homemade pita bread
This week I decided to be adventurous and try a new type of bread. With all the Hummus I have in the house these days, pita seemed like the appropriate experiment to facilitate snacking and hummus-filled sandwiches. I have to say, just a few weeks ago I was terrified of baking bread, and I’m really proud of my pita bread accomplishment. I might have gotten a little too comfortable with baking this batch– somewhere among socializing, finishing a reading for school, starting a paper and baking bread, I somehow added an extra 1/2 cup of flour– but it turned out great anyways. I strongly encourage those of you who are a little hesitant about bread-baking to give it a try, and this is a fun recipe for beginners and intermediate bakers.
I ended up doubling the recipe because it’s the run-up to finals and I know that I’ll be cooking less and studying more. Because you have to bake them 1 or 2 at a time (for literally a couple minutes), it took quite a bit longer, but I know it will be worth it when I peek into the freezer next week and can pull out more pita.
I haven’t tried too many creative fillings yet– I like sticking with hummus, spring greens, tomato and tofu. But wouldn’t it be great one of these nights to have homemade greek style pulled lamb pitas? Or Melitzanosalata, a Greek eggplant dish with mint and basil? Or maybe try shakshuka, a Greek poached egg and spicy tomato dish with a fun-to-say name? There are so many possibilities.
Thanks to The Buttery Bakery for her wonderful pita bread recipe and Smitten Kitchen for her pita tips. This article is also shared with Bread Experience: BYOB, a monthly commitment to bake bread, Hearth and Soul blog hop, the weekly Wild Yeast Spotting blog hop, the Tuesday Night Supper Club, Ruby Tuesday blog hop, and Tuesdays at the Table.
Makes 6 small pita. Prep time: 10 minutes. Rest time: 1 hour 20 minutes- 2 hours. Cook time: 20 minutes.
- 3/4 cups warm water
- 1 teaspoons of yeast
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
Add yeast to warm water in a large bowl and let stand for about five minutes. The trick here is for the water to be warm, not hot, so just use warm tap water from the sink.
Add the salt, sugar, oil, and 1 1/2 cups of flour. Mix until smooth. Gradually knead in the last 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour until you get a smooth, elastic ball, about 5-7 minutes. You might need to use an additional 1/4 cup of flour if it is too wet, but you want it to stay soft and a little bit sticky to the touch. In an oiled bowl, cover the dough with a cloth towel or plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-2 hours. You can also choose to just refrigerate it overnight to rise instead, though beware that I’ve never tried this method.
Divide the dough into 6 portions and form each into a ball. Let it rest for another 20 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to as hot as it will get, generally 500 degrees F. Put a cookie sheet upside down in the middle.
Roll out each ball on a floured surface until 1/8 inch thick. If it’s rolled out too thin, it will just crisp without puffing. Picture the thickness of a store-bought pita; that’s about right. My suggestion is to start out thicker than you think, and if it doesn’t puff you can always cut them into slices and bake ‘em for another 2 minutes to make some extra pita chips!
Pita generally won’t puff if it’s not moist enough. One way to fix this if your pita isn’t puffing is to try spritzing it with a little water and rolling it back out again, or just spritz them a few minutes before you bake them to let the water absorb.
Bake the pita 1 or 2 at a time on the flipped-over cookie sheet for about 3-4 minutes, or until puffed. They will not brown on the top; most of the browning is actually on the bottom where the dough touches the hot metal cookie sheet, so it can be deceptive. Once puffed, carefully grab the pita out of the oven and toss in the next one until they are all cooked.
Once the pita is cool enough to handle, cut them in half and then run a knife through the middle along the edge that has puffed. It should be fairly easy, but this insures that there’s a nice little pocket for sandwich-making and hummus-stuffing after it cools and deflates a little. Then wrap and store or freeze.