homemade pitas

by amy on 16 February 2012

it’s official – i’ve got bread fever. it started innocently with making a homemade baguette, which lead me to trying homemade tortillas, + now? pitas. if i’ve learned anything from this carbtastic journey (other than the fact that, whoa, i really love carbs), it’s that homemade breads are far more delicious than their store-bought versions + so much easier to make than i imagined. for real – i haven’t purchased a baguette, tortillas, or pitas in over two months – i’ve made them all from home instead.

when making these for the first time, i worried that they wouldn’t ‘puff’ in the oven, which is how the pockets form. my worries were for naught, as each pita puffed perfectly, resulting in glorious pita pockets. i’m not sure what makes them puff – science? a magical combination of ingredients? little oven elves who puff up each pita personally? either way – it worked + the results were fantastic.

oh, how do they taste, you ask? amazingly delicious. they’re soft, tender, + flavorful, with an absolutely perfect texture. they make wonderful pita sandwiches, they’re delicious dipped into soups + stews, + i’m planning to use them to make pita pizzas tomorrow evening + pita chips this weekend. they’re delicious, easy-to-make, *and* versatile – a winning combination in my book.

homemade pitas

makes 12 mini pitas or 8 full-size pitas, adapted from the bread bible, as seen on smitten kitchen

ingredients

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (plus a scant 1/4 cup more if mixing by hand rather than using a stand mixer)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature

directions

1. make the dough: mix the dough 8 hours to 3 days before baking. there are two methods: a stand mixer method + a mix-by-hand method.

mixer method: in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients. with the paddle attachment, mix on low speed (#2 if using a KitchenAid) just until all the flour is moistened, about 20 seconds. change to the dough hook, raise the speed to medium (#4 on a KitchenAid), + knead for 10 minutes. the dough should clean the bowl and be very soft + smooth + just a little sticky to the touch. add a little flour or water if necessary.

mix-by-hand method: in a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for a scant 1/4 cup of the flour. with a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until all the flour is moistened. knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together.

sprinkle a little of the reserved 1/4 cup flour onto the counter + scrape the dough onto it. knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding as little of the reserved flour as possible. use a bench scraper to scrape the dough + gather it together as you knead it. at this point it will be very sticky. cover it with an inverted bowl + allow it to rest for 5 to 20 minutes.

knead the dough for another 5 to 10 minutes or until it is soft + smooth + just a little sticky to the touch. add a little flour or water if necessary.

2. let the dough rise: using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, scrape the dough into a 2-quart or larger dough-rising container or bowl, lightly greased with cooking spray or oil. press the dough down + lightly spray or oil the top of it. cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. refrigerate the dough overnight (or up to 3 days).

3. baking day: preheat the oven to 475°F one hour before baking. have an oven shelf at the lowest level + place a baking stone, cast-iron skillet, or baking sheet on it before preheating.

4. shape the dough: cut the dough into 8 (for larger pitas) or 12 pieces (for smaller pitas). work with one piece at a time, keeping the rest covered with a damp cloth. on a lightly floured counter, with lightly floured hands, shape each piece into a ball + then flatten it into a disk. cover the dough with oiled plastic + allow it to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.

roll each disk into a circle about 1/4 inch thick (don’t roll them too much thinner than that or they won’t puff). allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes before baking.

5. bake the pita: 3 minutes before baking, spritz the top of each pita with a bit of water. after 3 minutes, place 1 piece of dough directly on the stone or in the skillet or on the baking sheet, + bake for 3 minutes. the pita should be completely puffed but not beginning to brown. the dough will not puff well if it is not moist enough, hence the spritzing before water prior to baking.

proceed with the remaining dough, baking 3 or 4 pieces at a time if using a stone or baking sheet. using a sptaula, transfer the pita breads to a clean towel, to stay soft + warm. allow the oven to reheat for 5 minutes between batches. the pitas can be reheated for about 30 seconds in a hot oven or microwave before serving.

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kathryn February 16, 2012 at 8:54 am

Consider my mind blown! Pitas are such a useful bread but I’ve never even thought to make my own. I can’t wait to give this a shot.

2 amy February 16, 2012 at 9:01 am

i think you’ll find ‘em really easy to make (+ super tasty). i followed the instructions pretty much verbatim + they turned out great!

3 Caroline @ chocolate & carrots February 16, 2012 at 9:02 am

I’m loving your bread fever! :-D I’ve never thought to make my own pita bread. It looks SO much better than the store bought kind!

4 amy February 16, 2012 at 9:26 am

it is sooo good, caroline + has a much better texture + flavor than the store-bought kind. i’m thinking about trying a whole wheat version next, which i bet you’d approve of! =)

5 Ashley @ Kitchen Meets Girl February 16, 2012 at 9:44 am

I’ve been waiting to see these, and they didn’t disappoint! I’m going to have to try making them right away…they look fabulous!!

6 amy February 16, 2012 at 10:19 am

i think you’ll have a ton of success with them – i found them even easier to make than tortillas, as you don’t have to worry so much about getting them rolled really thin. do report back on how they turn out for you! =)

7 Steph@TheChickpeaChickadee February 16, 2012 at 10:36 am

They look amazing! So light and fluffy. You are giving me motivation to conquer my fear of baking.

8 amy February 16, 2012 at 10:37 am

that makes me feel so happy to hear, steph! i know you’re an amazing cook, so i have no doubt that you can master baking. i only started baking regularly about a year and a half ago + just started baking breads in the last 2 months – i’ve really enjoyed it so far + hope you will, too!

9 danielle February 16, 2012 at 10:38 am

I have “Bread Fever” too -I made 2 loaves of French bread in under a week.. I will definitely be trying these my pitas never puff correctly :(

10 amy February 16, 2012 at 10:49 am

have you tried spritzing them with water a few minutes before baking them? that definitely did the trick for me – every single one puffed up! from what i’ve read, the puffing only occurs when the dough is moist enough, so hopefully that trick can help you out next time. =)

11 Ally Garner February 16, 2012 at 11:46 am

These look like so much fun to bake! We probably go through a package of pitas/week. The husband loves them for sandwiches at lunch. Hmm, now I’m wondering if I could make a whole wheat version from this recipe too. Thanks for sharing the water spritzing tip too Amy!

12 amy February 16, 2012 at 12:36 pm

hey ally! if you go to http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/03/pita-bread/ + scan to the bottom of the recipe, they offer up a whole wheat variation that sounds like it’ll be perfect for what you’re looking for. =) i haven’t tried it yet, but would love to hear how it turns out! =)

13 Julie @ Table for Two February 16, 2012 at 1:21 pm

ahhh I remember us talking over dinner about this. You’re so amazing! These look perfect and so delicious. I love pita bread and I can’t imagine what it’d be like to make it homemade!! Must try this soon :)

14 amy February 16, 2012 at 1:31 pm

awww, thanks julie! i know you still aren’t sure about this whole keeping-yeast-alive business, but i promise – these are a cinch! you’ll have to try ‘em + report back. =)

15 natalie (the sweets life) February 16, 2012 at 1:32 pm

i love love love making bread from scratch! i have made pitas, but it’s been forever! i need to make again sometime soon!

16 amy February 16, 2012 at 1:37 pm

isn’t homemade bread the greatest? i feel like i’m never going to buy storebought bread again – i definitely have the bread-makin’ fever!

17 Cassie February 16, 2012 at 1:49 pm

I have wanted to make homemade pita for a while now. definitely giving it a try, this looks wonderful!

18 amy February 16, 2012 at 1:50 pm

ooh, i think you’re going to be really pleased with how they turn out, cassie – they are a cinch to make + the results are so delicious! let me know how it goes!

19 Marina February 16, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Don’t forget to send me some!! :)

20 amy February 16, 2012 at 2:04 pm

ha! if only you lived closer, i’d bring some freshly-baked ones over to you right now. =)

21 Rachel @ The Avid Appetite February 16, 2012 at 2:05 pm

i have never made any sort of bread from scratch (except for quick breads of course). these look so beautiful! i will have to try these and your tortillas and baguette!

22 amy February 16, 2012 at 2:21 pm

i waited a long time to try making bread from scratch because i was afraid it would be too difficult – i was soo wrong! you’ll definitely have to report back on how it goes for you when you try it – i bet it will be great!

23 Elizabeth @ chronic venture February 16, 2012 at 2:27 pm

yummm! Amy, these look so pretty and perfect!

24 amy February 16, 2012 at 2:37 pm

thanks so much, elizabeth – they taste just as good as they look (if not better), too!

25 Rachel @ Baked by Rachel February 16, 2012 at 3:00 pm

definitely oven elves! they get my vote ;) I REALLY want to try making some now. I use to eat these all the time as a kid for sandwiches but it was always store bought. Must try soon. :)

26 amy February 16, 2012 at 3:35 pm

ha! i like the idea of oven elves the best, too. =) let me know how they turn out if you try ‘em – i’m sure they’ll be amazing for you!

27 angela@spinachtiger February 16, 2012 at 3:41 pm

I’ve always wondered how pita breads puffs up. Love your word carbtastic. Bread is my total downfall, and these are quite a success.

28 amy February 16, 2012 at 4:05 pm

thanks so much, angela! i have to admit, i was pleasantly surprised by how great these turned out – i figured they’d be much more difficult to make. thank goodness that wasn’t the case!

29 ea-the spicy rd February 17, 2012 at 12:00 am

Mmm…these pitas look so yummy Amy! Wish I could eat one :-) I definitely need to try making gluten-free pita one of these days!

30 amy February 17, 2012 at 7:40 am

ooh, i bet you could make some seriously delicious gluten-free pitas. let me know how they turn out if you try ‘em!

31 Renee February 17, 2012 at 8:29 am

I haven’t had pitas in a long time. I went through a pita kick for a while and took a pita sandwich to work everyday. This is making me want to re-visit using pita bread again.

32 amy February 17, 2012 at 8:39 am

same with me – i go through phases where i eat ‘em all the time, then phases when i don’t eat them for months. i have to say, having homemade ones in the house makes the eat-them-all-the-time phases happen a lot more often now! =)

33 Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) February 17, 2012 at 11:34 am

They look so much better than store bought! I need to try my hand at homemade pitas.

34 amy February 17, 2012 at 11:49 am

you absolutely should, kelli – they’re awesome! let me know how they turn out for you if you try ‘em! =)

35 Jackie @ Domestic Fits February 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm

This is fantastic. I think my entire life has been a carbtastic journey :)

36 amy February 17, 2012 at 3:15 pm

amen (+ ditto) to that! i definitely could never survive on a no-carb/low-carb diet – pasta + bread are just too precious to me. =)

37 Julie at Burnt Carrots February 17, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Yummy! These look delicious! I’m amazed that they just puffed up! I always have such a difficult time getting bready things to rise.

38 amy February 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm

i was amazed when they puffed up, too – i thought for sure that they’d be difficult to make, but (thankfully) i was wrong – they were a cinch!

39 Grishma @ Zaikazabardast February 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm

I made Whole wheat pita bread before and just like you I was unsure about the Puff part :) But it worked just fine and I was so happy to eat freshly homemade pita! I think I will try your all-purpose flour one next time. Looks great Amy!

40 amy February 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm

isn’t it fabulous how they just magically seem to puff up? + homemade pita is just so delicious. i think i’ll give the whole wheat version a try soon, too!

41 Jen @ Juanita's Cocina February 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm

These are BEAUTIFUL! Pinned so I can make them…uhhhh…NOW!

42 amy February 17, 2012 at 6:52 pm

you are so sweet, jen! hope you try ‘em + they turn out wonderful for you!

43 The Waspy Redhead February 17, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Girl, I’m digging your bread fever for sure!

44 amy February 17, 2012 at 10:39 pm

you + me alike. =) there are few things as satisfying as having lots of fresh, homemade bread at hand at all times!

45 kristen @ notsodomesticated February 18, 2012 at 6:54 am

Love this idea!! I’m scared to make bread for some reason, but I think I could probably do this!!

46 amy February 18, 2012 at 11:37 am

i used to be intimidated by making bread, too – all the yeast + rising + stuff just seemed so difficult. thankfully, it’s much easier that i ever expected! =) you should definitely give it a try soon – i think you’ll be surprised at how not-scary it is!

47 Amanda @ foodfascinations February 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Your pita came out beautifully! Mine never look that good. I’ll have to try spritzing them with water. What a great trick!

48 amy February 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm

thanks, amanda. the spritzing trick worked wonderfully for me – give it a try + see if it helps yours out, too! =) i hope it does!

49 Mommyof2Girlz/StephD February 19, 2012 at 7:42 am

I love pitas, but never thought of making them myself…I always thought it would be more complicated. Thanks hun for sharing the recipe, can not wait to give it a try!!

50 amy February 20, 2012 at 7:22 am

you’re so welcome – steph! they’re definitely tons easier to make than i expected. i think they’ll turn out fabulous for you!

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