I’ve been making my own pita bread at home for a few years now. Finding them in my local grocery store can be hit and miss, so it started out as a necessity. But, like everything else – once I had them homemade, I couldn’t go back. I figured it was high time I shared it with you guys. These pitas are puffy, pillowey, and soft . Everything that you could possibly want in pita bread!
They’re easier to make than you’d think too. I’m able to put the dough together at 3 in the afternoon, and we’re eating gyros with the pitas I’d made by 6 in the evening. It comes together quickly, and is very workable. To shape the dough, I like to stretch with my hands (like you would a pizza) and then finish with the rolling pin. I don’t like a giant “pocket” in my pita, and this technique seems to help with that. I also like a slightly larger pita, so I roll it thin. But, if a pocket pita is what you’re looking for, just make the dough circle a bit smaller and thicker.
The recipes make 8 pitas, which was perfect for the guys and I to have dinner. Then, we enjoyed pita pizzas the next day for lunch simply by topping with pizza sauce, cheese, and some fun toppings. The boys loved having their own individual pizza to decorate, and I always love turning leftovers into something new. Enjoy!
3 cups flour, plus 1/2-3/4 cup more as needed
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar or honey
1 packet instant yeast
1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups water, roughly at room temperature
2 tbsp. olive oil, vegetable oil, butter or shortening
Mix the yeast in with the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the olive oil and 1 ¼ cup water and stir together with a wooden spoon. All of the ingredients should form a ball. If some of the flour will not stick to the ball, add more water.
Once all of the ingredients form a ball, place the ball on a work surface, and knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes. If you are using an electric mixer, mix it at low speed for 10 minutes. As the dough is mixing, continue to add flour, a tablespoon or two at a time, until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and is tacky but not sticky. (I add a significant amount of flour, so don’t be afraid to keep adding more until you reach the right consistency.)
When you are done kneading the dough, place it in a bowl that has been lightly coated with oil. Form a ball out of the dough and place it into the bowl, rolling the dough around so that it has a light coat of oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and set aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.
When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release some of the trapped gases and divide it into 8 equal 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 will be easier to shape.
While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 450°. 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 it is preheating. This will be the surface on which you bake your pitas.
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 ¼ – 1/8” thick – 6 inches in diameter. If the dough does not stretch sufficiently, you can cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5-10 minutes before trying again.
Place discs on a lightly greased baking sheet or parchment paper and let rise, uncovered, until barely doubled in thickness, about 30-45 minutes.
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.