Homemade Pitas

6 Mar

Last night, when I wandered into the kitchen trying to figure out what to make for dinner, I was sure I was out of luck.  No chicken, no meats (not even deli meat that I could perhaps use to make fried rice), no tofu, etc.  I didn’t even have pasta, rice, or eggs to make breakfast for dinner. I generally focus most of my meals around the protein, unless I’m making an Italian dish.

But, alas, I DID have protein in the kitchen.  As an omnivore living with a super-omnivore, I tend to forget about those items that are chock-full of protein but weren’t once swimming or walking…LEGUMES.

I had a huge bag of dried French lentils (my favorite kind) in the cupboard, as well as several cans of chickpeas. In the end, I put together these Falafel sandwiches with lentil salad, hummus, and greens.

BUT, here is the best part — Since I didn’t have any pita, I decided I would try to make my own — and I’m so glad that I did!!  I cut out a lot of the waiting time from the recipe, but they still came out great!!! It made what might have been a mediocre meal into an amazing one.  I will never buy pita again, because these babies were DELICIOUS.

Pita Bread
Courtesy of The Bread Bible


3 cups plus a scant 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature

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 flour onto the counter and 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 and gather it together as you knead it. At this point it will be very sticky. Cover it with the inverted bowl and allow it to rest for 5 to 20 minutes. (This rest will make the dough less sticky and easier to work with.)

Knead the dough for another 5 to 10 minutes or until it is soft and smooth and 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 and lightly spray or oil the top of it. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. With a piece of tape, mark the side of the container at approximately where double the height of the dough would be. Refrigerate the dough overnight (or up to 3 days), checking every hour for the first 4 hours and pressing it down if it starts to rise. (I only refrigerated it for 1 1/2 hours and it was fine).

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

4. Shape the dough: Cut the dough into 8 or 12 pieces. 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 and then flatten it into a disk. Cover the dough with oiled plastic and allow it to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Roll each disk into a circle a little under 1/4 inch thick. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes before baking.

5. Bake the pita: Quickly place 1 piece of dough directly on the stone or in the skillet or on the baking sheet, and 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. See how the pita puffs, then, if necessary, spray and knead each remaining piece with water until the dough is soft and moist; allow to rest again and reroll as before.


One Response to “Homemade Pitas”


  1. Smashed Spiced Chickpeas « Simmer Shutter - May 25, 2010

    […] and mash everything together.  Jamie serves it cold but I gave it a touch of heat. Serve with homemade pitas, thin grilled pizza crusts, or tortillas. Or, if you want to make a sandwich, like me, fold it up […]

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