I have a secret. This is the best pita bread recipe there is out there. And I couldn’t keep it from you any longer.
As much as I love a cooking challenge, once in a while, I just want a recipe I can rely on. It’s like an old sweater on the first day of Autumn.
This recipe is adapted from food writer David Tanis. He writes a weekly column in the New York Times food section. I’ve kept most of the recipe intact, except for simplifying a couple of steps.
Things to keep in mind
- Don’t add too much flour while kneading.
- Don’t roll the dough too thin. Pitas need to be small and fluffy.
- Don’t brown them. They are meant to look pale.
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup (35 grams) whole-wheat flour
- 2 1/2 cups (310 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Make the sponge: add lukewarm water to a large mixing bowl. Stir in yeast and sugar. Add whole-wheat flour and 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour and whisk to combine. Leave mixture in a warm (not hot) place, uncovered, for 15 mins (until frothy).
- Add salt and olive oil to the sponge mixture.
- Add most of the remaining all-purpose flour, reserving 1/2 cup for later.
- Using chopsticks or a fork, stir the mixture until it comes together.
- Dust with a little reserved flour and using your hands, knead the dough in the bowl for 1 minute, incorporating any stray bits.
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a further 2 minutes, until smooth.
- Cover and rest dough for 10 minutes.
- Knead again for another 2 minutes.
- At this point, you can refrigerate the dough (see notes below).
- If using straight away, put the bowl over the dough and leave it in a warm (not hot) place for 1 hour (or until doubled in size). Alternatively, you can put the dough back in the bowl, cover with clingfilm and then a towel.
- Heat oven to 250 C. On the bottom shelf of the oven, place an inverted baking tray.
- Punch down the dough and divide into 8 equal balls.
- While working with one dough ball, make sure the rest are covered with a damp towel (so it doesn't form a crust).
- Using a rolling pin, roll the dough ball into a 1/8-inch thick flat disc, dusting with flour if needed.
- Place the disc carefully on the inverted baking tray.
- Bake for 2 minutes, turn once and bake for 1 more minute.
- The pita need to be pale, not brown.
- Cover pitas with a clean kitchen towel, while you use the rest of the dough.
- Serve warm.
- Do not use too much of the reserved flour while kneading the dough. The dough should be soft to the touch.
- The dough can be refrigerated in a sealed plastic bag, after kneading (before proving), for a few hours or overnight. When you're ready to use it, bring it back to room temperature and knead into a ball.