Pitas are a bread I grew up eating and have missed greatly. The pitas in the United States are these sad, dry things that only resemble what I ate as a child in that they have a pocket. My goal with this recipe is to achieve a pita that is light, fluffy, soft, and having a pocket would be nice too.
I heard people do this in the oven, why a are you doing it on the stovetop?
I’ve also seen it done in the oven though I’ve never tried it myself. I like the control I get when I do it on the stovetop and if I get multiple pans going, it’s as fast, if not faster, than the oven method.
32g (1 1/2 Tbsps) granulated sugar 7g (1 Tbsp) active dry yeast 1/2 cup lukewarm water 1kg all-purpose flour 1 1/2 tsp salt 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil 2 1/2 cups water
To keep the dough from drying out I brought out all of my kitchen towels (6-8) and had cut out 20 roughly 6×6 inch sheets of parchment on which my rolled out pitas could rest.
ugar, yeast and 1/2 cup lukewarm water were added to the standing mixer and allowed a few minutes for the yeast to activate. You can tell it’s ready for use when a thin layer of yeast foam forms on the surface.
Once the yeast was ready, the flour, salt, olive oil and 1 cup of water were added to the mixer. The dough hook was attached and the mixer started on low to get everything incorporated. As the mixer was running, another 1 1/2 cup of water was added. The mixture was pretty sticky at this point but let the mixer run another 5 minutes or so and it should stiffen a bit and become more easily handled. Keep the dough covered in the next few steps so it doesn’t dry out.
The dough was divided into 20 equal pieces. I had balls of dough at roughly 80g each. You don’t have to weigh them out if you’re not as obsessive as I am. You’re welcome to simply cut the dough to roughly the right size and take the risk of making uneven pitas, disappointing your parents and burning in the fires of bread hell. As you’re dividing the dough, keep it covered so it doesn’t dry out.
Take each piece of dough and roll it out to roughly 1/4 inch thickness and as round as you can and place the rolled pita on a piece of parchment. I highly recommend not using too much flour so you don’t end up with a thick flour coating on your final product but using enough that the dough is thoroughly covered so it doesn’t stick. Delicate balances in standards are part of being human, you should be used to it by now or it’s time to come to terms with the hypocrisy. For bread God’s sake, keep the dough covered so it doesn’t dry out.
I heated up as many skillets as I could get to the same temperature (three). I don’t have actual temperature readings but on my electric stove top, exact medium is the setting that works best. You want to get your pitas to get a nice deep brown coloring after 3ish minutes.
When my skillets were heated enough and/or I got tired of waiting, the pitas were removed from the parchment and placed in the pan with the parchment side down. This is not arbitrary, the parchment side is wetter. I found that if the wetter side faced up, I had more large localized bubbles forming instead of the beginning of a nice pocket.
The pita was left alone until a large bubble began to form. Giving it enough time is the key to creating a good pocket. If you’re failing to create pockets, give you pitas more time on this first side. Once a decent sized bubble was forming, I flipped it and let it keep cooking until the pita puffs fully into a little bread pillow.
When my pitas ran into issues and they wouldn’t rise I would often try to flip the pita again. This fixed the issue about 50% of the time. Once in a while, the pita just refused. These unpuffed pitas became great snacks while cooking or for those visitor that come sniffing about to see if maybe there are any discards. With practice you can eliminate disgraceful flat pitas but then what will you feed your nosy visitors?
Lastly, you can tell your pita is done cooking when there are no shiny bits of dough anywhere. They will get all matte all around. Shiny=raw dough, matte=cooked.
These pitas come out the way I remember them from my childhood in Israel. They are fluffy, pillowy, light, and pocketed. I also love that this recipe does not require any rising time for the dough and instead takes advantage of the amount of time it takes to handle each piece of dough and the natural process of creating this bread.