Pita bread is easy enough to make by beginner bakers, fun to make with kids and versatile. Stuff your pitas with veggies, cut them into slice to serve with creamy hummus or enjoy them toasted with cinnamon and sugar for breakfast.
Choosing Your Ingredients
Pita bread contains only six ingredients: flour, salt, water, sugar, oil and yeast. Mixing all-purpose white flour with whole wheat flour gives the bread a heartier flavor. Kosher salt is recommended, although any table salt will suffice. If your tap water is not drinkable, use distilled water at room temperature. Sugar or a touch of honey adds a hint of sweetness to the bread and fuels the yeast a bit more. Rapid rise yeast is potent and easy to work with, especially for beginners. Finally, olive oil is the traditional choice in the Middle East and Mediterranean, but you can use any oil and the bread will still be soft.
Basic Pita Bread Recipe
In a large bowl, mix 1 packet or 2 teaspoons of yeast with 3 cups of flour, 1 tablespoon of honey or sugar and 1 ½ teaspoons of salt. Add 1 /14 cups of warm, but not boiling, water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir the dough with a wooden spoon until a ball forms. If the dough is dry, add an extra ¼ cup of warm water.
Move the ball to your work surface and knead it for about 10 minutes. Kneading combines the ingredients thoroughly and makes the dough elastic and stretchy. When kneading, press your hands firmly into the dough while folding it in half toward you. Repeat this step as you rotate the dough.
When the dough is throughly kneaded, place it in a bowl coated lightly with oil. Rotate the dough in the bowl so all sides are coated with a thin layer of oil. Place plastic wrap or a towel over the bowl and let the dough rise for 90 minutes.
The dough should be doubled in size when done rising. Punch it down, then split it into eight pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then let them rest for 20 minutes covered with a damp, warm kitchen towel.
Place a baking stone or cookie sheet in the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees.
Once the dough has sat for 20 minutes, sprinkle a bit of flour on your work surface. Roll the dough balls out using a wooden rolling pin until they are about ¼ inch thick. Sprinkle a bit of water on the dough to stop it from blistering in the oven, then bake the dough for about three minutes. Enjoy them warm with your favorite vegetables or dips straight out of the oven.
To see a similar recipe made and learn how to punch the bread down perfectly each time, check out this video from Bhavana’s Kitchen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-G6vAcQggnI.
Storing Pita Bread
Your pita bread can be enjoyed for up to one week when stored in a pantry or bread box. The bread may also be frozen in freezer bags for up to one month.
YouTube: Bhavana’s Kitchen: Pita Bread and Pockets