Category Archives: Pita Bread

How to Make Pita Bread

Now that’s what I call a big ol’ pile of fresh-baked goodness. For a summertime mezze (Middle Eastern appetizer) party, homemade pitas can’t be beat. Sheesh! There I go getting all Martha Stewart on you again. Plain old chicken salad sandwiches work great on them, too.

One of the really nifty things about pitas is that you don’t need a good oven — or even an oven at all — to make them. They work in everything from a brick oven to a cast iron skillet. Which means there’s really no excuse not to try them. Start by combining your ingredients, save for the water, in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle.

Stir the ingredients on low, then add the water, stirring about 30 seconds more until the ingredients are moistened and the dough comes together.

Switch to the dough hook and knead for 5-7 minutes until the dough is elastic and a somewhat sticky. Can you do all this by hand? Of course, yes.

Turn the dough out into an oiled bowl and let rise for an hour, or put it in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, overnight. If you decide on the latter (and I recommend it), it’s a good idea to de-gas the dough by pressing down on it with your palm once or twice in the first 4-6 hours of chilling.

The next day, remove the dough from the fridge (here it’s got my big ol’ hand print on it), and remove to a floured board.

Cut the dough into nine 3-ounce pieces…

…and roll them into balls.

Let the dough balls rest for 20-30 minutes, then apply your pin and roll.

You want a rough circle about seven inches across. Once rolled, let the dough circles rest about 10 – 15 minutes.

All you need to do now is apply them to a hot baking surface. That can be a baking stone in a 550 oven, a cast iron skillet that’s been pre-heated over a medium-low flame, or— ehem — a big brick oven. Guess which one I’m using? Simply place the dough circle on your device…

…and after a minute or two — depending on the heat — it’ll puff up into a little pillow. Once it’s puffed, you can turn it. I recommend it for brick oven bakers (since brick ovens are so hot…use the longest tongs you own) as well as for skillet bakers. Home oven bakers can simply let them bake without turning to the desired degree of doneness.

If you plan to split the pitas to make pocket sandwiches, I suggest a very light bake, until there’s just a hint of brown on the bottom. Otherwise, bake them to whatever degree you wish. Obviously I like mine a little more well done. The brick oven chars them if I’m not careful, though soot-dusted pitas are their own rustic pleasure. You really can’t go wrong.

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“Sourdough” Pita Bread Recipe

I was fiddling with pita over the weekend and came up with this new formula. It’s much faster than the original version, assuming you have some refreshed and active starter hanging around. I put sourdough in quotations since a bread that’s not made with a starter that’s local to the San Francisco Bay area can’t really claim to be “sour” in that sense. But it still tastes darn good.

11 ounces unbleached all-purpose (AP) flour (substitute whole wheat four for up to half if desired)
10 ounces bread starter
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 1/4 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) olive or vegetable oil
3/4 cup (6 ounces) lukewarm water

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and stir on low until all the ingredients are moist, about 30 seconds. Switch to a dough hook and knead 5-7 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Let rise in an oiled bowl for an hour, until almost doubled in size.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 550 and arrange a pizza stone on the middle rack. Turn the dough out of the bowl and divide it into nine 3-ounce pieces. Roll each into a ball according to the bun shaping instructions under the How to Shape Buns and Rolls tutorial over to the right. Let them rest for 20- 30 minutes. Roll out to circles about 7 inches across. Let rest about 10 minutes.

When ready, simply pick up one or two pitas and drop them onto the baking stone. Bake for 2-3 minutes, until puffy, then gently, with tongs, turn over. Bake another two minutes or so, until the breads achieve the desired color (the lighter the pitas, the more tender and flexible they’ll be…I like mine a little darker for flavor). Cool and eat. These freeze very well.

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Pita Bread Recipe

If Neolithic man could make flat bread, odds are just about all of us can too. If you’re convinced you’re one of those people who’s simply not capable of making palatable bread, your self-image is about to change. The formula is:

16 ounces unbleached all-purpose (AP) flour (substitute whole wheat four for up to half if desired)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 1/4 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) olive or vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups (10.5 ounces) lukewarm water

Combine all the ingredients except the water in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and stir on low to combine. Add the water and continue stirring until all the ingredients are moist, about 30 seconds. Switch to a dough hook and knead 5-7 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Let rise in an oiled bowl for an hour, or for the best flavor, immediately refrigerate the dough overnight.

When you’re ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge and let it warm up for about half an hour. Remove the higher racks in your oven and place a baking stone on the lowest one. Preheat it to 550. Turn the dough out of the bowl and divide it into nine 3-ounce pieces. Roll each into a ball according to the bun shaping instructions under the How to Shape Buns and Rolls tutorial over to the right. Let them rest for 20- 30 minutes. Roll out to circles about 7 inches across. Let rest about 10 minutes.

When ready, simply pick up a pita and drop it onto the baking stone. Bake it for 2-3 minutes, until it puffs up, then gently, with tongs, turn it over. Bake another two minutes or so, until the breads achieve the desired color (the lighter the pitas, the more tender and flexible they’ll be…I like mine a little darker for flavor). Cool and eat.

Filed under:  Bread, Pita Bread | 6 Comments