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Feb 15, 2012

pita bread

$0.78 recipe / $0.10 serving
Oh the fascinating world of flat breads... Although the ingredients for this pita are different from naan, the execution is almost exactly the same. The only difference here is that you bake them in a super hot oven instead of in a skillet on the stove top.

The extra hot oven (500 degrees) creates a pocket of steam inside the bread that leaves a very convenient cavity once cooled. Stuff the bread full of your favorite sandwich fillings and you've got a quick lunch that's good to go.

I used a little bit of whole wheat flour in my recipe but feel free to use all regular if you wish. The only change I'd make if making these again is to divide the dough into 6 rounds rather than 8 to yield a thicker pocket. But, hey, who needs all that thick bread anyway. What you stuff inside of it is the real prize.

Pita pockets

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Total Recipe cost: $0.78
Servings Per Recipe: 8 pita rounds
Cost per serving: $0.10
Prep time: 15 min. Rise time: 1 hr. Cook time: 20 min. Total: 1 hr. 35 min.

Recipe adapted from Peppy's Pita Bread on

1 1/8th cup warm water $0.00
1.5 tsp yeast $0.15
1.5 tsp sugar $0.03
1 Tbsp olive oil $0.10
1/2 cup whole wheat flour $0.08
2.5 cups all-purpose flour $0.37
1 tsp salt $0.05

STEP 1: In a small bowl combine the warm water, sugar and yeast. Stir to dissolve and let sit for 5 minutes or until a foam develops on top. Once a foam develops on top, add 1 Tbsp of olive oil.

STEP 2: In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of flour (half whole wheat in my case) and the salt. Stir them so they are evenly combined. Add the small bowl of liquid to the bowl with the flour. Stir to combine.

STEP 3: Continue mixing in flour until it forms a loose ball that you can no longer stir with a spoon. Turn the ball of dough out onto a floured surface and continue to knead in more flour until a soft and pliable (but not sticky) ball forms. You should have used around 3 cups of flour total and kneaded the dough for at least 3 minutes.

STEP 4: Place the ball of dough in an oiled bowl, cover loosely and let sit to rise for one hour or until doubled in size.

STEP 5: Punch down the risen dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Stretch the dough into a log and cut it into 8 (or 6) equal sized pieces. Shape each piece of dough into a smooth ball and then roll it out into a flat, 6 inch diameter circle.

STEP 6: Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and let the dough circles rest as the oven comes up to temp. Place a damp cloth over the dough circles so they do not dry out. When the oven is hot enough, place the dough circles on a wire rack (a couple at a time) and place the rack in the oven. Watch the circles puff up as they bake. When the circle has completely inflated but not yet turned brown you can remove it from the oven and put in the next batch. If you let the pitas cook until golden brown they will be crispier and may retain the inflated shape as they cool.

STEP 7: As you remove the pitas from the oven, stack them on a plate and cover with a damp cloth. The trapped steam will soften them as they cool. Once completely cooled, store the pitas in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

wheat pita bread

Step By Step Photos

frothy yeast and flour
Combine the water, yeast and sugar in one bowl and one cup of flour plus the salt in a larger bowl.

frothy yeast olive oil
When the yeast water becomes frothy, add the olive oil.

combine wet and dry
Pour the bowl of wet ingredients into the bowl with the flour and salt. Stir to combine then continue adding flour until it forms a loose ball that you can no longer stir with a spoon.

kneaded dough
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and continue to knead in flour until it forms a soft, pliable, not sticky ball. Use approximately 3 cups of flour total and knead for at least 3 minutes.

dough log
Let the dough rise until double then punch down and stretch into a log.

cut dough
Cut the dough into 8 pieces.

roll out dough
Form each piece of dough into a ball and then roll it out into a 6 inch circle.

ready to bake
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and let the dough rest as the oven warms. When it's hot and ready, place a couple dough circles on a wire rack. Place the rack in the oven and watch them inflate...

pita bake 1
pita bake 2
pita bake 3
Very fun to watch... Pull the pitas out and put in the next batch (be careful with the hot rack). Stack the cooked pitas on a plate and cover with a damp cloth as they cool.

home made wheat pita

This really was a fun project but I'll admit, I think the naan is still my go-to flat bread. The flavor of the naan is so much more complex because of the yogurt and it's texture is so pillowy soft... Mmmm.

That being said, I'm not going to have a hard time eating these pitas. I had actually bought a pack of pita last week ($1.99 per pack of 6, $0.33 each) and the home made has a much better flavor and texture. The fresh pita made the store bought taste and feel like cardboard. Ick.

One thing that I do love about pita bread is it's unique ability to help me scoop large quantities of hummus into my mouth. Something about the pocket shape... it just forms the perfect hummus shovel :)

The DIY Kitchen: Easy-As-Pie Pita

I’ll admit it, I have been on a bit of a baking spree lately. But could anything possibly feel as good as the time-honored tradition of mixing yeast, flour and water?
This recipe is a great recipe for novice bakers from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (my personal Bible). The rise time is short (1 to 2 hours), but the face time is even shorter. Just mix, knead, and wait. Of course, the longer you wait, the more flavor your bread will develop, so if you have the inclination, plan ahead and let this rise up to 8 hours, or even for a full day or two in the fridge. Making pita bread is incredibly rewarding — even if you botch it, what you make will be better than you’ll find in a store.  I paired it with an incredible recipe for Pan-Fried Corona Beans and Kale from 101 Cookbooks.

Easy Pita (adapted from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian)
3 cups bread flour (all purpose will do just fine, too)
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little extra to brush on top
2 teaspoons dry instant yeast
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1) Mix everything together in a large bowl, using a wooden spoon. If you have a food processor, that’s even easier.
2) Add 1 cup water and mix until thoroughly combined. Continue adding water, a tablespoon or so at a time, until everything is thoroughly combined and your mixture has formed a ball. When it gets too difficult to stir with the spoon, don’t be afraid to use your hands. It should be slightly sticky — keep adding water, a little bit at a time, until you get there.
3) Cover the bowl with a plate and set to rise is a warmish space, out of direct sunlight, for 1 to 2 hours. It’s ready when it’s about doubles in size.
4) Divide the dough into six pieces and shape each into a ball, sprinkling each with a bit of flour. Cover with a towel and let rest for about 20 minutes.
5) Roll each ball out with a rolling pin to a pit less than 1/4 inch. They need to be pretty think so they can puff in the oven, but if you don’t get the first batch thin enough, no worries! It will still be delicious.
6) Turn the oven to 375 degrees and let the dough rest, covered while it’s heating. Meanwhile, lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil. If you have a pizza stone, even better, use it.
7) Bake the disks two at a time (or however many will fit) until one side is brown, then flip. You want them to get slightly puffy, but if they don’t, totally okay. Mine didn’t puff as much as I’d like and were still yummy. Each side will bake somewhere between 3 and 7 minutes. If it’s taking longer, your dough is too thick. Try spritzing the tops with water for a better puff.
If you’re indulgent, brush with a bit of olive oil. Then EAT and ENJOY.

Homemade Pita Bread

I love pita bread. Pitas are a flat bread with a large pocket inside, which forms as it cooks quickly at high temperatures. The pocket is ideal for fillings and, in fact, this is how it is traditionally used in Middle Eastern and eastern Mediterranean cuisines, where the bread is a staple. I generally use it to make sandwiches and homemade pita chips, as well as occasionally using it to dip in soups, and always keep some on hand. Often, I buy fresh pita bread from the bakery at Whole Foods, but when I'm feeling ambitious, I use a variation of this recipe to make my own.
The dough is very easy to work with and comes together quickly. In fact, the only time-consuming part is cooking them. Each pita cooks quickly, but you have to be there the whole time to monitor their progress. The resulting pitas a delicious and well worth the effort. You can substitute 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour in this recipe without sacrificing anything in terms of the texture of the finished product. Click past the jump for the recipe.
Pita Bread
(Adapted from this recipe)
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
1 1/2 cups water, warm (105-115F)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3-4 cups all-purpose flour

Combine sugar, water and yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes, until slightly foamy.
Stir in salt and 3 cups of flour, until dough is smooth. Add remaining flour a tablespoon or two at a time, mixing until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl into a ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 4-5 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 hours.
Turn on your broiler, leaving the rack in the center of the oven, and very lightly oil a baking sheet.
Punch the dough down and divide it into 10 even pieces. Shape each into ball by grasping the corners of each piece and pinching them together. Cover the balls with a clean dishtowel and allow the dough to rest, for 15 minutes so they will be easier to roll out.
Roll out until balls form circles about 1/8 inch thick.
Place on baking sheet (you may have to do them in groups of only 2 or 3) and broil for 2 minutes, until lightly browned. Flip over and broil again for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes, until browned. You may have to adjust the cooking time a bit, depending on how hot your broiler gets.
Remove from oven and cool between kitchen towels to keep the pitas soft. Once they are cool, store in an airtight container.
Makes 10 pitas.
[Photo by Nicole Weston]

Easy DIY: Pita Bread

This post was originally published on May 4, 2007

On these beautiful spring days, it's tough deciding how to spend the mornings: head outside and weed among the daffodils or throw on an apron and get floury in the kitchen? Here's a quick bread recipe that lets you do both--Pita! With a relatively rapid rising time (30 minutes) you can have the satisfaction of having your hands in both dough and dirt in the same morning.
Just be sure to use that nail brush in between!

Pita bread is something my family has been making for as long as I can remember. They are so fun to make and puff up nicely, leaving a hollow center to fill with grilled chicken, veggies or whatever you desire. They are pretty amazing just warm from the oven with a drizzle of olive oil.

Here's my favorite hummus recipe, in case you need an accompaniment for your pitas!

Wimbush Family Pita Bread
1 tablespoon yeast
1 ¼ cup warm water

1 teaspoon salt
3- 3 ½ cups flour
Dissolve yeast in water for about 5 minutes in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add salt and 1 ½ cups flour and with the dough hook, beat to make a batter. Add additional flour until a rough, shaggy mass is formed. Knead 8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour if it is too sticky.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into six pieces for large pitas or ten for smaller. I make all sorts of sizes to suit different snacks and meals. Form dough into balls, then flatten with a rolling pin into ¼ inch thick discs. Try and keep an even thickness as this is what helps them ‘puff’.
Let rest on the floured surface 30-40 minutes until slightly puffed.
Preheat oven to 425F.
With a large spatula, flip the rounds of dough upside down on to a b
aking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes until light golden. Stick around for the first five minutes of baking when the pitas perform their magic and puff up from flat pancakes to proud, four inch high pitas.
These store for up to two days well wrapped or frozen for three weeks.