Of course she makes this cheese-filled pita look easy, I thought, as I snacked on a slice of home-cured prosciutto, she’s probably been doing it since she was a young girl. Meanwhile the only pastry experience I’ve had came from the supermarket freezer. I could see the kitchen scoreboard already: pita dough – 1, Alix – 0. However, I decided it was my duty as editor (and keen cook) to give it a go. I went in hoping for the best, but admit that I did sling some back-up filo pastry into my supermarket trolley.
The dough came together easily and then it rested, bathed in oil, as though indulging in a beauty treatment, while I raided the linen cupboard for a bedsheet. The moment of truth arrived and I draped the disc of dough over my hands, just like Milada had done. Sure enough, the dough began to stretch under its own weight and, soon, I had a circle of dough that was paper-thin in the middle and thick around the edges. With a little squeal of culinary delight, I laid it on the dining table covered with the bedsheet and began gently pulling the edges. Before I knew it, the table was covered and my only regret was that I didn’t have a bigger table, as there was enough dough to go larger. I flung on the cheese filling with abandon and then readied myself for the final challenge. I raised one long edge of the sheet gave it a little shake and, whoot! The pita rolled up just like Milada’s had done! I gave a jump for joy and coiled it onto the baking tray. Batch number two worked just as well.
I would have hated to waste the offcuts, so I kneaded them together, rested the dough for a while and then used that as well – it had definitely toughened up and I couldn’t get the pastry quite as thin, but it was a passable effort. I filled this batch with an impromptu filling of leftover ricotta, cinnamon, an egg, a little sugar, and some raspberries I had in the freezer.
Thirty-five minutes in the oven and Saturday lunch was ready – Mr Ed declared it delicious and the Macedonian builders next door gave it two thumbs up and put in an order for one with a meat filling next time. Success.
This was great fun and extremely satisfying. I thoroughly recommend it and look forward to hearing your stories of pita triumph.