The only 6 simple steps you need to know to make Pita Bread at home like a BOSS!!!
Once you make this soft and chewy homemade Pita Bread that puffs like a Balloon creating beautiful pockets for your falafels, veggie fillings and hummus, you would never even look at the store-bought pita bread anymore.
I understand some of you reading this post might not be aware of these pita pocket bread. And for them let us quickly see
What is a Pita Bread?
Pita is a type of flatbread from the Meditteranean region.
What a Naan is to us, Indians - Pita is the same to the Arabians. This Pita bread is also often referred to as Arabic Bread, Syrian Bread or Greek Pita Bread.
Even though the pita bread dough is similar to other flatbreads like pizza dough or a naan dough few ingredients and techniques used while making pita bread is what gives it the unique puff (pocket) making it ideal for fillings, wraps or sandwiches.
Stay with me because that is exactly what I am going to walk you through this detailed post on how to make pita bread from scratch covering all the tips and especially HIGHLIGHTING all the mistakes that I made so that you do not make one. 😀
Before we begin making the best pita bread recipe, it is important to know the Pita Bread Ingredients because making a good dough is the key to making soft pita bread.
So, What is a pita bread made of?
6 basic ingredients - Flour, Yeast, Water, Salt, Sugar and just a bit of Oil. That's just all the basic ingredients you need to make pita bread dough recipe
Any type of flour can be used to make this bread. You can choose to use 100% All purpose flour or make a whole wheat pita bread, totally up to you.
Today we will be making this Lebanese bread using All-purpose Flour or Maida.
However, I have added just a touch of Whole Wheat or Atta to make this pita dough recipe.
Why do we need to add Whole Wheat Flour?
You might wonder for the reason and if I were you even I would have given a thought about the same.
Well, one of the main reason to add whole wheat or atta is to give that stability to the dough.
You might have observed whenever we try to roll a naan or kulcha made of maida, it often shrinks back to the original size and sometimes becomes difficult to roll too. Rolling is one of the important steps that help to get that perfect puffy pita bread.
And this is exactly where our good old Atta or Whole Wheat comes handy. Due to the addition of that little flour, it makes our job of rolling much much easier.
Choose to use active dry, fresh or instant variety, any kind of yeast would work as long as it has not crossed the expiry date.
If you are using the active dry kind variety, you might be knowing the drill which is to activate the yeast before proceeding with the recipe.
Since I am using the instant variety of yeast I would skip this step and directly add everything to the flour mixture.
It is important to maintain the temperature of the water.
Too hot you would end up killing the yeast, too cold you won't be able to activate the yeast in the first place.
The optimum temperature of water to make this perfect pita bread is preferably around 90 to 100-degree Fahrenheit.
You can consider salt, sugar and oil as just helpers in this recipe.
Now that you know that you just need a couple of basic ingredients that you probably have it even at this point of time, all you need to do is just get up and start baking this bread along with me right now!!
Because as promised in my Best Buttercream Frosting 101 post, this year I want to try and push and motivate you guys to start baking and start believing in the mantra that,
"anything homemade is always better, healthier and tastier."
And if you are intimidated by the world of bread baking then this is one of those perfect basic pita bread recipe to start your journey of bread baking.
Some of you might be subconsciously thinking as to,
How can she confidently say this?
That is because if you have ever made chapati at your home or even watched your Mum making one you can easily master making pita bread.
Even if you have not done either of the above things you will still crack the recipe because I am going to share the mistakes that I did in my first attempt so that you do not do it.
Yes, I could not make the bread puff up in my first attempt so I made this once again noting down all the mistakes and experience and in my second attempt each of my bread, I mean literally all the 10 breads puffed up on the tawa seeing which I danced up on the kitchen grounds 😉
That was a pathetic rhyming.. blah... anyways it is like a child's expression a million dollar brightness when you literally see your labour of love coming out so well.
Here are my 6 steps to help you master the art of making the best ever Pita's
Pita is a yeast-leavened flatbread which means it has to undergo the usual stages of bread making - Kneading, First Proofing, Shaping, Second Proofing and Cooking.
That brings us to the first step. Also every now and then I would be referring the art of making pitas to our good old grandma style of making a chapati because I guess with a connection to something that we eat on a regular basis it becomes easier to understand.
Step 1: Kneading the Pita Dough
First and foremost make sure that the liquid that is water, in this case, is at the optimum temperature which is 90 to 100-degree Fahrenheit in this case. (Yes in each and every bread dough the temperature of water varies)
Secondly, if you are using the active dry yeast make sure to activate it first before proceeding with the recipe.
Since I am using the instant variety, let's just mix all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl - 2 types of Flour, Salt and Sugar.
Always mix the yeast with water that helps in even distribution of yeast in the dough.
Now add the liquid, and just combine everything using a wooden spatula and in the later stages just combine everything to a blob of sticky mass using your clean hands.
It is going to be super sticky but do not be tempted to add flour now.
Once you see no dry bits of flour just transfer the dough to the worktop and sprinkle some plain flour on top.
Start kneading the dough.
As it is just a handful of dough, I mean the quantity is so less I am using my hands to knead the dough.
If you are using a stand mixer, straight away knead the dough for 8 mins and proceed with the next step.
And if you are kneading it using hands, stick along I have some mighty tips to share with you.
Firstly if you are new to bread baking I highly recommend you to watch this video on how to knead dough, this step would really help you understand the right way to stretch the dough while bread making.
The bread dough is going to be super sticky, but that is absolutely fine just keep on kneading. In just about 3 to 4 mins you will observe that the dough has started to come together and your hands are getting cleaner.
Keep kneading, just sprinkle little flour only if needed. I used about 2 tbsp of flour while kneading the dough. You will notice that the dough is becoming less sticky while you continue to knead, as the gluten develops and the flour becomes more hydrated from the liquid.
In about 8 mins you will observe that your hands are all clean, the dough has become super soft and is not as sticky as the way you started with but it is still tacky.
And yes that is an important part - the dough has to be tacky and has some moisture.
Why is it important to get a tacky dough?
The major characteristic of a pita dough is its puff. The big pockets that it creates while baking is what makes it a different kind of flatbread. This is what enables us to make those delicious pita bread fillings that we binge upon guiltlessly.
But how do you get the pockets?
I believe now you figured the inter-linking. Yes, absolutely the moisture in the dough is the reason.
What happens is in the hot oven or on top of the hot stove, the outside of the bread quickly sets whereas the heat converts the moisture into steam and this steam is pushed outwards (commonly termed as oven spring in culinary terms) causing the push in the bread to create the puff.
And since the outside of the bread is already set by the heat the push of the steam creates a pocket in the bread leaving a soft and chewy end product for us to enjoy.
How to test whether the dough is tacky enough?
It is simple when you try to press the finger onto the dough immediately you feel the softness of the dough, but when you try to remove the finger from the dough you should feel some resistance.
Allow this dough for first proofing - 2 hours.
I know proof all my bread dough in the Instant Pot by following this guide on How to Proof Dough in the Instant Pot? Following that method, the instant pot proofing time for this recipe would be 1 hour.
Step 2: Shaping and Rolling the dough.
After the first proofing just deflate the dough and divide it into 10 equal parts. I just eyeballed here and divided it evenly.
Take the dough, give it a round shape by tucking the sides beneath and place it on your worktop. Flatten it by pressing the centre down. Cover with a tea towel and proceed with the next one.
Similarly, give a round shape to all the other 9 dough and place it adjacent to the previous one.
Starting with the first dough that you shaped just roll it out evenly into a circle with a 4 to 6-inch diameter.
Points to note while rolling:
- The dough should be rolled thin. Thinner the dough the more it will puff. The concept is similar to the one while making a phulka.
- It should be rolled out to an even thickness about 1/4 inch. Uneven rolling can cause a certain area to puff whereas the other might not.
- The dough should be rolled without any tears or cracks.
The concept is you want the dough to be thin so that the sides once set quickly, the heat can immediately cause the moisture to convert to steam and start the push in the centre expanding the pocket before the dough becomes too rigid.
If there are tears or cracks while baking or cooking the bread, the steam would get an exit point and would escape from there instead of doing its job of expanding to create a pocket. You might have seen this while making a chapati, if you get a hole the phulka just won't puff as all the steam just escapes.
Step 3: Placing and Second Proofing
Once you roll the dough, it is essential to place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or worktop dusted with flour and then covered with tea towel.
That is because when you keep them for second proofing they seem to get wet a bit and when you try to lift them sometimes it tends to stick to the surface and you would end up tearing it a bit so in order to avoid this better to keep it on a parchment paper so that it is easier to place it on a baking stone or stove top afterwards.
After you roll out all the dough to thin disc keep it for second proofing - 30 mins, so that the gluten has time to rest before baking.
Step 4: Baking the Pitas
The one thing that you have to take care while baking it in the oven or on the stove top is that the medium should be extremely HOT!!
You need that hot conditions to quickly create steam which would eventually create the pockets. If the oven temperature is too low, steam won't puff the pitas, and you'll end up with thick pita bread.
Preheat the oven to max temperature with the baking stone inside so that the stone is also hot when you place the pitas. Within a matter of 3 to 5 mins you will observe the pitas puffing up.
Making pitas on stove top:
You have to use an iron skillet to maintain the high heat level. I would not recommend using a non-stick.
Make sure that the skillet is hot otherwise the pitas won't puff.
So cook the pitas on both sides until they start puffing.
Step 5: The right way of cooking or baking the pita bread
Yes, you read it right. There is a right way of cooking the pitas.
From the above step, you got to know that the importance of heat, but the placement of the pitas is also equally important.
So right before baking or cooking the bread, you have to flip the pitas face down on the stove top or on the baking stone.
Which means the top rolled part would hit the heat first just like how we make an everyday roti or paratha.
The reason for this is that even though we keep the dough covered the top becomes dry comparatively so when we put that part on the stove top first it becomes easier to flip. And once flipped the moisture then helps to push the dough into pockets.
Step 6: Grandma's way of keeping the rotis aka pitas
I believe this final step is a no brainer step. We Indians have been practising this for ages now.
To keep the pitas warm and soft we need to enclose them or wrap them up using a tea towel as soon as they come out of stovetop or oven. This helps to keep the pitas soft for a long time because, the tea towels aids in capturing the right amount of moisture letting the pitas breathe at the same time.
Follow these 6 simple steps and I can assure you that most of your pitas would definitely puff.
Yes, I am not saying all but mostly because sometimes the pitas just don't want to puff.
There is nothing like a fresh warm pita bread!!
For the Pitas That Just Won't Puff:
Don't get disheartened if the pitas won't puff. The first time I tried making pitas at home none of it puffed. But I am glad that it didn't because that's how I learned the science of making perfect pita bread.
Even if the pitas don't puff, these pocketless Pita Bread still turns out to be so so so soft and chewy and delicious and can still be used as a wrap or simply dipping in hummus. Or use it as a base for making pizzas; Pita Bread Pizza tastes amazing or just make pita chips or crisps out of it. Stay tuned that is what I am going to be sharing next week with you all.
So yeah keep all that in mind and please note the
5 Common mistakes to avoid while making pita flatbread recipe:
- Knead the dough to the right consistency. Do not be tempted to add excess flour.
- Do not skip the wheat flour Just a little while kneading, makes a lot of difference.
- Take your time to roll the dough. Don't lose patience or be in a hurry. Just relax. Switch on music and roll it thin.
- Flip the pitas carefully so that you do not tear or make a hole causing the steam to escape.
- Make sure that the oven or stovetop is EXTREMELY HOT
Storing the Dough
After the first proofing, the pita bread dough can be refrigerated for about a week and used as and when needed just like the way we do with our regular chapati dough.
Just pinch out the required dough to make 1 or 2 or the required amount of pitas and store the remaining in an airtight container for about a week.
You can also freeze the rolled out dough by placing a parchment paper between each disc for around 1-2 months.
Or partially cook them say 30 sec on each side and then freeze them with parchment paper between each disc, then wrapped in foil and plastic wrap. Defrost, then toast in the skillet as per recipe.
And here is the detailed instructions to make this quick and easy pita bread recipe
How to make Pita Bread at home
- 2 cups All purpose Flour plus 1/2 cup for dusting
- 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 tbsp Sugar
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Olive OIl
- 2 tsp Yeast (refer notes)
- 1 cup Warm Water
- Combine all-purpose flour, wheat flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir to mix.
- Add the yeast to warm water and stir to dissolve completely. Pour this in the mixing bowl along with olive oil and then combine everything into a sticky mass.
- Transfer to your worktop dust with additional flour and knead for 8-10 mins until you get a soft and tacky dough. (Refer the detailed instructions from the above paragraphs)
- Lightly oil the same mixing bowl. Transfer the dough into it, coat it with olive oil from all sides to refrain it from drying and then allow it for first proofing -2 hours.
- After 2 hours lightly deflate the gas and divide the dough into 10 equal parts. Tuck the sides in of it and give it a round shape. Press in the centre and cover with a tea towel. Repeat the process until you shape all of them into roundels.
- Take the first dough that you shaped and roll it thinly and evenly to 6 inches in diameter. Place it on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and cover with a tea towel.
- Once you have rolled out all the roundels allow it for second proofing - 30 mins.
- Preheat the oven to 230 degree Celsius with the baking stone inside. Right before baking flip the rolled out dough on to the stone and bake for 4-5 mins until it is nicely puffed up.
- To make it on a stovetop make sure that the skillet is hot. Flip the rolled out dough and place it on the hot skillet. After about 20 sec flip the dough and you will observe that the dough puffs up like a balloon in minute's time. Flip it over again and cook on both sides.
- Wrap it in a tea towel as soon as it comes out of the oven or skillet to keep it soft.
- Pita bread tastes best when still warm.
- Since I have used the Instant Variety of Yeast I just dissolved it in water and proceeded with the recipe. However, if you are using the active dry yeast then make sure to activate it before proceeding with the recipe.
- The ideal temperature of water for this recipe is around 90 to 100 degree Fahrenheit.
- Do not be tempted to add more flour while kneading, the dough has to be soft and tacky, not dry.
- Make sure to roll the dough thin. Also, flip the dough right before baking or cooking it.
- Wrap the pita bread in a tea towel to keep it warm and soft. The bread tastes amazing when still warm and fresh.
- Serve the pita pockets with fillings of your choice like falafel, hummus, veggie fillings or tzatziki.
I hope that this post on a simple pita bread recipe was informative and you got to know all the tips and tricks of making a perfect puffy pita bread.
If you are wondering what to serve with pita bread - Here is what we had for lunch the other day: Pita bread with hummus, falafel, balela salad, fresh greens and tzatziki sauce.
Comment below and let me know what are you going to serve pita bread with?
You should also check this post on the Secret Bakery (DOMINOS) style Pizza from scratch.
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I will see you soon with yet another post.