Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How To Make Pita Bread At Home

I have conquered the beast. One who was taunting me from many days, teasing me from far away… I thought to myself, surely I can do this? And I did! I made Pita bread and overcame my fear of YEAST!!!! He he he… seriously though, I had never used yeast before until yesterday and after making pita bread that was oh so good! I can now think of endless possibilities. (and also the fact that I have 400 gms of yeast lying in my pantry…yikes!)

So, Pita bread or khuboos as we call it in the middle east is a favorite in my house with hummus and grilled chicken. So when I opened my freezer yesterday and saw that I had grilled chicken and hummus in there I thought OK need to get some bread. But then I thought why not try to make it? I had bookmarked this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker a long time back but never got around to making it. This recipe led me to Not Without Salt which in turn led me to The Fresh Loaf which is the recipe which I eventually used (they are all the same basically). The dough was very simple to combine and rose so beautifully I had tears in my eyes. The best part was when the pitas puffed up in the oven. I screamed “Latif!!! Come fast, you have to see this!” seriously, you need to do this to actually see your labor of love in the oven. Please read the section About the Ingredients on the Fresh loaf for a lot of tips and information.
Keep Reading for the recipe and pics...

Recipe Source – The Fresh Loaf


3 Cups Flour* (see note below)
1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
1 Tablespoon Sugar Or Honey
1 Packet Yeast (Or, If From Bulk, 2 Teaspoons Yeast)**
1 1/4 To 1 1/2 Cups Water, Roughly At Room Temperature
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Vegetable Oil, Butter, Or Shortening

Notes * - I used one cup whole wheat flour (chapati atta) and two cups all purpose flour (maida). You can use all three cups of all purpose also. According to the Fresh Loaf you can use any combination of any flours but to be on the safe side start with all purpose and once you get the hang of things you can start experimenting to make them more healthy.
** - I used instant yeast as indicated in the recipe. You can also use active dry yeast which needs to be activated in warm water before using.

Place all the above ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir together with a wooden spoon. Since I am used to kneading the roti dough with my hand I found it easier to just mix everything with my hands. Once the ingredients come together to form a ball (you may need to add more water or flour depending on the stickiness of the dough), remove to a flat surface and knead the dough for 10 minutes to get a smooth round ball. I finished the kneading in the bowl itself as that is what I use for my roti dough.

The Fresh Loaf says “The purpose of kneading is to thoroughly combine the ingredients and to break down the flour so that the dough will become stretchy and elastic and rise well in the oven. A simple hand kneading technique is to firmly press down on the dough with the palm of your hand, fold the dough in half toward you like you are closing an envelope, rotate the dough 90 degrees and then repeat these steps, but whatever technique you are comfortable using should work."

The Dough Ready To Be Rested

Take a large bowl (I used the same one in which I had done the mixing) and lightly coat it with oil (I used olive oil) or cooking spray. Place the dough ball in the bowl, rolling it around to coat it evenly with the oil. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and set it aside to rise till it has doubled in size. Yeast needs a warm atmosphere to rise in and since I have central air-conditioning at home my kitchen is always cold. So I turned on the microwave for a few minutes (in convection mode) and after it heated up switched it off. I then placed the dough bowl in the microwave (switched off) for the resting where it rose perfectly in 90 minutes.

The Dough After The Rising (see how it has doubled!)

After the dough has doubled in size (it may take more or less than 90 minutes), punch the dough down to release some of the trapped gases and divide it into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so that it'll be easier to shape.

While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 205 degree C (400 degree F). If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to preheat as well. If you do not have a baking stone, turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it on the middle rack of the oven while you are preheating the oven. This will be the surface on which you bake your pitas. I used my cookie sheet and they came out just fine.
After the dough has relaxed for 20 minutes, spread a light coating of flour on a work surface and place one of the balls of dough there. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough and use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch and flatten the dough. You should be able to roll it out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. If the dough does not stretch sufficiently you can cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again. I found that the pitas that I rolled out lightly using the rolling pin puffed up evenly. So it is important to use the rolling pin gently and roll it out as evenly in a circle as possible.

See My Circle?

Open the oven and place as many pitas as you can fit on the hot baking surface. They should be baked through and puffy after 3 minutes. If you want your pitas to be crispy and brown you can bake them for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, but it isn't necessary (in the batch pictured here I removed them at 3 minutes).

Sorry For The Bad Picture But The Pita Puffed And Slid Off The Cookie Sheet!

Ta Da!! Perfect, soft and chewy pita bread right at home.

Enjoy warm pita bread with hummus (recipe to come soon), garlic paste, grilled chicken and salad. Yum! These can be frozen individually in plastic wrap and reheated again for later.

Happy Eating!


  1. This is awesome!! I have to try this... Thanks! :)

  2. I am your partner for this month's Taste & Create, and I made these last night. Outstanding, so easy. I used half white whole wheat flour and half all purpose. Thanks for posting this!


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