Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
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My poems are like Egyptian bread.
Night passes, and you can't eat it any more!
So, eat it while it is fresh
Before the dust settles on it.
Pottery oven
Khoubz Araby or Pita: Pocket Bread
Total time: 3-½ hours
Dough preparation: 20 minutes
First rising: 2 hours
Forming and second rising: 45 minutes Baking: 20 minutes
1-½ cups water
½ tsp. dry yeast
1 tsp. salt
3-½ cups all-purpose flour

Sprinkle the yeast over the water in a large mixing bowl. Let it rest for 5 minutes or until it begins to bubble. Stir well, then stir in the salt and half of the flour. Add more flour, a quarter-cup at a time, until you have a thick mass that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle over with another ¼ cup of flour and knead for about 7 minutes, adding more flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Shape the dough into a ball and let it rest on the work surface. Clean out the mixing bowl, butter it lightly, and return the dough to the bowl. Turn it around several times to coat it with butter, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and put it in a warm place (about 80F). Let the dough rise until doubled in volume.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

When the dough has risen, punch it down, remove it from the bowl, and knead for 2 minutes to expel any air bubbles. Divide the dough into twelve pieces with a knife. Form each piece into a tight ball, place on a lightly floured surface, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and let rise for a half-hour.

Dust the top of the loaves with flour and flatten them into 6-7" circles. Place them on lightly floured baking sheets, four loaves to a sheet, and cover two of the sheets with a damp towel. Bake one sheet of pitas at a time. Place on the center rack of the oven and bake for about 5 minutes, until the bottoms are just barely golden and the loaves have puffed up. Do not over-bake; these loaves should be soft, not crusty. Serve hot. Makes 12 loaves.