Pita, Plain, with Zaatar & Tomatoes
Before we proceed I just want to mention, how we are all united in support of the Japanese people and nation in heart and spirit. If you wish to help with the rebuilding efforts, please feel free to consider a donation at http://www.redcross.org/ or click the photo above. Let us all embrace and cherish every moment with those who are precious to us.
Pitas, considering how simple the dough is, it's helpful if you know some tips and suggestions for baking a perfect pita. Shape and thickness are key so you won't get pita rolls accidentally. Seal dough with a touch of oil before first rise and cover with a moist towel during second 10 minute plus minus rest, will result in a phenomenal pita. Nothing beats a house that smells of baked breads especially when guests or your family members step in from the outside. Please read the entire post for tidbits of do and don'ts, entirely based on my experience. It does tempt me to one day build a clay oven in the backyard or a taboon.
I made two 1lb2oz batches to allow for trial and error. I wanted to play with it and get it right. Heat and length in the oven is essential. Of course I will give you a very tight range of minutes here between 5-10 minutes tops in a 500F oven, but you would be amazed at the difference of two minutes of say between 6 to 8 minutes in the oven make. I must say even when I left them at 8minutes and they crisp, and get deeply golden outside the pitas were still soft inside. Ovens vary so you have to gauge and watch first batch closely.
Well you take one of the dozen dough balls sprinkle some flour of the surface and now on to the fun part, look at your palm. Do you see the part of your palm just below the thumb? In Hebrew we call it a pillow כרית or a cushion. You can put the cushion of your palm to a good use here and the kids will like this trick as well. I rolled out and shaped a flatter pita dough by pressing the dough with the cushion at the palm of my hand. See picture to the left below. It's free style and pitas come out looking mighty authentic. Now it will be the same if you are short on time and want to quickly roll it out with a rolling pin
Now, most recipes I've seen say to mix zaatar and olive oil. I find that method, while cooking or baking, sometimes makes the zaartar darkens and quickly burn. What I find if you brush olive oil first, then sprinkle with zaatar and salt, the zaatar keeps its character and is less likely to darken and burn. I didn't have one single such incident with this method. Now on to the tomatoes....