Just before you put the tray in the oven, flip the pieces over. Once they are in the oven, it should take around 3 minutes for them to puff up. They are ready when they have finished ballooning. But you might keep them in the oven a little longer to brown them a little. I bake my ones between 5 and 8 minutes. When they come out of the oven they are hard, but they soften when they cool down.
If yo don’t have an oven, you can puff your pita in a pan. Lightly grease a skillet and heat it up high. Place one of the pieces of dough in it and wait until it is puffed. Flip over and brown the other side. Press the edges down with a spatula if neccessary.
Left over pitas keep in an airtight bag for several days and can be heated up in the toaster. You also can freeze baked pitas for up to 3 months. Place some waxed paper between the individual pieces when freezing.