This pita bread recipe makes amazingly soft and fluffy pitas. If you’re in the U.S. and are used to the cardboard rounds sold at supermarkets here as “pita bread,” you’ll be amazed once you try the real thing.
The yeasty, delicious aroma, the chewy texture and the delicate taste will get you hooked immediately. There’s one caveat though: once you try these, you won’t be able to go back to eating supermarket cardboard pita.
The dough in this pita bread recipe is mixed by a bread machine. I own a Sunbeam bread machine, and the small investment (around $50) was very much worth it.
If you don’t have a bread machine, you can prepare the dough by hand. Directions for making dough by hand are provided below.
Makes 12 pita bread rounds
1-1/4 cups warm milk (I use 2%)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups bread flour (all-purpose should work)
Up to 1/4 cup more for flouring the work surface
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rapid rise yeast or bread machine yeast
1. Add ingredients to a 1-1/2- or 2-pound bread machine according to manufacturer’s directions. Select dough cycle. When cycle is complete, remove dough from machine. Cover with a clean tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
This is what the dough looks like when you remove it from the machine. It’s soft and elastic – almost spongy:
2. Divide dough into 12 portions, each weighing about 2oz. Shape each portion into a smooth ball. Mine are not perfectly smooth and that’s OK:
3. On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll each ball into a 6-inch circle. If dough is sticky, add just as little flour as it takes to make it workable, but don’t add too much.
4. Place rounds on two ungreased baking sheets, 6 rounds on each. Cover with a clean towel and let rise about 30 minutes or until slightly puffed. Meanwhile, heat oven to 500 degrees F and adjust oven rack to lowest position. I place the covered pita rounds next to the warming oven – it helps the dough rise.
5. Bake pitas for 4 minutes, until puffed. This is what the pitas look like in the oven right before I remove them:
6. Cool for a few minutes on a wire rack:
Repeat with remaining dough. You can stuff pita pockets with so many things, including hummus and veggies, scrambled eggs, chicken or egg salad. They are best eaten right away, but they also freeze well. Warm a single frozen pita in the microwave, on a paper towel, 10-15 seconds on each side, for a fresh-out-of-the-oven taste and texture.
Whole Wheat Pita
Pitas made with whole wheat flour are not as soft as those made with white flour, but if you adjust the amounts of liquids and yeast, they can still turn out fabulous. Check out this recipe for whole wheat pita bread.
Sometimes you won’t get a pocket!
It’s true. I don’t know why this happens. I almost always get that magical pocket that enables me to stuff the pita bread:
But once in while I just don’t. They usually puff dramatically during the last minute of baking. If it hasn’t happened after 5 minutes, it probably won’t happen, so you’d better remove the pita rounds from the oven rather than risk drying them out. But worry not: if you don’t get a pocket, just use them as flatbread. They are still delicious!
To make without a bread machine:
I used to make homemade pita bread before I bought my bread machine. These pitas are excellent too, although not as soft as the ones I make in my bread machine. I got this recipe from my mother in law, who still makes these wonderful pitas for us whenever she visits, to the delight of my daughters.
1 packet active dry yeast
1 Tbs honey
0.5 cup warm water + 1.5 cups warm water
4 cups all-purpose flour and extra for flouring
1 tsp salt
Olive oil for light oiling
1. Combine yeast with honey and 0.5 cup water and let stand for 10 minutes. This activates the yeast.
2. Sift 3 cups flour with salt and add yeast mixture.
3. Add 1 more cup of flour and 1.5 cups water, mix with wooden spoon and then with hands.
4. Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 5 minutes. For soft pitas, dough should be a little sticky. If it’s dry, add a little more water (1 TBS at a time).
5. Lightly oil the dough surface and a clean bowl. Put the dough in the bowl, cover with a clean dishtowel and let rise for about 1.5 hours.
6. Continue with step 2 in the bread machine instructions – dividing dough into portions.