Homemade Pita Bread
printed from melskitchencafe.com
*Note: As with all yeast doughs, I never use the flour amount called for in the recipe as a hard fast rule (unless a weight measure is given and then I pull out my kitchen scale). Because humidity, temperature, altitude and a multitude of other factors can impact how much flour you need in your yeast doughs, I always judge when to quit adding flour by the texture and look and feel of the dough rather than how much flour I’ve added compared to the recipe. This tutorial on yeast may help identify how a perfectly floured dough should be. Use the flour amount in this recipe as a guideline only. Also, I haven't tried subbing in any wheat flour (yet) so I can't guarantee results but I will update the recipe when I've tried it.
*Makes 6 pita breads
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl (if mixing by hand), combine the water, yeast, salt and 1 1/2 cups flour. Beat to form a soft batter-like consistency. Add additional flour until the dough starts to come together. It may look rough and shaggy at first but as it continues kneading, it will come together. Add enough flour to form a soft dough that clears the sides of the bowl (but is still slightly tacky to the touch - see the note above) and knead for 4-5 minutes with an electric mixer or 8-9 minutes by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured countertop and divide the dough into six equal pieces. Roll the dough pieces into a ball shape. Lightly cover the balls of dough and let them rest for 10-15 minutes. Roll each dough ball into a thin disc, about 1/4-inch thick. Do your best to keep an even thickness throughout the entire disc of dough since this helps the dough puff in the oven (among other things). Let the pita rounds rest, lightly covered, for 30-40 minutes until they are slightly puffed.
While the pita rounds are resting, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. There are two methods for baking the pita bread. 1) Use a baking stone. Preheat the stone in the oven for 30-40 minutes (while the pita rounds are resting). When ready to bake, gently lift a pita disc, with your fingers or a large spatula, and flip it onto the hot baking stone (if your stone is large enough you can bake more than one at a time). Flip the dough so that the side that was resting on the counter is now facing up. You want the the side that has been exposed to air (the dry side) to be down on the baking stone and the side that is more doughy and moist to be facing up - this helps the pita puff up. If you bake one or two and they aren't puffing, spritz the top of the pita round with a light mist of water before baking. 2) If you don't have a baking stone, preheat the oven like normal and then when the pitas have rested, gently flip two of them onto a large, rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Again, make sure you flip them so the side that was resting on the counter is now facing up. Spritz with water, if needed.
Bake the pitas for 10 minutes, until they are starting to brown very lightly on top and they have puffed several inches high. Keep in mind, though, that it won't be unusual to have some pitas that just refuse to puff. Still take them out after 10 minutes - they will make great flatbreads and will still taste delicious even if they don't have the magical pocket inside. The trick to great pita puffing is to roll the pita evenly and to make sure the dough isn't dry on top when it goes in the oven (hence the reason for flipping the pita onto the baking stone or baking sheet). Don't get discouraged if your pitas don't all puff. I had some non-puffers and we made little pizzas out of them and/or used them to roll around the filling instead of stuffing inside the pita. The baked and cooled pitas can be frozen or stored covered at room temperature for 1-2 days.