homemade pita – israeli style

8th March 2019

Making pita bread feels like magic!  It is surprisingly easy to make and starts with a simple yeast dough that gets baked in a very hot oven. The heat activates the yeast and creates steam, which makes the dough puff up dramatically, forming its signature pocket. The pita will deflate as soon as it cools, but the pocket remains.

To note : 

  • It is important that the temperature in the oven is very hot and stays hot.
  • A pizza stone is very helpful to have when making pita, however,  preheating a baking tray works just as well.
  • To ensure a pocket, don’t roll your pita out too thin.

homemade pita

Makes 8 medium pita

ingredients

1½ cups warm water

2½ tsp dry yeast

1½ Tbsp sugar

3 Tbsp olive oil

3¾ cups/490g all-purpose flour

1 tsp fine rock salt

preparation

Grease a large bowl with oil or ghee. Set aside.

In a bowl with a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or a large bowl (if mixing by hand), combine the water, yeast, salt. Let it sit for 5 minutes, at which point the mixture should look foamy.

Add the salt and oil, and then gradually add the flour with the mixer running on low speed.

Knead the dough for 5 minutes, it will look a bit shaggy at first but as it continues to knead, it will come together.

After 5 minutes if the dough is still sticking to the bowl add a tablespoon of flour at a time so that the dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Do not add too much flour. The dough should be smooth and slightly sticky.

Using oiled hands or a bread scraper place the dough in the oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth or a beeswax sheet to rest at room temperature until doubled in size, 1 – 2 hours.

Using an oiled bread scraper or a knife, turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and divide into 8 equal portions – approximately 105g each.

Flour your hands and mould each into a ball by stretching the top and tucking the edges under, achieving a round shape with a smooth top. This is a great video demonstrating how to do this – jump to 3:00 mins.

Place the balls 1-inch apart on a well-floured board, cover them with an oiled sheet of plastic wrap and let them rise for 30 minutes.

While the pita rounds are resting, preheat the oven with the baking stone inside to 250C/480F.

Use a rolling pin to lightly roll out the balls of dough into circles, ¼ -½ inch thick and approximately 13 -14 cm in diameter, you don’t want to press out all the air and make them too thin. Do your best to keep an even thickness.

If using a pizza stone, gently lift a pita, with your fingers and flip it onto the hot baking stone (if your stone is large enough place three more pitas onto the baking stone) – bake for 5 minutes, or until cooked through and puffy. You don’t want them to brown.

Take out of the oven and repeat with the remaining four. Cool on a rack. Fill with home-made hummus and salad or the next day cut into triangles, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with za’atar and toast in the oven to serve with your favourite guacamole.

Suggestions

If using a baking tray, preheat the baking tray when resting the pita rounds and when sufficiently hot flip the pita onto the tray and bake as above.

Variations

For a whole wheat variety, replace some of the all-purpose flour with 1¾ cups/230g of whole wheat flour.

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