Growing up in my parents house it was obvious when dad had a rough day at work because he would come home and bake, whether it was homemade pizza, pretzels, bread, pita, etc… If it included yeast and a kneading process he was all over it, dough was his punching bag. Needless to say, if my sister and I wanted to hang out with dad we did it in the kitchen, as well as our friends who loved to come over for pizza night. I know that this is where my passion for cooking came from and when things seem to be spinning out of control in my life I start cooking. Food is comfort whether it be the act of making it or the joy of eating it.
We were recently in Oregon spending time with my parents and in typical Northwest fashion it was 60 degrees F and rainy outside in July, so my dad and I decided to bake. Or should I say I begged my dad to teach me how to make homemade pita bread which is something I grew up eating. My husband and daughter had never seen pita baked or experienced the joy of eating it fresh out of the oven. They enjoyed the finished product so much that I never got a picture of it, but don’t you worry I got pictures of almost every step up to it. My dad was funny…”take a picture of this because if I was learning how to make pita I would want to see it.” I wish I was able to remember all of his commentary for it was pretty entertaining.
I decided that I didn’t want completely white pita nor did I want whole wheat so I combined three different flours. When choosing your flour you want your average protein per serving to be at about 4 grams. Next to the flour measurements I have added what the protein levels were in the flour I used.
The following are the steps to making pita. We used a kitchen aid mixer. It is a bit of work but trust me, if you have never had fresh pita, you should try it at least once. You will need a pizza stone or bricks for your oven.
If you don’t use your yeast often you will want to proof your yeast. If you know your yeast is good skip to Step 2.
1 cup warm water (approximately 110 degrees F)
1 cup All Purpose Flour with barley (or add 2 tbsp barley malt)-5 grams protein
4 tsp active dry yeast
Stir above ingredients in a glass bowl and let sit covered for 20 minutes. It should look like the picture below.
1 1/2 cups water
4 tsp salt (we used Himalayan)
1 cup All purpose flour-5 grams protein
2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour-3 grams protein
Heat a mixing bowl with hot water. Add your dough from above to mixing bowl. Add water and salt. Add both flours. With a mixing blade mix dough on a low speed for 5 minutes to build up gluten. Dough should begin to pull away from sides like the picture below.
Approximately 2 cups unbleached white flour-4 grams protein
Remove dough off blade and switch to a dough hook. This next step depends on how much moisture is in your flour. You will want to add flour slowly because if you add too much it will get sticky. Add flour 1/4 cup at a time not adding more until it is completed incorporated into the dough. For my dough I needed 1 1/2 cups. Add flour until the dough cleans the bowl. See next picture:
Once you have finished adding flour, mix for 5-10 minutes to build dough up until it has pulled away from the bowl. Lower bowl and let dough fall off hook. Move dough back to original glass bowl. Sprinkle 1 tbsp flour over dough. It should feel silky. Let rest, covered for 15 minutes.
Flour a board and put dough on it. Knead dough by hand for about 5 minutes making sure hands are well floured so it doesn’t stick. If dough begins feeling sticky you may shock it by slamming it against the board. Work dough into a ball.
Divide dough into 4 equal pieces.
Then divide pieces into thirds so you end up with 12 equal balls. Let sit for 10 minutes.
On a floured surface roll balls into 1/4″ thick, 5″ diameter circles. Be gentle because if they tear they will not rise correctly.
Set rolled out dough on a board sprinkled with corn meal (for friction.) Let them sit for 45 minutes, covered. After they have set for 20 minutes preheat oven to 500 degrees F with pizza stone or brick in oven.
After pitas have sat for 45 minutes and oven is preheated, slide pitas on stone and bake. They are done when they blow up completely. We used a convection oven and they took about 4 minutes in a regular oven it may take as long as 15 minutes. Keep a constant eye on them-it’s fun to watch! Take out of the oven and eat or let cool. Don’t burn yourself.
Below is a special Indian tapered rolling pin that makes it super easy to get a circular shape. Plus it looks cool!