Pita Bread for Cooking on a Boat
My husband, Billy, and I were sailing the Exuma Islands chain of the Bahamas aboard Bonnie Christine, our Catalina 380, when I realized we were out of bread. We were far away from provisions. Then I remembered a recipe I’d clipped and saved from Cruising World ages ago, for pitas that could be made in a skillet (“A Peaceful Offering,” CW July 2000). This was years before we set off cruising ourselves. At the time I’d thought, “How exotic! I want to do that!” I’d saved the basic recipe, dreaming of the day when I too could bake bread while sailing far from civilization.
So as we sailed toward Lee Stocking Island, I pulled out the yellowed clipping and began to mix and knead the simple ingredients — but (like most boat cooks) I couldn’t resist adding some personal touches. This is my own version of that recipe. Not only did the pita feed us — that first recipe fed my cruising dreams for years before we actually set sail.
Editor’s Note: Before the recipes from People & Food were available online, this recipe was one of those most often requested. We think readers will appreciate Linda’s twist on this bread. Find this recipe and more old and new favorites online at cruisingworld.com/people/people-and-food.
Savory Skillet Pocket Bread Recipe
2 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cups flour (plus 1 cup for kneading)
2 tablespoons dried herbs (sage, thyme, oregano, basil)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
Sea salt, to taste
Whisk together water, yeast, salt, sugar and oil. Let sit five minutes. Add 5 cups flour and mix with a wooden spoon until dough is very stiff. Tip dough onto floured work surface, lightly flour hands, and knead for five minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly oiled, clean bowl, roll around to coat, and cover with a dish towel. Let rise until doubled (1 to 2 hours depending on air temperature). Tip dough onto floured surface. Shape into 12 fist-size balls. Place balls on a sheet of baking paper, cover, and let rise again for 20 minutes. Cut more baking paper into 10-inch squares. Roll balls into 1/8-inch-thick circles. Firmly pat on your choice of dried herbs, sesame seeds, and sea salt, and stack, separated by squares of baking paper. Heat a dry nonstick or cast-iron skillet over high heat, then reduce to medium-high. Don’t use oil or butter in pan. Dry-fry each pita until top begins to form air pockets and bottom begins to brown (5 to 30 seconds per side, depending on stove). Makes 12 6- to 8-inch pitas.
CAN BE PREPARED: UNDER WAY OR AT ANCHOR
PREP TIME: 3 TO 4 HOURS (DEPENDING ON RISING TIME)
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: MEDIUM
Tip: Pita-Making Tools
by Lynda Morris Childress
Whether you’re safely at anchor in a peaceful cove or under way on a calm day, making this bread will be easier if you have the following items. Do use a wooden spoon. Wood is strong, and won’t bend or break when stirring thick, elastic dough batter. Do use a nonstick spatula — it won’t scratch or damage nonstick cookware.
• One or two large mixing bowls
• A wire whisk
• A wooden spoon
• Baking paper
• 12-inch nonstick or cast-iron skillet
• Heat-resistant plastic spatula