Pita, or some of you might know it as flat bread is an essential part of every meal in most Middle Eastern or Mediterranean countries. The “pocket” in pita bread is created by steam, which puffs up the dough. As the bread cools and flattens, a pocket is left in the middle. Pita is a slightly leavened wheat bread, flat, either round or oval, and variable in size. It is almost customary to eat almost everything in a pita, from falafel, lamb or chicken shawarma, kebab, omelets such as shakshouka (eggs and tomatoes), Molokhia and hummus and other salads in Arab and Israeli cuisine . Pita can be made in many different ways. They can be made from grains other than wheat, such as corn in corn tortillas. They can be made with no leavening, such as matzo or flour tortillas, with chemical leavening (baking soda or baking powder) such as pancakes or crepes, or with yeast, such as naan or pita bread. They can also be made from a starter. Most people who made pita will unanimously agree that baked fresh pita tastes a lot better than store bought pita.They taste best when they are fresh out of the oven. There are only 6 ingredients in this recipe for pita bread, and you even have quite a bit of flexibility in choosing which of those to include. I normally use whole wheat flour and that’s what I’ll be presenting to you for this recipe.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 2 cups of whole wheat flour + 1 cup of bread flour (depending on how dense and thick you want it)
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 Tablespoon of yeast
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of warm water
- 1/4 cup of olive oil or vegetable oil
Mix yeast,sugar,and salt in warm water. Set it aside for 5-10 minutes or until bubbly. Place 2 cups of whole wheat flour and oil in a bowl. Make a well and pour in the yeast mixture. Mix well. Use that 1 cup of flour for kneading and knead for at least 10 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes. When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release some of the trapped gases and divide it into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so that it’ll be easier to shape. As the dough is resting, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place the balls on a floury surface. Dust a rolling pin with some flour and roll each ball out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. If the dough does not stretch sufficiently you can cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again. Fit as many pitas as you can on a baking stone or on a cookie sheet. Do not overcrowd though. Bake each batch for at 3 minutes or until puffy. For a brown and crispier texture, bake for 5 minutes.
Yields 8 Pitas