This homemade pita bread is soft, tender, and easy to make—far easier than you might imagine. And watching them puff in the oven is sorta like your own science experiment. Home schooling, anyone?
Why is my pita not puffing up?
Chances are you won’t have any incidents with this pita bread not puffing, as we didn’t experience it at all in any of our home kitchens. However, should your pita not puff and you’re looking to troubleshoot, typically this has to do with the oven not being sufficiently hot. If your oven was cranked as hot as it’ll go and you let it preheat for the amount of time it took you to shape the dough and let it rest, you should be fine. It may seem an excessive amount of time to keep the oven on, but it ensures a consistent oven temperature. Another culprit could be your yeast, but if the dough was able to rise, it should be capable of puffing.
Homemade Pita Bread
- Quick Glance
- Quick Glance
- 50 M
- 3 H, 30 M
- Makes 10 pitas
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt.
If you’re using fresh yeast, crumble it straight into your flour and mix to combine. Mix with the tip of your finger and leave it to sit until a foam forms on the top, then pour it over the flour.
If you’re using dried yeast, place it in a cup and add a scant 1/2 cup of the warm water and the extra pinch of sugar. Mix with the tip of your finger and leave it to sit until a foam forms on the top, then pour it over the flour.
Start adding the warm water to the flour, a little at a time, mixing in circular motions until the dough starts to clump together. Give it a good mix and see if it will form a ball. If there is still some flour residue in the bottom of the bowl, add a little more water, but only a small amount, as you want it to just come together. Don’t worry if there are some lumps at this stage.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, knead on medium speed until the dough looks smooth and tight, 2 to 8 minutes.
Add the oil and continue to knead, either by hand or with the mixer, until combined and silky smooth, 3 to 4 minutes more. At first, everything will become very slippery and it will seem as if it’ll never come together. Have faith. It will.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. If you’re baking the pita bread the next day, keep the dough in the fridge for the night. Make sure to put it in a covered container at least 3 times larger than the dough, as it will grow. Let the dough rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before proceeding.
If you’re baking the pita bread the same day, cover the dough and let it rest for a minimum of 1 hour at room temperature.
Place a baking stone or your heaviest baking sheet in the middle of your oven and preheat the oven to its highest setting. If you have a convection setting, use it.
If you don’t have a baking stone and don’t want to risk warping your baking sheet, use a cast iron skillet instead.
Cut the dough into 10 evenly sized balls approximately 2 1/2 ounces (80 g) each. They’ll be about the size of a clementine at this stage, but will grow to the size of a small orange before you flatten them. Roll each one between your palm and the table without using any flour; you want to press down on the dough and make circles with your palm. The dough will start to resist the pressure and will form a tight ball.
Place each ball on a lightly floured tray, leaving a little space between each one. Allow to rest, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes. This will let the gluten relax before rolling out, and the dough will start to proof.
If the room is very cold, you may need to wait half an hour, but usually if you’ve turned the oven up to its highest setting, the room will be quite hot already.
Dust your work surface with flour and, using a rolling pin, roll out each pita until it is about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick and 8-inches (20-cm) in diameter. I usually roll one way and then turn the dough over and roll the other way to get a nice even shape. You can use a fair amount of flour when rolling, as you don’t want the dough to stick.
Once the pita breads are all rolled out, the fun begins. Working in batches, depending on how many can fit on your baking stone, very carefully place them flat on the baking stone or sheet in the oven. Don’t take the tray out of the oven, as it will lose heat. Quickly shut the oven door.
The best way to do this is to use a peel or a wide metal spatula. There’s a knack to flicking the paddle back so that each pita slides off without losing its shape. You may need to practice, but hey, that is true for everything in life. If a few of your pitas catch on the baking stone and fold a bit as you pull the peel out from underneath, they should still puff perfectly fine and will be hard to distinguish from the “perfect” ones.
Bake until the pita breads puff, 2 to 3 minutes, depending on your oven temperature. Once they have puffed up, quickly remove them.
The pitas won’t take on much color as they bake. That’s normal.
Cool the pita slightly on a wire rack, then stack them in 1 or 2 piles and cover with plastic wrap or place them in a sealed plastic bag. This will help them steam a little and stay really moist. Eat within 12 hours or freeze so that they don’t dry out.