Homemade pita bread

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. 

Pita Bread
Yields 8
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup lukewarm water
  2. 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  3. 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  4. 1/4 cup (35 grams) whole-wheat flour
  5. 2 1/2 cups (310 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
  6. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  7. 2 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
  1. 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).
  2. Add salt and olive oil to the sponge mixture.
  3. Add most of the remaining all-purpose flour, reserving 1/2 cup for later.
  4. Using chopsticks or a fork, stir the mixture until it comes together.
  5. Dust with a little reserved flour and using your hands, knead the dough in the bowl for 1 minute, incorporating any stray bits.
  6. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a further 2 minutes, until smooth.
  7. Cover and rest dough for 10 minutes.
  8. Knead again for another 2 minutes.
  9. At this point, you can refrigerate the dough (see notes below).
  10. 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.
  11. Heat oven to 250 C. On the bottom shelf of the oven, place an inverted baking tray.
  12. Punch down the dough and divide into 8 equal balls.
  13. While working with one dough ball, make sure the rest are covered with a damp towel (so it doesn't form a crust).
  14. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough ball into a 1/8-inch thick flat disc, dusting with flour if needed.
  15. Place the disc carefully on the inverted baking tray.
  16. Bake for 2 minutes, turn once and bake for 1 more minute.
  17. The pita need to be pale, not brown.
  18. Cover pitas with a clean kitchen towel, while you use the rest of the dough.
  19. Serve warm.
Notes
  1. Do not use too much of the reserved flour while kneading the dough. The dough should be soft to the touch.
  2. 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.
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