pillowy pita bread

After living and traveling in the Eastern Mediterranean for over a decade, I’ve seen a lot of pita bread cross my plate.  None of them have ever come close to this one – except the one made by an Israeli friend when she was teaching me how to make this one.  So thank you to Sarit for the lesson!  But don’t be intimidated – it’s not difficult.

Because the goal is the ultimate in pillowy softness (as I write this, I imagine myself as the star in a fabric softener commercial, you know the ones where the pretty lady with the spring in her step and the twirly dress has flower petals rain down on her from Heaven), I use all purpose flour; but you can use half all purpose and half whole wheat if you like.  I would not recommend using 100% whole wheat flour for this particular recipe.

These pitas will create a pocket, so you can open the pocket and stuff them.  We usually use them for dipping rather than stuffing, but it’s your pita so you can do whatever you want with it!

The ingredients are extremely simple and very, very frugal.  The only things you need are all purpose flour, yeast, warm water, salt, sugar, and olive oil.  You also need a cookie sheet or baking sheet.

Start by proofing the yeast.   Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over warm water in a large bowl.  Allow it to sit for a few minutes until it foams.

Meanwhile, weigh out the flour.

When the yeast is ready, stir in the flour, salt, and olive oil.

Turn out the dough on a floured surface and knead with floured hands for about ten minutes. I have a tutorial on kneading dough just like this one here.

Whenever I knead this dough, I always get drowsy.  The dough is so soft, that I want to curl up and take a nap on it.

Put it back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel.  Let it rise for 90 minutes at room temperature.

After 90 minutes, turn on the oven to its maximum heat.  Place a baking sheet in the oven upside down.  It’s important that your baking sheet preheat together with the oven.  Check the dough; it should have doubled in size.  Turn it out onto the counter.  Press out the air from the dough and divide into the number of pitas that you want.  For this recipe, you can either make 8 regular pitas or 6 large ones.  I made 8 regular ones.

Form them into balls and place on a plate or two.  Soak the kitchen towel in water, ring it out, and drape it over the balls.  Let them rest like this for 20 minutes.

Roll out two balls at a time with a rolling pin, leaving the others under the wet towel.  Roll them to a thickness of about 1/8″.  When you have two ready to go, put them on the hot baking sheet.  Close the oven door and wait about 1.5 to 3 minutes.  They should puff up.  Take them out (be careful not to burn your fingers too badly!) and roll out the next two.  You want to keep your eye on these so they don’t burn.   The puffiness is a good indicator of when they’re ready.  I tend to take mine out after about 2 minutes; most recipes say to bake for 3.  It will depend on your oven.

Pillowy Pita Bread
Makes 8 pitas

300g all purpose flour
180 mL warm water (or more or less depending on your flour)
1.5 tsp active dry yeast or instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil

1.  Proof the yeast:  put the water in a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast and sugar on top.  Set aside for 10 minutes, until it foams.  If it doesn’t foam, throw it out and start over with new yeast.

2.  Stir the flour, salt, and olive oil into the water and yeast mixture.  When it is fully combined, turn out onto a floured surface and knead with floured hands for 10 minutes.

3.  Oil bowl and top of dough.  Place in oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and kitchen towel and allow to rise for 90 minutes.

4. Press air out of dough and divide into 8 pieces (6 for large pitas).  Form each piece into a ball.  Cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest 20 minutes.  Preheat oven to maximum heat with a baking sheet upside down on a middle rack.

5.  Roll two balls into 1/8″ thick (1/3 cm) circles.  Place on the very hot baking sheet.  Allow to bake 1.5-3 minutes until puffy but not brown.  Remove and continue with the rest of the balls.

Nutritional Information
per pita, i.e., 1/8 of the total recipe

161 calories
3g fat (0g saturated, 3g unsaturated)
29g carbohydrate
4g protein
1g dietary fiber
0mg cholesterol (0% DV)
583mg sodium (24% DV)
55mg potassium (2% DV)
Contains a significant amount (+10% DV) of the following:
thiamin, niacin, selenium, iron, riboflavin, folic acid, and manganese.

You might also like:
Classic French baguette
Olive bread
Raisin walnut whole wheat bread

14 thoughts on “pillowy pita bread

  1. Wait a second.
    I have:
    “all purpose flour, yeast, warm water, salt, sugar, and olive oil”
    in my kitchen.

    You mean it’s possible to MAKE fresh Pita Bread?
    I had never considered it. Ever.
    I’m so doing this. Pinning it first…on my “Breads” board – lol.
    ~ Dana

    • do it! you will never look back, I promise – however the down side is that you will be stuck making your own pita bread for the rest of your life, because that chalky cardboard stuff at the supermarket won’t cut it for you anymore. So only do it if you are willing to make that sacrifice….

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