Friday, July 24, 2009


I've just made pita bread from scratch and it turned out so well! I follow Serious Eats on my Google reader and they linked to this recipe. The link only shows US measurements, so I'll copy it on to the bottom of this post with the metric conversions I used.

I can't find pita bread outside of a specialty shop here, with the exception of one type of pre-packed sandwich they sell at the convenience store, and the recipe looked so simple I decided to give it a go. My dough ended up a touch too salty for my taste, but I think that may have been my converting it wrong, so the next time I do this I'll half the salt (recipe below shows the halved amount).

Each batch of dough makes 8 pitta breads, coming in at 66 calories each (changeable subject to brands of ingredients you use I suppose), and aside from the kneading time requires very little effort. Most of the time you need is spent waiting for the dough to rise, so you can go off and do other things during that. You could also make this healthier by using wholewheat flour or a half/half mix, but I don't know how that would affect rising/baking times (if it would at all). The dough keeps wrapped in the fridge for up to a week, so you could take a portion off as needed and bake it (they only take about 3 minutes in the oven)

Pita Bread

1 cup/236ml warm water (not hot or boiling)
2 teaspoons/12g active dry or instant yeast*
3 cups/375g flour
2 teaspoons/5g salt**
1-2 teaspoons/5-10ml olive oil (optional)

1) Combine water and yeast, let it sit for 5 minutes. If using instant yeast I think you can skip this.

2) Add 2 1/2 cups (approx. 310g) flour (save the rest for the kneading time), salt, and half the olive oil (if using) to the yeast-water. Stir until it comes together as a rough dough.

3) Sprinkle some extra flour on the work surface, turn out the dough onto it. Knead (or in my case, bash at and hope for the best) the dough for about 10 minutes until it has been properly cowed into submission and has gone smooth and elastic. It will probably still be kind of sticky (it was for me) so grab the flour you saved and add a little at a time as needed. Try not to be too enthusiastic with this, it's easier to add more than it is to take some out later. If you get tired, stop and let the dough rest for a few minutes before finishing kneading. Smirk when you realise you can totally count this as your exercise for the day.

4) Clean the bowl you used to mix the dough and film it with a little olive oil. Set the dough in the bowl and turn it until it's coated with oil. I don't know if you could get away with using a spray for this and saving calories? Worth a try. It's only a very light film though so I don't think it will make that much of a difference.

6) Cover the bowl with a clean dishcloth or plastic wrap, and let the dough rise until it's doubled in bulk (about 1 - 2 hours).

7) Pre-heat the oven to 450°F/230°C. If you have a baking stone (Ha! Sure I do, yeah), put it in the oven to heat. If you don't have a baking stone, place a large baking sheet (that's more like it) on the middle rack to heat. Definitely do not get so distracted watching So You Think You Can Dance that you go to grab it out of the oven later without thinking about putting on oven gloves.

8) Gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. For me it deflated itself while I was trying to turn it out of the bowl because a bit got stuck to the sides.

At this point you have a choice, you can divide it into 8 pieces and bake them all, or grab as many pieces as you need at this particular time. If you don't want to use all the dough now, it will keep in the fridge for up to a week wrapped in cling film/plastic wrap. If you're keeping it, allow the parts of the dough you use later to come up to room temperature again before you bake them, then follow instructions as below.

9) Divide into pieces and gently flatten each piece with your hand. Sprinkle the pieces with a little more flour and then cover them with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap wrap until you're ready to bake them (I was only making two so I skipped this, they weren't going to be hanging around in the open air long enough to warrant it. If you're making batches you might want to go with it though).

10) Using a floured rolling pin, roll one of the pieces into a circle 8-9 inches wide and about a quarter inch thick. Make sure the dough isn't sticking to your counter and sprinkle both the dough and the counter with a little flour if it is. Roll out as many pitas as will fit in your oven at once.

11) Place the rolled-out pitas directly on the baking stone or baking sheets and bake for about 3 minutes. It seems to be most effective to lay the pita flat on the palm of your hand and then flip it over onto the baking stone. The pita will start to puff up and is done when it has fully ballooned.

If your first pitas don't balloon, don't worry! Pitas are a bit like crepes in that the first few don't always work (mine ballooned perfectly, if yours don't, I point and laugh!). Un-ballooned pitas are still delicious and can be folded in half to create a pouch for fillings.

*I used active dry yeast, which requires a few minutes combined with the water at the start to get it going. If you use instant I think you can add it with the rest of the dry ingredients and skip the wait. There were mixed answers on exactly how much yeast it converts as, but my supermarket sells it in 6g packs so I used two and it turned out fine.

**I used 10g as that is what it converted to, but as I said I think I would prefer less next time. It was still fine to eat though, so I guess it's down to your personal taste.

My little microwave/convection oven fits two of these little babies on a baking tray, so that works out perfectly for meals as I live by myself. People with actual people-sized ovens can obviously do more at once. Next up I might try some of these flat breads that I can try in a pan on the stove-top.


Princess Dieter aka Mir said...

Snarf. People sized ovens. That's funny.

I hate too cook, but the idea of fresh bread is tempting. I wish I'd asked Mohammed for his Iranian flatbrad recipe before his restaurant closed and he went back to Iran years ago. My fave pita-ish bread ever. So good with hummus. Aah.

Do the Japanese not eat much regular breads? When i read manga, I see a lot of breads with fillings eaten at lunch, but mostly bentos and buns. :)

The P

SeaShore said...

66 calories! You can't beat that. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Journo June aka MamaBear said...

Sounds good. I know it's challenging to find stuff when you live in another country.

Even the THOUGHT of eating eel makes me gag. Eels totally freak me out, alive or dead!!!! You can have that. :-)
Path to Health

Diana Swallow said...

sounds delish!

You haven't posted in a while, I'm just stopping by to check in on you and hoping all is well in your corner of the world.