Pita Bread

Pita Bread

If you like your pita bread to be soft, fluffy and light, then this is a super easy pita bread recipe. I always wondered if it is worth making pita bread at home until I started baking them at home. The home baked ones are super soft and fills the house with warm, fragrant bread smell.

The first time I ate a ‘puffed’ pita was around 10 years ago in Cairo. Our flight was delayed, and we reached our hotel extremely late and decided to have a quick meal. The pita’s that were served were puffed up like a balloon! One bite of that pita and I knew I could never go back to eating the store-bought pitas.  

Over the years, I have had lots of failed attempts at making a soft and fluffy pita at home. I have spent a lot of time researching what makes the pita puff and how to make them soft. Finally, lots of tries and failed attempts and I think I have nearly mastered the art of pita baking.

I always feel pita is a close relative of a ‘phulka’ which is an Indian bread. Although flat in appearance, they are designed to puff up during baking/cooking and then sink, creating a hollow soft interior for soaking up the sauces and dips.

Ingredients

1 cup plain flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon dried yeast
1 teaspoon caster sugar
150 ml lukewarm water
1 teaspoons milk powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

Step-1

Put the yeast, sugar and water in a bowl and set it aside for 3-4 minutes until the mixture begins to bubble up and turn frothy.

Step-2

Place the flour, milk powder and salt in a bowl and mix it using a spoon.

Add oil to the frothy yeast mixture.

Step-3

Pour in the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients and knead it for 6-7 minutes until it comes together as a ball. The dough should be smooth, soft and elastic and the dough should not stick to the hands. (add more water if needed, or if its too wet then add a couple of tablespoons of flour).

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover the bowl using cling film or tea towel. Place the bowl somewhere warm for 1-2 hours until the dough has risen.

Step-4

After the dough has risen transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and make round balls. You should be able to make 4-5 balls from this dough. Cover the balls and let them rest for 10-15 minutes.

Step-5

Dust some flour on the balls and roll the dough into circles using gentle hands. They should be around 10-12 cm wide circles and should be around 5mm in thickness.

Cover them once again with damp cloth and set aside for 20-30 minutes to prove.

Step-6

Preheat oven to 250C/475F/Gas 9.

Place the baking trays that you will be using to bake the bread to heat up too. Once the pita has proven for 20-30 minutes and the oven is hot, then gently place the pita on the hot trays making sure the ends are not overlapping.

Bake for 4-5 minutes or until they puff up and are slightly golden. When you take them out from the oven, cover the warm Pita with a kitchen towel to keep them moist.

Serve warm!

Tips & Variations

  1. You can also use only plain flour while making the pita.
  2. The dough for pita is proven 3 times. Firstly, immediately after kneading to activate the yeast, secondly after making balls for 10 minutes and the lastly for 20 minutes after rolling them.
  3. I use damp kitchen towels on each rolled pita to keep them moist. You can use damp tea towel.
  4. I prefer to make the dough in my mixer with a dough hook attachment. You can knead with hands.
  5. While rolling the pita, make sure to dust the balls with flour as they should not be sticking.
  6. The pitas do not take long to bake and only have a slight golden colour. Do not over bake them or they will turn out to be hard.
  7. Once baked keep them covered with a dry tea towel to maintain the moisture. This is particularly important as since the puffed pitas are thin, you want them to reabsorb some of that steam so that they stay soft rather than becoming hard and brittle.
  8. High heat is extremely important for pitas, so if you have a standard oven, I recommend preheating at the maximum temperature.
  9. Please do NOT open the oven while the pita is baking.
  10. Dough needs to be well hydrated, if it is too dry it won’t generate steam and pitas will be flat.
  11. Roll the pita evenly as uneven rolling can cause a certain area to puff whereas the other might not.
  12. The dough must be rolled without any tears or cracks.
  13. Baking pita at home is easy; it just requires some patience. I would recommend giving yourself time while making pita so that you are not rushing the proving times or preheating the oven.

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