Making pita is a wonderful thing. The feel of cool flour then sticky dough on your hands; the energy and repetition required for kneading the dough; the miracle of watching yeast raise the dough; the yeasty smell in the kitchen; and finally watching pita quickly puff up in the oven before your eyes. This Greek bread is a feast for your senses.
Yield: 12 pita bread
Preparation Time: About 2 hours 15 minutes (including rising and resting times)
Baking Time: 3minutes @ 245 C (475 F)
- 1 tsp (5mL) active dry yeast (or 2 tsp (10mL) fresh yeast)
- 1 cup (250mL) warm water
- 1 Tbsp (15mL) olive oil
- 1 tsp (5mL) salt
- 2 cups (500mL) white bread flour (or all purpose flour)
- 1 cup (250mL) whole wheat bread flour (or whole wheat flour)
- extra flour for kneading and rolling the dough
- 1 tsp (5mL) oil, for the bowl
- 4 Tbsp (60mL) cornmeal, for the pans (or parchment paper)
- large bowl
- liquid measuring cup
- measuring cups and spoons
- plastic wrap
- pastry cutter (AKA “Fred”), or sharp knife
- 2 large baking trays
- metal spatula
- cooling rack
- tea towel
1. Measure the warm water. Add the yeast and give it a stir. Add olive oil and mix together.
2. Measure the bread flours and put in a large bowl. Add the salt and mix with the flours. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture with your fist. Pour the water/yeast mixture in the well, being sure to get all of the yeast. Starting in the middle of the bowl, with one clean finger, mix the wet and dry ingredients until they come together into a “shaggy mass”. When the mixture is starting to become a dough, scrape it out onto a floured work surface.
3. Knead the dough until smooth, about 10 minutes, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky. The dough should be smooth, firm and springy.
4. Wipe the bowl clean then add 1 Tablespoon (15mL) of oil. Swish the dough around the bowl, flip it over and swish the dough again. Cover with plastic wrap and place the bowl in a warm spot. Let the dough rise for about 1 ½ hours, or until it has doubled in size.
5. Preheat the oven to 245 C (475 F). (A very hot oven! )
6. Sprinkle two rimmed baking trays with some cornmeal (or line with parchment paper).
7. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Roll the dough with the palms of your hands into a long roll.
8. Cut the dough into12 equal sized pieces with a pastry scraper or sharp knife (cut into quarters then each quarter into three equal pieces).
9. Roll each piece of dough into a small ball by rolling it in your hands. After you have formed the balls of dough, put them aside and cover them with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for 5 -10 minutes.
10. Flour your work surface and using a rolling pin, roll each ball into a saucer-sized disc. Turn the dough constantly, adding more flour so that the dough doesn’t stick.
11. Repeat with the other balls of dough. Place 6 pita on each prepared baking sheet then cover the discs with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel. Let rest for 15 minutes.
12. Place the trays in the oven. Bake for about 3 minutes. The pita will be puffed up with air and lightly browned when baked.
13. Remove the trays from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Cover with a tea towel to keep from drying out.
14. When cool, store pita bread in a plastic bag.
- You can make smaller pita by cutting the dough into 24 pieces instead of 12.
- Pita bread is good for dipping into your favourite dips. You can also cut open a pita on one side and fill it with your favourite sandwich stuffings, or scrambled eggs, or a mixture of veggies.
- Flattened pita bread can also be used as a crust for a quick pizza.
- Make lots of them and freeze them so they are ready when you are.
- Make sure your oven is clean before baking the pita or you will have a very smoky kitchen!
STEP-BY-STEP – PITA BREAD!
Gather ingredients. Measure the oil, water and yeast into a measuring cup to start waking up the yeast. Mix the flours and salt into a large bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and use one *clean* finger to mix it up into a “shaggy mass”.
Knead the dough until smooth, then oil the cleaned bowl, roll the dough ball around to get a light layer of oil all around it, then cover and let rise. This takes 1-1.5 hours. Roll the risen dough into a log and cut it into even sized pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and let them rest for 10 minutes.
Serve with tzatziki!
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