Yes, you can buy pita bread at the store, but there is nothing like biting into a piece of homemade Greek pita bread! The kind that is soft and chewy and a little nutty from a dash of whole wheat flour. The only tough part is making sure you get that magical puff in the oven so that your pita bread is a pocket bread. And I have a trick for that!
One thing I love about going to a good, Greek restaurant is when they have homemade Greek pita bread. It’s so soft and yummy and everything a good bread should be. Perfect for filling with some souvlaki or dipping into hummus or just eating by itself.
It always makes picking up pitas from the supermarket a let-down. Supermarket pitas are pita shaped and have a pocket and are improved by a quick saute before serving, but they are designed to have a shelf life. Supermarket pitas are serviceable.
And I don’t want serviceable! I want yummy. I want food the way it is meant to be eaten.
How about you?
I’m figuring if you’re here, you want yummy too. 🙂 So let’s make some pitas.
Before I continue, I want to thank my hand model. My daughter frequently gets me calling her over from her homework in the afternoon to lift up forks and demonstrate how things are done so I can take the pictures. I tried having her take the pictures while I demonstrated, but she’s cuter (yes, even her hands are cuter – don’t fight me on this) and this way I can make sure everything is in focus and set up the way I want.
As you can see in these two photos, she is rolling out some of the dough. First, she rolled out a piece to the 4 inch diameter. Then, after the dough rested, I called her back to roll a piece out the final size, which ends up being about 7 inches. I pulled back the cloth for the photos so you could see the round balls of dough, the small disks, and then the large pieces.
Once you have the dough all rolled out to its final size, it’s time to get them in the oven! Which you have totally heated for the past hour. Right? You need that oven good and hot, not just ‘preheated’ where it’s sort of at the temperature.
Yes, of course you did! Because you want those pitas to puff.
But wait, don’t put them in yet. Before you put them down on your baking stone or Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan (that’s what I have!), you are going to spray or brush them with water. Just the tops. Keep the bottoms dry since it becomes quite annoying to transfer the pitas if the bottoms are damp, and only the tops need to get wet down.
Why are you doing this? Because you want those pitas to puff. 🙂
Really. It’s important and useful to wet down the tops before you bake them. If I don’t use water, I get about half of my pitas puffing and making that wonderful pocket we all want. When I use water? Every one. Every pita I’ve made since I tried the water trick has puffed.
Ahhh. Just look at that beautiful pocket!
It’s ready to be filled with all sorts of yummy foods. Maybe a little chopped Greek salad? Or how about some Greek meatballs and rice? Or some thinly sliced grilled butterflied leg of lamb? Whatever you put in it, just know it’s going to taste even better since you are wrapping your dinner around a yummy homemade Greek pita bread.
– Happy Rising and Puffing, Annemarie
How to Make Homemade Greek Pita Bread
- 2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz) whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- 1 cup warm water, around 105F
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Mixer Method: Add the white flour, wheat flour, kosher salt, and instant yeast to the bowl of a standing mixer. Mix everything together and then add the water and olive oil. With the dough hook, mix on low until the dough begins to come together. Then increase the speed to medium and knead the dough for 8-10 minutes. The dough should be very soft and smooth and just a little tacky to the touch. As you are kneading the dough, look at it and add more flour or water (just a bit at a time!) if the dough looks or feels too dry or too wet.
- Hand Method: Reserve a few tablespoons of white flour, then combine all the rest of the ingredients in a bowl until you have a shaggy dough. Sprinkle a board with the reserved flour, turn out the dough onto the board, and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic and a little tacky but not sticky.
- Shape the dough into a ball and oil it. Place the dough into a lightly oiled mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise in a warm place until the dough doubles, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Meanwhile, about 1 hour before you are going to bake the pitas, begin heating your oven. Adjust an oven shelf to the lowest level and put a heavy baking sheet, cast iron pan, or baking stone on it. Preheat the oven to 475F.
- Once the dough has doubled, use a bench scraper to divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Shape each of the pieces into a ball by pulling the dough down and pinching it at the bottom. Cover the dough with a damp cloth at let it rest for 10 minutes.
- Working with one ball of dough at time (keep the rest covered with the cloth), roll each out into a 4-inch disk. Let the dough rest another 10 minutes to allow the gluten to relax again. Then roll each piece of dough out into a 7-8 inch circle. If it's not working set that piece aside and roll out the rest and then come back to it and give it another roll.
- When you are ready to bake each pita, turn it over and then brush or spray the pita with water (only the new top side - leave the side which will be on the hot stone/pan dry). Quickly place the pita onto your heated surface and bake it for 2-3 minutes.
- As your pitas finish baking, transfer them to a plate and cover them with a towel. Let the pitas cool under the towel.
- Heat a cast iron skillet (or a heavy skillet) over medium-high heat. Lightly oil a pita and brown the pita on both sides. This will take 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- You want the oven to be really hot, so give it the full hour of preheating.
- Rolling and resting and rolling again allows the gluten to relax after you stretch it out.
- To get a consistent puff and pocket in your pitas, don't skip the water step. Wetting the top surface of the bread before baking it allows the bread to expand and safeguards against the dough drying out.
- I have a Lodge cast iron pizza pan that I use for rustic breads, pitas and flat breads. It can hold 3-4 pitas at a time.
- Don't brown the pitas until you are ready to eat them. There is nothing like a freshly warmed and browned pita.