How to make a perfect Pita Bread?

Soft, fluffy, delicious, and moreish homemade pita bread recipe that requires only a few ingredients. This recipe doesn’t need to pre-rise and is baked in a skillet over the stovetop.

 

How many times have you attempted to make pita bread but it just didn’t work?  You have followed the recipe to the dot but the pita wouldn’t puff and form the pocket. 

  I tried troubleshooting like trying different recipes, using an extra hot pan, bake it in the oven using a pizza stone, double rise, use the cast iron pan, and so on…and I would still end up with the same pocket-less pita bread.

So I decided not to give up and investigate a little bit further. 

Learn how to make pita bread


My findings

Thankfully, I came across this one recipe on the YouTube channel called Cooking with Mali. This changed the way I was making the bread and for the first time, it worked. Video here( not in English )

 I was over the moon because I finally found the way to make this bread to puff. Best of all, there is no need to wait for 2 hrs for the dough to rise. It will rise while it is resting and you are rolling the rest of the dough.

Below you can see my step-by-step guide.


Troubleshooting

  • Salt has to be added at the end of kneading ( salt prevents rising)
  • The dough has to be sticky, if too sticky, knead for a bit longer, don’t add more flour ( see my photos )
  • Keep the dough covered at all times
  • Don’t add too much flour
  • Bake the bread in a heavy-based pan on the medium heat
  • When frying, the bread needs to face the same way up as it was left after rolling
  • Make sure that the yeast is active before adding flour and kneading( activate with tepid water and sugar)
  • Don’t roll the dough too thick or too thin
  • Don’t use hot water only warm ( hot water kills the yeast )
  • After rolling all the bread, start baking/ frying the first bread that you have rolled ( gives time to rise )

How to store Pita Bread?

  • Pitas taste best eaten fresh, after cooking.
  • Wrap pita bread in a clean kitchen towel once cooked and let it cool completely.
  • To store the bread, once cold, divide the bread and place it in airtight bags. It will keep well for a few days.
  • You can also freeze the bread for up to 3 months ( thaw before heating up )
  • To warm up, pre-heat the oven to a high temperature, brush the bread lightly with water and place it in the oven ( within a minutes it will puff back up )

Instructions

Step 1. Prepare the surface

First of all, you need to prepare the surface for pita bread to rest. I covered my dining table with an extra-large bedsheet and laid cut-out squares from a baking paper on top. I have used 17 squares.

Step 2. Activate the yeast

Add some warm ( not hot ) water into the mixing bowl. Sprinkle dry yeast and white sugar. Mix with the spoon and leave it for 5- 10min until the yeast is dissolved and some bubbles start to form. That is the sign that yeast is active.

If there are no bubbles after this time, start again with new yeast.

Preparing pita bread dough

Step 3. Knead the dough

Turn on your mixer on the lowest setting and start mixing.

 Add the flour and more warm water, keep mixing. After a few minutes, add the olive oil, keep mixing.

Keep adding more water if needed. After about 5 min of mixing, add salt. Mix it in.

 The dough will reach the point that it will look sticky ( see the photo ) don’t attempt adding more flour. This is how it should look it only needs more mixing. 

Pita bread dough

Step 4. Mix the dough till it is smooth

Return your sticky and lumpy dough back to the mixer and mix some more. After 5 minutes of extra mixing, the dough will start looking much smoother and not so sticky.

It has to be a bit tacky and elastic.

Pita dough ready to be baked

Step 5.Prepare the surface to roll the Pita

Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel (prevents from drying out ) and prepare the surface for rolling. 

Have some plain flour on hand as you will need for rolling. Prepare the surface by sprinkling some flour. You can use a worktop or a silicone mat. Always keep your dough covered.

Preparing the surface

Step 6. Roll your Pita bread

Grab a medium size dough with your floured hands, the size of the tennis ball is ideal.

Place on the surface, press it down and then turn the other side, so it gets coated lightly with flour.

Start rolling gently and turning another way to roll it too. Don’t add too much flour, it will be just enough if you roll and rotate between both sides.

The size of my pita bread was about 5.5-6inch which was ideal.

After your pita is rolled, place it on the baking paper square and cover it with a bedsheet.

One thing to remember is the order the bread was rolled. So when comes to fry it, you will have to start with the 1st,2nd,3rd…

The easiest way not to get confused is to roll the dough and place it in line from left to right or right to left.

The thickness of rolled pita bread
Making Pita bread

Step 7. Fry the Pita bread

Heat up a heavy-based frying pan on medium heat ( not hot ), drop the heat slightly.

Take the first pita bread with its baking paper, flip on your palm, remove the paper and flip back the right way up. Place the bread in a pre-heated pan.

Once you start seeing small bubbles forming, flip on the other side. It will be a matter of 10-20sec.

Fry the other side slightly longer, till the half of the bread has risen, flip back again, and let the pocket to form completely.

Frying pita bread
Pita bread pocket

Step 8. Keep the bread covered

Lay the big tray with a clean kitchen towel and have a second towel to cover the bread.

Once the pita bread is cooked, place it in a lined baking tray and cover it with a towel. This will help to keep the bread soft and not dry out while you are frying the rest.

Keep the pita covered
Batch of cooked pita breads

Step 9. Eat your Pita Bread

Well done, you just made yourself a big batch of freshly cooked Pita Bread.

Tear, share, dip, stuff…this bread is great with anything.

I hope you will give it a go and let me know how did it turn out for you.

Baked Pita Bread

Homemade Pita bread

Enjoy this delicious and soft, easy to make homemade pita bread. It can be used to stuff, dip into sauces or stew, rolled or just eaten on its own. Vegetarian and Vegan friendly recipe
Total Time 2 hrs
Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Servings 17 pita breads

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp ( 9g ) active dry yeast
  • 2.5-3.5 cups 590-830ml warm water ( you will have to adjust this as needed )
  • 1 1/2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 cups ( 1kg ) plain white flour

Instructions
 

  •  Prepare the surface for pita bread to rest. Cover dining table with an extra-large bedsheet and lay cut-out squares from the baking paper on top. I have used 17 squares.
  • Place yeast into a stand mixer bowl and add 1 cup of warm water and 1.5 tbsp of white sugar. Mix and leave it to activate for 5-10 min until the bubbles formed.
    If there are no bubbles, throw away and start with new yeast.
  • Turn on the mixer on the lowest setting.
    Start adding flour into the yeast mixture, followed by 1 more cup of warm water. Keep mixing. Add the rest of the flour.
  • Add 1.5 tbsp of olive oil and a bit more water if needed ( I used a bit more than 3 cups ). Keep mixing.
  • Add 1 1/2 tsp of salt. Mix.
  • Check the dough. It will look uneven and very sticky. Return the dough back to the mixer and mix for another 5 -10 min. The dough should look even and elastic.
  • Remove your mixing bowl from the mixer and cover it with a kitchen towel.
  • Set some flour in a small bowl on the side and sprinkle your rolling surface with flour.
  • Take a tennis size ball of dough ( keep the rest covered ) and place it on to the floured surface.
    Press the dough slightly, flip over and start to roll into a circle. Flip the other side and roll.
  • Roll into a 5.5-6 inch circle that is no thicker than 1/4 of an inch and place it on a prepared baking paper square. Cover with a bedsheet. Remember the order each bread was rolled by placing from left to right in a line.
  • Roll the rest of the pitas in the same order. Keep them covered at all times.
  • Line a large baking tray with a clean kitchen towel and have 1 extra towel to cover pitas once they are baked.
  • Preheat heavy-based pan on medium heat. Once very hot, drop the heat slightly.
  • Take the first pita bread that you have rolled, flip on your palm, remove baking paper, flip back and place it into a preheated pan.
  • Keep an eye on the bread. When the small air bubbles start to form, flip on the other side.
    Don't let the bread to form one pocket just yet. When half of the bread has risen, flip back again.
  • Let the pita to rise completely and form one large pocket.
  • Place cooked pita into a towel-lined tray and cover with another towel ( prevents from drying out )
  • Fry the rest of the pitas the same way in order they were rolled out. Keep covered with a towel.
  • Enjoy the freshly baked bread! If keeping for later, divide cooled bread between airtight bags and store for up to 2 days at room temperature.
    Or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Notes

 
  • Always bake the same way up as it was resting
  • Fry in the order it was rolled
  • Keep the dough covered at all times
  • Don’t add too much flour

To re-heat :

Pre-heat oven to 200-220 C and brush both sides of the bread lightly with water. Place it on the tray and heat up for a few minutes or until you see the pita bread puffing up back again. 
If reheating from frozen, let the bread to thaw first.

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