Bread is a prime example of the beauty of simple food. Essentially, bread is made of flour, water, yeast, and salt. These incredibly basic ingredients come together to become the well-known and much beloved staple of people across the globe.
Unfortunately, making bread has become somewhat of a lost art with the convenience of store-bought bread. This is a shame, because it is NOTHING like homemade. I learned this very quickly when I started to learn to make bread. Unlike the bland, spongy bread I was used to, the bread I made at home was fresh and full of flavor! I fell in love with it and the whole process. The feel of the soft, moist dough between my hands. The heavenly aroma wafting from the oven and filling the air. The satisfaction of transforming some water and flour in a bowl into a beautiful loaf of bread. There’s really nothing quite like it. And I’ve been unable to revert back to store-bought ever since. Yes, it takes some time and effort to make your own. But in my humble opinion, it’s absolutely worth it.
Pita bread is a particular form of bread that has made an appearance in our home of late. I make whole wheat sandwich bread and french bread a lot, so I wanted to try my hand at something a bit different. We also have homemade hummus almost weekly, so having fresh pita bread to go with it is fabulous! The pita bread has a soft, pillowy inside encased in a crisp, thin crust. There is also a pocket that forms which is perfect for filling with any kind of meat, veggies, salad, eggs…you name it. But of course the pita bread by itself is amazing dipped in hummus, tahini or yogurt sauce, or what ever you like. My personal favorite is torn pieces of pita bread dipped in extra-virgin olive oil. Simple. And absolutely divine.
Now this recipe may look a little intimidating at first glance, mainly because there are a lot of steps involved. But trust me. Once you do it a few times you’ll be making this pita bread as often as I do now, because as soon as you get a taste, you’ll soon be craving for more!
There are two ways to make the pita bread. You can bake it in the oven on a pizza stone, or in a skillet over the stove. The oven method is faster, as you can fit more on the stone at one time. But you also won’t get that really nice charred look that you get with the skillet. What I like to do is bake them in the oven and then later, each time I want to have pita bread, I’ll reheat one in the skillet until it turns brown on each side and slightly crisp.
Either way you make it, homemade pita bread is well worth the effort. Even if you don’t make it regularly, it’s a real treat to have on occasion and a wonderful, rewarding skill to learn. I hope you’ll give this recipe a try and discover for yourself the beauty of simple. If you have any questions, please comment below and I’d be more than happy to answer!
1 cup warm water (not hot)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Stir together the water, yeast, salt, and oil in a bowl. Let stand for a minute or two to let the yeast dissolve. Add the flours and stir until a moist ball forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic.*
Drizzle some olive oil in a clean bowl (if you want, just use the bowl you used to combine the ingredients). Transfer the dough to the bowl and coat with the oil. Cover with a damp towel and let rise for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.
Deflate the dough and turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide into 8 equally-sized portions and roll each of them into tight balls (work the dough in a circular motion between the palm of your hand and the counter). Let the balls rest on a floured surface and cover until they puff up a little, about 20 minutes. Using a rolling pin, flatten each ball into a disk about 6-8 inches in diameter. Again, let the disks rest on a well-floured surface to let them rise for about 20 minutes.
The pita bread can be finished two ways, in the oven or on the stove top.
Oven Method: Heat a pizza stone in a 350 degree oven. Place as many disks that will fit comfortably onto the stone and bake for about 5 minutes, or until they puff up like a balloon. Repeat with the rest.
Stovetop Method: Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium low to medium heat. When hot, place the disks one at a time onto the skillet and cook each side, flipping when brown spots begin to form.
*Windowpane Test: To know if the dough has been kneaded enough, tear a small portion of dough off and roll into a ball. Holding it up to a window, stretch it slowly with your fingers. If the dough becomes translucent and you can see the light from the window coming through, you’ve kneaded it enough. If it tears before getting to that point, keep kneading.