Pita bread, I think, is one of the most underrated breads there are out there. I truly think it can be used for most dishes if push really came to shove and frankly, I could just sit and eat this soft and chewy homemade pita bread straight up, piece by piece, without anything else. Well, maybe a glass of wine and some cheese, salami, and olives too! Yum. This bread has just the right texture and can be made at least a day ahead of when it’s needed. It has lasted in our refrigerator for up to a week and the texture remains in tact, minus ANY preservatives at all! That makes me smile. I have seriously pondered making pizza with it, sprinkling a little butter-cinnamon/sugar on it, using it for fat burritos, or adding some parmesan and garlic butter to it and dipping it in marinara. Ugg. Did I tell you we are trying to eat healthier around here? It’s really cramping my foodie style. haha My mind wanders to all the possibilities but then I realize you are what you eat and I don’t want to be a fat burrito. Ya know? But, with this homemade pita bread, the possibilities are truly endless.
So, it’s super easy to make, once you get the hang of the yeast/flour part. When I first moved to Montana, I had not one remote clue about yeast. I had tried it a couple times in my city girl life and a couple times here in Montana. It never, and I mean, NEVER, turned out. In fact, my first Thanksgiving here, I volunteered to bring rolls to dinner. What the heck was I even thinking? I had seen this recipe for pumpkin rolls that just had a slight tinge of pumpkin in them but were mostly supposed to be soft billowy wheat rolls with a pumpkin flare.
Well, when I made them, I now know I added WAY too much flour for the dry, high elevated climate I live in and well, I didn’t serve rolls, I served up little brown hockey pucks! You could literally chip a tooth on them. Not my best product and I had to redeem myself as I do suffer from that pesky perfectionism disorder! Smile.
So, the key with this is to add just enough flour to the yeast mixture to do the trick. I explain it in the directions but you can totally do it. I know you can! I owe my new found yeast/flour knowledge to my best friend Trina who is a dynamite cook. Love you lady! Last year in Maui, she was making to die for homemade bread (and cinnamon rolls, and chocolate chip cookies….I think I gained 10 pounds in that week) and she showed me how she adds her flour to the yeast dough towards the end of the mixing the dough….tablespoon by tablespoon until just the right consistency is achieved. (Not a dense rock of dough and not so sticky it doesn’t pull away from the sides of the bowl) Now, I make most of our loaf bread and all types of rolls are truly a breeze to make! Once you learn that the flour measurements are going to change slightly depending on where you live (elevation and humidity) you will totally master it! The same yeast/flour techniques are used with all yeast recipes, including this one. Thank you Trina! My soul sister.
I almost never have bread flour in the house so I make my own. It is pretty simple. You just add the all purpose flour and wheat gluten together and use a whisk to evenly mix the gluten throughout. Voila! You now have bread flour.
Next, follow the directions in the recipe and mix your yeast, water, sugar, bread flour, salt, olive oil and milk in the order stated until you get the texture in your flour mixture like we discussed above. (Tip-Yeast loves sugar, so I usually add my sugar first after the yeast and water have bloomed and let the yeast feast on the sugar for a minute before adding my other ingredients.)
I do remove my yeast/flour mixture from the mixing bowl after the correct amount of flour has been added and I allow the dough hook to knead the dough for 3-5 minutes. Then, I remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place it in a greased clear glass bowl to rise. I do this so I can see if it’s risen completely while I’m around and about. There is something visually appealing and satisfying about seeing a dough you created rising like a soft pillow too. I know I know. Silly stuff makes me smile. But, I do a lot of smiling soo…. I suspect, you can leave the dough in the mixing bowl but you might need to grease the sides a bit before allowing it to fully rise.
Once the dough rises, punch it down.
Then, divide it into 8 equal pieces and roll into a ball. I just put mine back into the greased bowl but you can put them on a greased cookie sheet if you don’t want them sticking together when you roll them individually out later.
Let the divided pieces sit for about 10-15 minutes, then divide and roll out on a floured surface or smush them out on the floured counter using your fingertips. I find that the chewiness of this bread makes rolling out kind of a lesson in patience..of which I have very little. It likes to pull back into itself a little because it has a stretchy consistency, so smushing works for me as well as pulling lightly like the pizza dough is done in the air, using your fists and knuckles.
Once this step is complete, heat up your cast iron to med/high. The pan needs to be hot enough to make the bread bubble up a little, causing those little brown marks of goodness to form on the outside of the bread. If you heat the first one and it’s not bubbling up, wait a minute until the cast iron comes up to heat and try it again. The key at this point is to watch it closely. It doesn’t take very long to brown and cook through once the pan is the correct temperature so keep all distractions at bay because this will be a quick process. I add a little bit of olive oil with each piece of bread I place in the pan and it turns out very well.
I hope you enjoy!
All the best!
- 3 C. Bread Flour (Note, if you don’t have bread flour, mix 2 3/4 C. All Purpose Flour plus 1/4 C. Vital Wheat Gluten-found in the natural foods section.)
- 2 Tsp. Active Yeast (You can also use Instant Yeast for this recipe. Active yeast requires a blooming period.)
- 2/3 C. Warm Water (110 degrees)
- 1 Tsp. Sugar
- 1 Tsp. Salt
- 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 1/2 C. Warm Milk (110 degrees)
- 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil for Grilling
- If using active yeast, add 2/3 c. warm water (110 degrees) to your mixing bowl (I use a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer mixing bowl with dough hook attachment but you can do all the stirring and needing by hand as well if that works for you.) Add your active yeast to the warm water. Allow the yeast to bloom for 5 minutes. It should look bubbly and foamy. If your water is too hot, it will kill the yeast. If the water is too cool, the yeast won’t bloom properly.
- I use the time that the yeast is blooming to make my bread flour. In a separate small bowl, if you are making your bread flour, add the all purpose flour and vital wheat gluten to the small bowl and dry whisk to combine evenly. Set aside briefly.
- Add the sugar to the yeast and water. Then add the salt, olive oil, and warm milk as well as 1 1/2 C. of your bread flour. Using a dough hook in a stand mixer begin mixing the ingredients together on low for 3-5 minutes until all the ingredients begin to combine. Note- you may or may not need to use all the bread flour in this recipe. Humidity and elevation affect the amount of flour needed in yeast recipes. So, in small tablespoon increments, begin adding the rest of your bread flour to the mix as the dough hook works the dough. Allow the dough to knead in the mixer incorporating all the flour one spoon full at a time.
- You will know that your mixture has enough flour when the dough starts to pull away from the bowl in strand-like fashion. You can also test the dough to ensure enough flour has been added by taking a piece of the dough between your thumb and forefinger and pressing. It should be a little tacky between your fingers, but not so sticky that you are left with lots of dough on your fingers after pressing them together with the dough. Knead your dough with the dough hook (or by hand) for 3-5 minutes after you’ve added just enough flour.
- Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel or greased plastic wrap. Set in a warm place and allow to rise for an hour. (Tip-if you live in a dry climate, you may try wetting a dish towel or cloth pot holder with very hot water and placing underneath the dish while the dough rises. It helps with adding humidity. I have also used the oven method. Preheat the oven to 150. Turn off. Place a pyrex dish of hot water in the bottom of the oven and place your dough in the oven with the door closed.)
- Once your dough has risen, punch the dough down. Divide the dough into 6-8 pieces and place back in the greased bowl next to each other. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
- On a floured surface, roll out the individual pieces to desired size. If your dough tightens up and doesn’t allow proper rolling to a size of your liking, pick up the dough and pull it lightly to make the disc of dough larger and or press the dough against a floured flat surface to enlarge it to the disc size you desire…similar to pizza dough.
- Heat a large cast iron flat pan to med/high. Add 1/2 Tsp. or so of olive oil to the pan with each piece of pita. Place the raw pita dough directly on the olive oil in the pan. Temperature is important so let your pan heat up before placing the rolled out dough on it or it won’t bubble and keep it’s soft chewy texture. Brown on each side for about 1.5-2 minutes watching closely and monitoring your heat.
- If using Instant yeast, everything is the same except for the initial mixing of the dough. You can skip the blooming process completely and just add the yeast in with the 1 1/2 C. of bread flour, the water, sugar, salt, olive oil, and milk and begin mixing with your dough hook. All other steps are the same.