Once you have experienced a fresh, homemade pitta bread, you will never go back to the sorry excuse that the large supermarkets happily sell you.
With a little bit of effort, and some trial and error, you will soon be able to make these breads quickly and without too much fuss. The result will be a fantastically flavoured flat bread, with a light, soft texture and very welcoming of any delicious fillings that you want to stuff into them! Nothing like the tasteless cardboard that you will have become accustomed to from UK supermarkets.
My Saturday mornings are often spent finishing these off, for the family to enjoy over the weekend. The following recipe is pretty simple and you just need to be organised. These can be made in a single day, however, I would highly recommend making the dough the night before and let it prove slowly in the fridge overnight. This will really help develop the flavour and texture of the finished bread.
This simple recipe will deliver fantastic results and give you fluffy Pittas with the all important pocket to stuff with a multitude of delicious foods.
- 500 grams strong white flour plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 2 tsp dried yeast
- 300 ml warm water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Step 1 Add the flour, sugar, salt, yeast & oil into a bowl (you can either mix by hand or in an electric mixer – with dough hook). Slowly combine the water and mix until it starts to clump together.
- Step 2 If kneading by hand, tip out onto a clean surface and start working the dough, you can add a little extra flour if needed but try to avoid adding too much as over the course of the kneading the flour will absorb most of the water resulting in a less sticky dough. If you are using a machine just let it do it’s thing! It will probably take about 5-7 minutes until the dough looks smooth and tight.
- Step 3 Once you have a smooth, silky dough, form it into a tight spherical shape and tip into a bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for at least an hour (it should double in size). NB – if you have time, I highly recommend at this stage putting the bowl in the fridge overnight to cook the next day – this will result in a better flavour and improved, fluffy texture to the finished breads.
- Step 4 If cooking the next day, remove from the fridge first thing and allow the dough to come back up to room temperature – will probably take about an hour or so.
- Step 5 Next cut the dough into 80g pieces – this will result in 10-11 breads. On the work top (no flour) using your hand roll each piece into a tight ball – the technique for this come with practice, just apply some downward pressure and roll the ball round in circles on the surface.
- Step 6 Place each ball on a floured tray or chopping board and cover with a tea towel – allow to prove for about 20-30 minutes, depending on how warm you kitchen is. They should increase in size by at least half.
- Step 7 Get your oven on to its highest setting and place your heaviest baking tray upside down in the middle of the oven – if you have one, a baking stone would be ideal as this retains the heat better.
- Step 8 Once the dough balls have finished proving, start rolling each one out with a rolling pin into either a round or if you prefer an oval shape. They need to be thin at about 1/2 cm and you will need to be generous with the flour on the work top to make sure the dough doesn’t stick. I would advise only rolling out enough to fit in our oven in one go – I quite often use my small combi-oven to cook these and end up just baking one at a time.
- Step 9 Carefully place the rolled out bread onto the hot oven tray in the oven (don’t take the tray out of the oven). Either use a bread paddle or large fish slice to slide them onto the tray. Close the door to the oven and if you have a glass door sit by and watch the magic happen!
- Step 10 After about 2 minutes the breads will start to puff up like pillows, they will probably take about 2.5 to 3 minutes in total to cook, however, you need to be careful as you don’t want too much colour on them.
- Step 11 Quickly remove them from the oven using the paddle or fish slice and transfer to a clean tea towel. Stack them one on top of each other and wrap in the tea towel. This way they will finish off cooking from the steam that is inside the parcel and it will also keep them moist.
- Step 12 Continue this process until all of the breads are cooked.
As with shop bought Pittas these need to be toasted again before eating, this will just warm them up, ensure the pocket inside re-opens. Either do this in the oven or toaster.
In my household these homemade Pitta breads don’t last 5 minutes and are served up with dinner and devoured by hungry kids by the end of the day. If they aren’t going to be eaten within 12 hours I would recommend wrapping and placing in the freezer as they will go stale quickly.
These pitta breads really are worth the effort, they are such a versatile bread that you can have them with just about anything. I will be including them in many of the recipes that will be posted on this site, so why not get the practice in now.
What can I do with them once they are stale?
The uses for Pitta breads are absolutely countless and they can be stuffed or dipped in a whole host of foods when fresh. However, as mentioned in the recipe due to the lack of any preservatives in this recipe, they won’t stay fresh for long.
However, not to worry, once they have hardened a bit and gone slightly stale they can be gently warmed, stuffed with some leftovers and then toasted in a panini press – AMAZING! Or if completely stale, cut up into crouton sized pieces and fry in butter, oil and a sprinkling of sumac to make an amazing addition to any salad!