It’s Not Flatbread

Pitas

Whoopie cushions.

That’s what you should see when you take homemade pita bread out of the oven.

Not flatbread.

Pita

Pitas do look like flatbread going into the oven, though.

That’s when the magic happens.

Pitas in the oven

Steam causes the dough to puff up, making the empty pocket inside.

Pita

So if they turn out flat, something’s wrong.

(Although you shouldn’t be discouraged if you get a few flat ones along the way—serve them up as mini pizza crusts, or just plain flatbread.)

Pita

For perfect pitas, though, here’s what you need to remember:

Don’t let the dough dry out.

Pitas

You can avoid this by 1) using as little flour as possible when rolling them out, and 2) keeping the dough covered whenever you’re not working with it.

Pita

If you keep these things in mind, success is only a few tries away.

Pita

If your first attempt flops, though, these tips will also help you identify (and avoid) the problem.

And success or failure, feel free to leave a comment! I’d love to know of your success or offer help with problems.

Pitas

You can use white or whole wheat flour for this recipe. Choose one, or blend them in any ratio. You can even use rolled oats for about a fourth of the amount (probably more, if you grind it into flour).

I recommend using whole wheat flour if it’s your first try. It makes the dough less sticky and easier to work with.

The type of oil is also your choice (I used olive). This basic recipe is flexible, so feel free to jazz it up with honey, seeds, or spices. I threw some Italian herbs into this batch, and they were great.

Pitas

The best part of making pitas is sharing the wonder with an audience. Once you feel confident of your abilities, invite anyone within earshot of the kitchen to watch through the oven door—especially kids!

Watching Pitas

Pita Bread

  • 1 C plus 2 T warm water
  • 1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 tsp additional seasonings, if desired
  • 3 C flour

Dissolve yeast in water. Stir in next three ingredients, then stir into flour in a large bowl.

On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for several minutes or until smooth (remember to use as little flour as possible).

Place dough in a bowl and cover. Set aside to rise in a warm place for about an hour.

Cover dough

(Note: You can also get this far with a bread machine, if you prefer.)

Dough

When dough has risen, punch down and divide into 8 pieces (you can make a couple more—or fewer—if you adjust the size slightly).

Divide dough

Shape each piece into a ball, and lightly flour your countertop again. Roll each piece into a circle about the size of your hand (that’s close to 7 inches if you care to measure).

Rolled dough

The countertop MUST be floured.

If it isn’t, the dough will stick to the surface, and you won’t be able to lift the pitas without wrecking them.

Risen dough

Cover the pitas (so they won’t dry out) and let them rest on the counter for about half an hour. They should be slightly puffy at the end of the time.

Pita dough

Heat your oven to 500° F and place pitas on a wire cooling rack.

Only bake a few at a time, and be sure to handle them gently (I suggest using a spatula or bench knife to lift them off the counter).

Pitas in oven

Bake for about 4 minutes—or until the pitas are puffed and beginning to brown.

Pitas in oven

Tada!

Now, when you remove these delightful little balloons from the oven, they’ll be a bit crispy on the outside.

Don’t worry. Wrap them in a damp towel until they soften.

Pitas in towel

Then split them in half and stuff your favorite things inside—or enjoy them plain (because they are that good).

Split pita

Pitas are a must for homemade gyros—but they also work for PBJ, grilled cheese, tacos, or whatever else you dream up.

Gyro meat

I surprised my family with homemade gyro meat (I used turkey instead of lamb) and tzatziki sauce from a fantastic Kalyn’s Kitchen recipe.

Tzatziki

You can store the pitas in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

If you think freezing them will make them last, though, don’t count on it. A few seconds in the microwave is enough to thaw them, so they tend to disappear as soon as they’re discovered.

But when they’re so much fun to make, that’s hardly a problem anyway.

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