Pita Bread: A Recipe

Scroll to the bottom of this post to see my Day #2 photograph for the December Photo Project!

Homemade bread is perhaps one of my favorite things to bake (if cookies didn’t exist of course). I woke up this morning with a great desire to make pita bread. While pita bread is a bit more time consuming and requires some dedication, the end result is always worth the effort. Pita bread freezes well and tastes wonderful in so many applications: cut into wedges and served with hummus, toasted and served with soup, filled with falafel and tahini sauce, seasoned and baked into chips for a tasty snack… I love it!

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The recipe I use was printed in my local newspaper quite some time ago. My copy has been taped together many times and has dried dough on it – signs of a well-used recipe! It never fails and uses ingredients you ought to have on hand. You will need a baking stone though. Tim and I created a video of the pita making process in 2009 which I posted to my blog. You can also watch it here if you so desire. It’s funny.

Pita Bread (adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden)

*NOTE: I have had success replacing some of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour so feel free to experiment.

Makes 16

1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups warm water, divided
6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 teaspoons salt

1. In a large bowl, whisk together yeast, sugar, and 1/2 cup warm water. Whisk well and set aside until frothy, about 10 minutes. Add remaining 2 cups of warm water and 1 cup of flour. Stir with a big spoon. Add 2 more cups of flour, stirring well after each addition. Allow mixture to rest for 10-15 minutes.

2. Add 2 tablespoons oil and the salt to the mixture and stir well. Slowly add the remaining 3 cups of flour, mixing with a sturdy spoon or your hands. Mix until the dough forms a rough ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, you can use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Knead on medium speed until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Grease a large bowl with the remaining tablespoon of oil and place dough in bowl. Turn to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and place in a warm, draft-free spot. Let the dough rise until doubled in volume, 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

3. Place a baking stone on the middle rack of your oven and preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times and then divide equally into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap to prevent drying out the dough. Start with one ball of dough and roll it into a 7-inch disk. Place it on a lightly floured cookie sheet and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Repeat the process with as many dough balls as can fit on cookie sheets, making sure to leave a bit of space between each disk (do not to stack the dough). I usually use two large cookie sheets and place three disks on each sheet. Let the disks rest for 20 minutes.

4. Bake the disks, 1-2 at a time (depending on the size of your baking stone), on the stone until slightly golden and puffed, about 3 minutes per pita. Set a timer so you don’t forget!! Remove puffed pita(s) from the oven and start stacking on a plate. They will deflate on their own. Cover the stack with a clean dry towel and repeat until all pitas are baked.

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5. If you choose to freeze some of the pita breads, let them cool first and then double wrap them in zipper-lock bags. They keep well for several months, but rarely last that long since they are so darn delicious! Enjoy!!

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This stack of pita breads is my December Photo Project Day #2 photograph.