Homemade Pita Bread
Ok, maybe in recent weeks I’ve become a little bit obsessed with grilling flat breads. First I made flatbread pizzas, inspired by Bryn at Writes4Food.com. Then I made naan — without a fancy tandoor oven — on the grill. And now, with my goal of leaving no carb untested, I’ve made pitas.
There are a lot of recipes out there for pitas (all kinds of flatbreads, really), which makes me wonder why there are so many of us who are dissatisfied with store-bought pitas. I mean, is there anything wrong with the ones I get from Trader Joe’s? Well, no. Not really. But let’s face it: nothing from a package beats hot, fresh bread.
So why does a pita puff up and get that pocket in the middle? I don’t really understand the science behind it, but I’ve read from multiple sources that it can be best achieved by spritzing your dough with a squirt bottle a few minutes before they hit the grill. Go figure.
The process is fairly easy, as with all flatbreads. However, due to the time required to let the dough rise, this is probably best suited for a weekend project.
- Between 3 and 3 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
About 4 hours before mealtime, get out your stand mixer.
In the mixer bowl, combine water, yeast and sugar. Stir to combine. Ignore for about 10 minutes until foamy.
Add salt, olive oil and flour. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low until combined. Switch to the dough hook and knead for 7-10 minutes. You may need to add more flour, depending on the humidity level in your area. The dough should be lightly tacky to the touch, like the adhesive on a Post-it note. If you have something that’s more like the texture of glue, add more flour.
Place your dough ball in a greased bowl covered with plastic wrap. Set aside for about 2 hours. Your dough will double in size.
After the 2 hour rest, punch the dough down and pinch off small handfuls, roughly the size of golf balls. Roll into smooth little balls and set aside on a tray. Cover with a towel and allow them to rise for another 30-60 minutes.
Go to your grill and put the cast iron skillet or pizza stone directly on the grate. Crank the temperature as high as it can go; you want intense heat for cooking.
When your dough balls have risen a second time, roll each ball of dough out into a 1/4-inch thin circle on a lightly floured surface.
Reduce grill heat to medium.
Approximately 1-2 minutes before grilling, spritz the surface of the dough rounds with water. Place on the hot skillet or pizza stone and cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the dough has puffed and the underside is golden, but not dark. Flip over and cook briefly on the other side. Serve immediately.
“Oooh! More grill bread!” shouted the Tiny Kitchen Assistant. “Can you make this every day?”
The evening cleanup was a battle over who would get the leftover pitas in their lunchbox the next day.
Note: Some pitas just won’t puff. This doesn’t affect their flavor in the slightest. Save those to cut into wedges and serve with hummus or another favorite dip.