After getting back from Israel this summer, I was thrilled to discover it wasn’t that hard to find decent falafel, hummus, and even shawarma if you knew the right places to look. However, locating perfectly poofy pitas that could hold a pound of food without cracking or ripping proved to be nearly impossible.
So my fiancé and I rolled up our sleeves one afternoon and made our own from scratch, surprising ourselves with how easy it is. And there’s nothing better than fresh, straight-out-of-the-oven pitas.
You will need:
- 3 1⁄2 cups bread flour
- 1 oz (25 g) instant yeast (4 packets)
- 1 1⁄2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1⁄2 tablespoon salt
- 2 tbs olive oil
Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl. Drizzle olive oil over it, cover it with saran wrap, and allow to rise to twice its original size. Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour and place the dough on it, then divide into 8-10 equal parts. Roll into balls. Cover with a damp dishtowel (not a paper towel, as this will stick to the dough) and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 500.
Roll out each ball into a thin disk, about 1⁄4 inch thick. Arrange on a tray lined with baking paper, and bake for 5 minutes. Keep an eye on them, because this is where the magic happens.
Chances are, at one point you’ve wondered how pita pockets get their pockets. Well, if you rolled them out thin enough, the air inside the dough will heat up and expand like a balloon, separating the top and bottom layers. I stupidly was too excited to take any pictures, but it's easy to imagine a pita balloon.
As soon as you see the pita swell and show golden spots, remove the pan from the oven. If you’re baking them in batches, cover them with a kitchen towel for a few minutes to keep them soft, and to let the air deflate.
Then you stuff them to your heart’s content! If you don’t roll them thin enough they won’t poof, but you’ll still end up with thick, soft and fluffy pitas, perfect for dipping in hummus.