I recently made Gyros. Well not really, but more like chicken with tzatziki and feta and some veggies served in a pita.
The main ingredients for making gyros can be found for pretty low prices. For a meal that covers all the food groups: meat, veggies, dairy, grain and has just all around good taste, gyros are nearly perfect. Nearly. So here's the problem, pita bread costs over $3 for a small package. Not exactly cheap.
Many people have tomatoes, cucumber and greens in their gardens this time of year. Some of them even have red tomatoes, but I would not be one of them! Fortunately, the fresh veggies are also available at farmer's markets or the grocery stores for reasonable prices. Chicken can be found for $3.00 per pound for boneless, skinless breast meat and other cuts are even less. You only need a pound of chicken to feed 4-6 people (depending how generous the serving is). But those pitas again...
So I got this idea that I would try making them. Guess what? They are super easy! I rarely make bread and I did some things wrong, but even with my mistakes, the pitas came out great.
The recipe I used can be found here: about.com
I missed the instruction to knead the bread for 15 minutes, so I just kneaded it for about 5 minutes and tossed it into the greased bowl. The dough didn't rise the full 3 hours because I started making the bread late - so after two hours it looked close enough to double for me. I reduced the time in the oven to about 3 minutes on one side and just over 1 minute on the other. But even these short-cuts and oversights didn't ruin the pitas.
The touch time is about 15 minutes to make the dough, unless you knead it for 15 minutes and then it would be around 25 minutes. The elasped time is the issue for this recipe, around four hours! With my mistakes, the total elasped time was probably closer to three hours.
The warm water, sugar and yeast mixture has to rest for 15 minutes and then it just takes a couple minutes to combine with the flour, salt and extra water. After the dough had risen I think it took about 1/2 hour to finish making 10 pitas.
These pitas opened into pockets just like the bread I bought at the store but they tasted better, they were yeasty and chewy around the edges. They would be excellent with just a little butter, garlic and salt baked on the side of them or served with hummus.
One of the dough rounds was used to make a mini cheese pizza for my picky eater and that was a HUGE hit.