If you’ve only ever bought prepackaged pitas to eat as flatbread, pocket sandwiches or chips, baking your own will bring surprises – and not just in flavor. Once you set the timer, peek in the oven to watch the flat dough rounds puff into flour-dusted pillows.
After baking, you want these pillows to collapse so that they can be cut without cracking. To pull this off, only roll out the dough on one side and lean toward underbaking; pitas continue to firm up as they cool.
For best results with sourdough, weigh the ingredients on a kitchen scale (volume measurements in this recipe are approximates). I’ve listed my favorite flour blend for pita bread, but you can replace the semolina with whole-wheat or all-purpose flour or use all white flour.
If you need sourdough starter, my sixth annual giveaway is in full swing. The first week alone, I surpassed last year’s 154-packet record, but I’ll keep dehydrating and mailing sourdough starter through January 31. Fill in the giveaway form at TwiceAsTasty.com.
Pillowy Sourdough Pita
Makes 8 rounds
200 grams (about 2/3 cup) sourdough starter (100% hydration)
225 grams (about 1 cup) water
20 grams (about 2-1/2 tablespoons) olive oil
80 grams (about 1/2 cup) semolina flour
145 grams (about 1-1/4 cups) whole-wheat flour
200 grams (about 1-3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
10 grams (about 1-1/2 teaspoons) granulated sugar
8 grams (about 1-1/2 teaspoons) sea salt
Set a large bowl on a kitchen scale. Measure in the starter, the water and oil and finally the flours and sugar, stirring after each group to form a sticky dough. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel; let rest for 30 minutes. Feed your starter.
Add the salt and turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead lightly for about 30 seconds, until the dough forms a ball. Cover with the damp towel; let rest for 20 minutes. Repeat the knead and rest cycle until you have kneaded the dough three times over about an hour.
After the third kneading, divide the dough into eight pieces, shape them into balls and place them on a floured baking tray. Cover the tray with a damp towel. Refrigerator for at least one hour and up to 24 hours.
Place a baking stone in the oven and set it to 485°F. Use a rolling pin to lightly roll out each chilled dough ball on one side, forming an oval about 3/8 inch thick. Let the ovals rest at room temperature while the oven heats.
When the oven is hot, slide a couple of ovals onto the baking stone in a quick motion. Bake for five to seven minutes, until they puff into pillows with minimal color change, and then carefully remove them from the oven to a wire rack. Continue until you have a pile of pillows. When cool, cut into pocket halves or in wedges for dippers or to bake again into chips. Freeze any freshly baked pitas that you won’t eat in a few days.
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