It’s been years since I last baked pita bread, but I sure won’t wait that long again. I made a batch this week and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make, and how tasty it is to eat fresh-from-the-oven pitas!
nicely browned pita bread, fresh from the oven
Backtracking a bit, my wife and I made a pledge this year to bake all our own bread and bakery products. The only thing we’ve bought so far has been tortillas, which we decided was going to be exempt.
Pita bread is our favorite flatbread. We occasionally use it as a pocket bread, but most often it is used baked into pita crisps or as a pizza crust. It also freezes well, which makes it a convenient source of whole grain bread in our diet. We can just pop it out of the freezer and in a few minutes it’s thawed and ready to use.
pita dough resting
I adapted my recipe from this one I found at The Fresh Loaf. There you will find an excellent tutorial on the whole process of pita baking. My only complaint with their recipe is that the oven setting is not hot enough. Traditionally, pitas are baked in a very hot oven. I set ours at 550F, which is the maximum it will go. The pocket is formed by steam when the dough meets the hot stone. If you’re using it strictly as a flatbread, then oven temp doesn’t matter so much.
I used a well-seasoned pizza stone to bake the pitas on. If you don’t have a stone, you can bake the pitas on a thick baking sheet that is turned upside down. You want to make sure the baking sheet doesn’t warp at the high oven temperatures. A pizza stone or baking tiles are really the best way to go.
pita meets pizza stone
pita puffs up
If you’re at all familiar with baking, and have a pizza stone or baking tiles, then making pita bread is easy. It’s also a fun thing to do with kids and family.
Any combination and white and whole wheat flours can be used in this recipe – all white, all whole wheat, or any combination in between. Baked pitas keep for several days, or you can freeze for longer storage.
1-1/2 cup flour, white whole wheat or whole wheat
1-1/2 cup flour, unbleached white
1-1/2 tsp salt
1-1/4 cup water
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp yeast, active dry
2 tbsp oil, olive
1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in 1-1/4 cup warm water. Let sit for 5 minutes to activate yeast. (If using instant yeast, skip this step and mix all wet and dry ingredients together)
2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, yeast/water mixture and oil. Stir mixture to form a ball. Add up to 1/4 cup more water if needed.
3. Place dough on work surface and knead for 10 minutes, or use low speed of electric mixer to knead.
4. Place dough in bowl lightly coated with a little oil. Cover and let rise for 90 minutes, until doubled in bulk.
5. Punch dough down to release trapped gases. Divide dough into 8 balls. Cover and let rest for 20-30 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so it is easier to shape.
6. While dough is resting, place pizza stone or baking tiles in oven and preheat to 550°F.
7. Spread light coat of flour on work surface. Place one ball of dough there and sprinkle top with flour. Use hands or rolling pin to flatten out to 1/8″ or 1/4″ thick. If dough is hard to stretch, cover and let rest another 5-10 minutes. Prepare as much dough as will fit on pizza stone at one time.
8. Open oven and place as many pitas as you can fit on the stone. Let bake for 2-3 minutes, until puffed up and as brown as desired.
9. While one batch of pitas are baking, form next batch of dough. Repeat until all dough is baked.
10. Remove pitas from oven and let cool. Bubbles should deflate as pitas cool. Be careful – pitas are full of hot steam when taken from the oven!
I love the Fresh Loaf! I used their resources years ago when I was first learning to make sourdough and had to troubleshoot a problem with my starter. Your pita bread looks wonderful. I’ve never baked it myself, although I do have a recipe sitting here from Fine Cooking magazine that I keep threatening to try. Maybe I’ll try both the FC and the Fresh Loaf recipes, and see which I prefer. Thanks for posting this!
I liked it so much I made a second batch yesterday, using half unbleached and half KA whole wheat. Homemade pita has such a good fresh taste – like any homemade bread for that matter. I’ll bet you like both recipes!
Yum, Villager. I’m definitely going to try this. I try to bake all our own bread — unless I am on deadline. We don’t have an official “bread stone” but found an unglazed tile for $2 at the hardware store that works just the same (and when the first one broke, our budget was not devastated).
Did you know making tortillas is really quite easy, if you have a cast-iron skillet? I sometimes take the time to do this if I’m serving a Tex-Mex dish. 😉
Meredith, I was quite sure someone would tell me how easy it is to make tortillas, and I was right! 😉 I might give it a try someday, who knows?
Now that is my kind of lunch. We have not made pita bread in ages either, perhaps it is time we do so again…soon.:) Thanks for the great recipe and baking instructions.
I love homemade bread. I admit tho I have never ate let alone pita, but it sures look interesting to try. Thanks for the recipe.
Congratulations on your resolution! We have been baking all our breads (except tortillas) for over ten years, and about half a year ago we were out of bread and the oven element had burned out so I had to buy bread. I was SHOCKED at how expensive it is, and for such poor quality too.
I highly recommend you find a copy of the book “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day”. We have adopted that method and always have dough waiting for baking in the fridge. We have found that it makes a superior pizza dough in addition to being a great loaf for toast, sandwiches, etc.
You are so right about the poor quality of most store-bought bread. I’ve always thought my worst homemade bread was still better than what I could buy. We do have some good bakeries here, but even then their best effort isn’t any better than ours.
Lynda has been a fan of no-knead bread for some time now. She got the Artisan Bread book when it came out, and she’s currently baking her way through “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day”. She made Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes this week and they were to DIE for! And healthy as well. With chocolate and coffee, what’s not to like?
I still like to get out the KitchenAid mixer and use it to knead dough. It does make short work of the process. Making bread is definitely therapeutic for me, tho’ since retiring I usually don’t need therapy like I used to! So, we take turns making bread, which makes it nice.
I use my kitchen aid mixer a lot but also use the bread machine on the dough cycle. Even when using the bread machine I always bloom my yeast first.
Delicious! I’ll have to try the recipe too. Using for pizza sounds really yummy! I’ve been making majority of our breads from scratch for a year now, and I completely agree with you on the tortillas… I’ve tried several times, and just can’t get them right. I usually end up with a flat bread style tortilla that won’t fold, so I’ve given up on making them.
Thanks for introducing me to The Fresh Loaf. Looking forward to exploring it more. Have you heard of A Year In Bread? http://ayearinbread.blogspot.com/
We had pita pizzas for lunch today! They’re just the right size for individual pizza, I think.
I’ll check out A Year In Bread. Thanks for the tip.
I LOVE homemade pita bread, especially with homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers. Your post makes me excited for tomato season 🙂
Villager, I think I’m coming to eat at your house! You always have the best recipes. I’ve said it before, but it’s true! Before children, I baked a lot of homemade bread but haven’t had the energy or time since then, except for quick breads. Too bad, because store bread is less tasty and too expensive!
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