Home baked pita bread has been a staple on our menu for several years now. The tasty flatbreads are great for wraps, pocket bread, pita crisps and pizza crust. And they freeze well too, making it possible to have them on short notice whenever we want them. As a result, we pretty much always have some on hand.
My original recipe for Whole Wheat Pita Bread calls for half whole wheat flour and half unbleached flour. Those pitas are great for those who want a lighter taste, especially when you use milder tasting white whole wheat flour. And for those who like the taste of sourdough and whole wheat, my Whole Wheat Sourdough Pita Bread recipe combines the two for a more full flavored, naturally leavened whole grain pita bread.
But regular readers will know that I’m also a big fan of spelt. Since we got our Nutrimill grain mill a little over a year ago, we’ve been grinding our own flours and flour mixes, and I keep a supply of whole grain spelt on hand for grinding into flour. Spelt has a sweet, nutty flavor and a nutritional profile that is hard to beat, offering up lots of fiber, protein and minerals.
Baking with spelt does require some special considerations though. The gluten in spelt is more fragile than the gluten in wheat, which makes it easy to over knead. And breads made with 100% spelt may not rise as much compared to wheat breads. That’s not an issue with most quick breads, and spelt is great in those recipes. But on the plus side, spelt flour makes doughs that are supple and easy to roll out without snapping back. This makes spelt great for pita bread and other flatbreads like pizza and foccacia.
So today I want to share my recipe for pita bread made with spelt flour. The actual baking procedure is the same as for my other pita recipes. I bake the dough for 2-3 minutes on a very hot preheated pizza stone. The pocket in the bread is formed by steam when the dough meets the hot stone. If you’re using it strictly as a flatbread and don’t care if the pitas puff up perfectly or not, then oven temp doesn’t matter so much.
One thing that is different with this recipe is a resting period after mixing the ingredients together, and before kneading. The rest period allows the flour to get fully hydrated, and the gluten to begin developing. I find that 100% whole grain flours, especially those freshly ground at home, can take longer than usual to absorb liquid. Without the rest period, it is sometimes necessary to add additional flour in order to work with the dough, which then causes the dough to be too dry later on. When I use the Kitchenaid mixer to do my kneading, I just mix the ingredients up in the mixer bowl using my dough whisk and then cover with foil or plastic wrap. After the rest period, it’s on to the mixer for the kneading.
Also, I weigh the flour and water for this recipe, and for all the bread recipes I develop myself. When you use volume measurements for flours, there is so much difference in how much flour you actually get depending on how you fill the cups, and how fluffy or dense the flour is. Weighing gives me more consistent and dependable results. You can get a good digital kitchen scale for less than $25, and it will be money well spent in my opinion. A scale is so handy that I can’t imagine baking or cooking without one.
This recipe can be made with either all spelt flour, or with half spelt and half unbleached flour. Either way, you may have to add a little bit of either flour or water to get the right dough consistency. The baked pitas keep for several days, or you can freeze for longer storage.