I added pita bread to my “30 Things to Make While I’m 30” because my first time making it was a complete and total flop. It was one of the first yeast recipes I attempted and it did not go well. I blame it on the lack of thermometer to gauge the temperature of the water. Yeah…I was that clueless back then. Yikes.
Luckily, I have now acquired a thermometer and lost my fear of working with yeast. Good thing, because these pita were so easy to make and so, so tasty. I’ll never go back to store-bought cardboard pita again.
Whole Wheat Pita Bread
originally from Gourmet, May 2003
2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast (one packet)
1 TBSP honey
1 1/4 c. warm water (105-115 Farenheit), divided
1 1/2 c. bread flour, divided
1 1/2 c. whole-wheat flour, divided
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
cornmeal, for dusting
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, honey and ½ cup of the water. Stir gently to blend. Whisk 1/4 cup each of the bread flour and whole-wheat flour into the yeast mixture until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes.
2. Remove the plastic wrap and attach the dough hook to the mixer. Add in the remaining water (making sure it is the correct temperature), bread flour, whole-wheat flour, olive oil and salt. Knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about eight minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat, and let rise in a warm draft-free place, about one hour, until doubled in size.
3. Place an oven rack in the middle position. Place a baking stone in the oven (if using) and preheat to 500 degrees Farenheit, if cooking the pita right away.
4. Once the dough has risen, transfer to a lightly floured work surface, punch down the dough and divide into eight equal pieces. (If not baking right away, you may freeze the dough, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and placed in an airtight freezer bag or container. To use, thaw in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before continuing with directions.)
5. Form each piece into a ball. Flatten one ball at a time into a disk, then stretch out into a 6-7 inch circle. Transfer the rounds to a baking sheet or other work surface lightly dusted with cornmeal. Once all the rounds have been shaped, loosely cover with clean kitchen towels. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, until slightly puffy.
6. One at a time, transfer four pitas onto the baking surface. Bake two minutes, until puffed and pale golden. Gently flip the pitas over using tongs and bake two minutes more. **Note: I used a baking stone, but these may be baked directly on oven racks, as well.
7. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Repeat to bake remaining pita. Store in an airtight container up to three days.