Pita is a slightly leavened bread, flat, round or oval and varied in size. The term pita derives from the Ancient Greek pēktos, meaning “solid” or “clotted”.
For centuries, citizens of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries, including Turkey, Israel, Syria and Egypt have made pita bread using a recipe similar to this one. Make these fresh and easy pitas early in the morning – they’re delicious with jam and butter.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Inactive prep time: 20 minutes (dough rising & baking)
Makes: Twelve 8-inch pita breads
1 envelope Rapid Rise yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 to 1½ cups warm water
4 to 4½ cups unbleached, organic white flour
1 tablespoon salt
vegetable or olive oil (to oil a bowl)
Prepare the dough:
1. In a small saucepot, combine the yeast, sugar and water.
2. Cover the saucepot and let yeast mixture rise 8 to 10 minutes or until it looks puffy.
3. Meanwhile, in a 4 to 6-quart mixing bowl, combine the flour and the salt.
4. After the yeast mixture has risen, make a well in the flour mixture. Add the liquid yeast mixture to center of well.
5. Begin mixing in the flour from sides of well into the liquid yeast mixture.
6. A dough should start to form – if dough is too dry and does not amalgamate, add an additional 1/2 cup of water.
7. Gently knead the dough inside bowl until it is smooth (2 to 3 minutes). Set dough aside on a plate, wood board or plastic board.
8. Oil the bowl and return dough to the oiled bowl.
9. Cover the dough in bowl with a clean kitchen cloth or aluminum foil.
10. Set bowl with dough on a wood board on a counter (no granite or marble) away from draft. Alternatively, transfer the covered bowl to a cold oven.
11. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
12. After 10 minutes, knead the dough for 1 to 2 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic.
13. Divide the dough into 12 equal balls.
Rolling out the dough and baking the pita breads:
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Oil and flour two 12 X 18-inch baking sheets; set aside.
3. On a lightly floured board and using a rolling pin, flatten one dough ball.
4. Roll out the dough ball into an 8-inch circle and place it on a baking sheet.
5. Repeat rolling remaining dough balls, placing them on baking sheets – each sheet should hold 6 dough circles.
6. Bake the pita breads for 3 to 5 minutes.
7. After 3 to 5 minutes when the pitas puff up slightly or look light golden, turn them over and bake for an additional 2 minutes.
8. Check to see that both sides of pita breads look light golden. If not, bake for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
9. When pita breads are done, transfer the baking sheets to a counter.
10. Serve the pita breads warm, with jam and butter or with salads. Cold pitas can be filled to make quick appetizers or “pocket” sandwiches.
Text and Photograph ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real