Pita Bread is easy to make -
and it's delicious!
Ahhh! Freshly baked pita.
Pita bread is a favorite of ours because it is fast, easy, and versatile. This flatbread, also called pocket bread, has been common all over the eastern Mediterranean for hundreds of years. This bread can be cut in half for sandwiches and is excellent for scooping up dips such as Hummus, Baba Ghanoush, and guacamole.
You can substitute whole-wheat, barley, or rye flour for part of the white flour to suit your taste. The whole grain doughs may require additional water to be soft and pliable.
I have made pita bread using a mixer with a dough hook and kneading it by hand. This is easy to knead, so use the method that works best for you.
3 cups bread flour
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 ¼ cups warm (not hot) water
Place the flour, sugar, salt, and dry yeast in a large bowl. Mix together by hand or on low speed with a mixer to blend all the ingredients. Add the melted butter and warm water. Knead with the dough hook on low to medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft, and elastic or for about 10 minutes by hand. You may need to add flour or water; the dough should be slightly tacky but not sticky. If it is stiff and dry, add more water a little at a time until it is soft. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it over once to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, 1 to 11/2 hours.
Punch the dough down and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll the pieces into balls. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Place a pizza or baking stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F. If you do not have a pizza or baking stone, place a baking sheet upside down on an oven rack to serve as a hearth.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out each ball of dough into a thin round, about 8 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Don’t roll them too thin, or they will not puff. I start rolling the dough when I start the oven preheating.
Spray the stone or baking sheet lightly with water then place as many dough rounds as will fit without touching directly onto the hearth. Place the dough on the hearth so that the side that was on top on the counter is the side that is on top on the hearth. Bake the dough for 3 ½ minutes. Remove each bread to a rack to cool. If you leave the breads in the oven too long, they will deflate to flat disks.
Some hints for rolling your pita bread into a circle. Shape the ball of dough into a flat disk with your hands before you start rolling. This gives you a nicely shaped circle to start rolling. Repeatedly turn the dough about a 1/4 turn as you roll it to maintain the round shape. I use a 12 - 14 inch long piece of 1 inch dowel as a rolling pin. I find this gives me better control. But, most importantly of all, don't worry if your pitas are not perfectly round. They will still be delicious, and they will get more round each time you bake them!
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