Years ago after watching my friend’s mom making her daily Pita bread with ease I was inspired to make my own. My endeavors were successful in consistently making flat bread, but, pita needs to puff out and mine were not always doing that. So I gave it up for a while. Finally, I came across a 2008 posting in a blog named - Pete Bakes!, depicting excellent pita making photos, along with a recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, a book I do not own – shock of the world, but anyway, I was inspired to revisit my pita making days.
With the exception of using bread flour and rapid rise yeast (my tweaks) - the dough recipe on Pete Bakes! - is similar to the recipe I acquired years ago; additional tips in handling the dough made all the difference for me.
This recipe is easy and fun to make; in fact they turned out to be the best looking I have ever made. Those I baked in the photo, above, were done on a flat cookie sheet - the next time around I used a baking stone, both work just as well.
While they are baking, I just have to stay close to the front of the oven to watch them puff and I bet you will too!
8 pitas easily; but it really depends on the chunk of dough you pull off.
1-1/2 Cups lukewarm water
2 1/2 Tsp active dry yeast, or instant/rapid rise yeast (see note below)
NOTE: if you use instant yeast (the sugar can be optional) - start with step 2
A pinch of sugar
2 1/2 Tsp salt
3 1/4 cups bread flour (I use King Arthur-fyi), or all-purpose flour
Add the water to a large bowl, stir in the active dry yeast and sugar - proof it = let it sit until foamy 2-5 minutes. Stir in the salt. Mix in the flour until uniformly moist...skip to step 3.
NOTE: if using instant yeast, instead, mix your yeast, salt and flour together . Add the water to a large bowl and then mix in the flour mixture until uniformly moist.
There’s no need to knead - but is optional. Cover with a loose lid or towel and let rise for about 2 hours. Can let rise covered in the refrigerator overnight - let the dough sit out about an hour before forming pitas and baking.
An hour before baking, preheat the oven to 500F, with or without a baking stone. Pita dough likes a very hot oven.
Before forming a round, dust the surface of the dough with flour and pull off a piece - size is up to you.
Dust the piece with more flour and shape it into a ball, at this stage, this dough is sticky but easy to handle, it's ok to use the amount of flour it takes to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and the rolling pin.
So, using your hands, a little flour and a rolling pin, roll the dough into a thin but kind of puffy round…see special note below.
SPECIAL NOTE: In the past years I rolled the dough so flat it didn’t puff; hmmm, but some say the flatter you roll the better [email protected][email protected] - I found what works for me is not to roll so flat.
If using a baking stone; I place the dough round, by hand, one by one, and take it out with the help of a metal peel. Note: most instructions say to place the round on a pizza peel dusted with cornmeal and slide the dough directly onto the baking stone; I don’t like messing with the cornmeal, I prefer my method. BTW, I own a wooden and metal peel, I find the metal peel works best when taking the pita out of the oven.
Alternate pita baking would be to place the dough on a baking sheet, it works great, you can make 3-4 at the same time, this is actually my favorite way to bake them. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly browned and puffed. My oven takes between 6.5 to 7 minutes, they start to puff a little over 3 minutes.
When you pull them out of the oven, wrap the pitas in a clean dish towel and set on a rack to keep them soft.