Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pita Bread – What’s in Your Pocket?

There are many baked products that you could make at home, but because of time, effort, and quality issues, probably shouldn’t. Fortunately, pita bread is not on that list. The dough is easy to make, and much like the flour tortillas we did, the taste and texture of the freshly made product is far superior to anything that comes with a twist tie.

The method is very straightforward, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about production. As you’ll see in the clip, after you roll the pita dough out, you’ll need to let it rest for 5 minutes before grilling. Since each one takes about 5-6 minutes in the pan, while one is cooking, you’ll want to roll the next, so it’s rested and ready to puff.

Speaking of “puff,” don’t be too upset if yours don’t go full balloon. Sometimes they all puff, sometimes some, and sometimes none. This is the way of the pita. But the good news is, even if they don’t fully puff, you should still get some sort of internal pocket with which to stuff. Even if you don’t, it’s okay…you’ll just call them “flatbread” instead! I hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 pita breads:
For the sponge mix:
1 pkg dry active yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 cup warm water (about 90-100 degrees F.)
1 cup (4.5 oz by weight) all-purpose flour
Then:
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 to 2 cups all-purpose flour, or until a soft, slightly sticky dough forms (about 8-9 oz by weight)
*Let rise about 2 hours, or until doubled in size. Form 8 small, round loaves, let rise 30 minutes. Roll out and let rest 5 minutes before grilling.

View the complete recipe

74 comments:

David said...

This looks really great! So, the big question is, can I do this with whole wheat flour?

JessGGodfrey said...

Wow! Looks amazing! How long do these keep? Are they fine at room temperature?

nircMD said...

will this work in a regular stainless steel pan, as i dont own any cast iron cookware?

alternatively, what about baking in an oven?

nircMD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Luke D said...

Any tips on adapting this for whole wheat/whole grain?

Chef John said...

Never tried in oven, but I've seen others do it. It would have to be very hot.

They keep a couple days, like any bread.

Yes, you can use wheat flour, but they don't taste as good! :)

Chef John said...

Could stick in S.S., so I'd go with a non-stick skillet if you have that instead.

Anil said...


Hello Chef,

Just like David asked,

"So, the big question is, can I do this with whole wheat flour?"

Thanks

Daniel Bottoms said...

I pita da foo' who dont try dis!

ok joking aside, just wanted to ask, if you could guestimate how long from start to finish did you need... timewise. Looking for a fun project this weekend for my 7 year old (who loves to help me in the kitchen). doing a bit of math, looked to be a good 2 hours including resting/raising times.

Great video. Thanks!

gromgull said...

I'll try this tomorrow!

Now, how about a croissant video? :)

redforever said...

Someone asked if they could bake pitas and the answer is yes, which is how I make mine all the time.

Someone also asked if they can be made with wholewheat flour and the answer is yes to that as well. I use half wholewheat and half AP flour or else half pastry wholewheat and half AP flour. The method remains the same.

Here is a very basic recipe if you want to bake pita breads.

1 Tbsp instant yeast
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp oil
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour

1 Put the yeast, water, salt, oil, and 1 1/2 cups flour in the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with the bread hook and beat to make a batter. Add more flour until a rough, shaggy mass is formed. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add more flour only if the dough is too sticky.
2 Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 6 pieces for large pitas or 12 pieces for small pitas. Form the dough into balls and then roll into 1/4-inch thick discs. Lightly flour the top of the pitas and then loosely
cover with saran. Let rest on the floured surface for 30-40 minutes or until slightly puffed.
4 Preheat the oven to 425F with a baking stone on the rack. If you don’t have a baking stone, use an inverted cookie sheet.
5 Flip the pitas as you transfer them to the baking stone. Bake the pitas for 10 to 15 minutes or until a light golden brown color.

TheAnimePiper said...

Hey chef! I was wondering, did you use AP or bread flour for this recipe =)? It didn't mention in the video and it doesn't on here either. So I just used bread flour for the sponge and AP for the rest.

I just made some earlier to try with the chicken adobo I'm making tonight (your recipe as well) and they taste great!
I got them all to balloon as well. When I put them in the griddle, as soon as you could see bubble/little pockets forming, I flipped them. Then I waited until I saw a larger pocket form and I flipped it again and did so until it was evenly puffed up :D

Thanks for the recipes!

Francine said...

Do these freeze well?

Chef John said...

Never tried to freeze, but should be ok.

Chef John said...

AnimePiper, it's AP. Just added to list.

Jessica A said...

Hey Chef John,

Yum, I buy a lot of flat breads, but I've never made any type of yeast breads at home before (call me a baking newbie). I don't have a standing mixer and I'd really like to try this recipe. Are there any tips or tricks you could give to make it without a standing mixer?

Thanks,
Jessica

bobrogue said...

The Pita Paul and Mary comment was funny because in Tokyo, the best place to buy Pita is a shop called Pita the Great!

laleen said...

Can I use hand mixer or by wooden spoon ?

Chef John said...

Yes, of course you can do by hand! Bread pre-dates the electric mixer by several years. ;) Just knead by hand until the dough looks the same as mind!

David Haddad said...

I pita the fool!

As an Arab American, I can attest that Chef John's recipe is legit. My family owns two specialty food markets in the Bay Area and we get pita bread from some of the best companies in the States. Called Crossroads Specialty Foods (@Chef John, you should visit us in Palo Alto or Hayward, you'll have a field day).

Going to home and make this tonight!

great said...

Chef John, do you speak Spanish?

Tess said...

Well I tried the recipe out today, only one puffed up, and It wasnt a very good puff. I'll try again next week, for now I'll just use the bread to make pizza. http://imgur.com/a/YI7Qu

I took photos of the process.

Traci said...

I have been so hesitant to try pita because of the horror stories I've heard about cooking it in the oven. After watching your video I decided to try it. I am so glad I did! Super simple! Tastes so yummy! We ate it with hummus(yum). I only had 2 that didn't puff up but I think that was my fault(didn't roll them out thin enough and didn't let them rest before cooking them). The rest of them puffed up like balloons. Thank you so much for sharing

Hudoo said...

chef John,
you're just amazing !
I've made it my tradition to cook/bake any random recipe from your blog every week for my family!
last week was the pull-apart bread and today is this lovely pita which am sure it's gonna turn out amazing as usual .. (( & ofc made the tzatziki on the side :) ))
thank you for all your tasty recipes ..
wish you all the best ..

Chris K. said...

Nice one,chef. Sage advice!

I always make time to roll the next one while I'm puffing.

roddie said...

Looking forward to making this! Thanks, Chef John!

(BTW - Your "Pin It" button doesn't seem to be working anymore. Some kind of problem with the image.

Sofia Abubakr said...

Hi Chef John! i love all your recipes! keep them coming.. Could you do a good soft yet crunchy ciabatta bread recipe? It would be great for homemade sandwiches :)

Sofia Abubakr said...

Hi Chef John! I love all your recipes I've tried. Could you do a soft yet crusty ciabatta bread recipe for sandwiches. The recipes I found in Italian seem so hard to do.

momorin said...

Hi Chef!
I haven't cook any from your recipes but they look very yummy and I
love to cook this pita bread.

Akiko from Japan.

Edgard said...

I've done this today, and it worked perfectly. Even rolling thinner than in the video, every one puffed, except the first two.

Seeing these two I think you have to let each side just cook slightly and then flip again, in the beginning. If one side is left for too much time, most of the dough will cook on it, and there will be too little left to form the other side, so it puffed slightly or not at all.

Cooking evenly as I said every one puffed, so much that I could even hear the steam coming out ; ).

Thanks for the idea and the recipe!

F. K. said...

Hi Chef John,
(Long time fan by the way. LOVE your videos!)

I tried these last weekend and they came out perfect. (They were all gone in less than 5 minutes).

Followed the recipe exactly. One question though - I measured the flour by cup, not weight, and as I was slowly adding the second batch of flour, I noticed that the dough was getting too tough to add the full 1.75 cups. I couldn't get more than one cup into it before it started to pull away from the sides and get firm. I was doing it by hand, not with a mixer.

I tried it again this evening (dough rising as we speak...er...type) and same thing happened. Got about 1.25 cups in and the dough started to feel too dry.

Has anyone else had this experience? Is it because I'm using a cup measurement rather than a weight one?

Chef John said...

Could be the cups depending on how packed the flour is!

fany said...

Hi Chef John!!
I tried your recipe, but any of my pitas puffed!! :(
I did use half whole wheat and half plain flour, also added a little crushed garlic, the taste was great. But when I was kneading it, it continued to brake, I couldn´t get it smooth, any advise? Thank you for all your recipes!!

Chef John said...

Probably the wheat flour. That makes a difference and much harder to work with. Next time use all white!

Elton Carvalho said...

Hi, Chef!

Thanks for the recipe1 It's great!

I gave a boring question to make: How much dry yeast (by weight) goes on the dough?

I ask this because I have a good amount of non-dried yeast and I know that the weight conversion is 3 to one, but the volume conversion is not so straightforward, so, how much (in weight) goes in this recipe? I'm guessing 10g or about 0.35 oz of dry yeast?

Chef John said...

i just googled for you and it says those packages are 1/4 oz so about 7 gr

Stare at the Sun said...

Mine did not puff at all!
Am I supposed to flip after 3mins or flip back and forth for around 3 min per side?

Chef John said...

I usually flip after the first side starts to brown a little. Maybe a minute or two. Not really a time thing. More of a look thing. They do go about 3-4 minutes total, but depends on pan, heat, and how thick u roll.

Ruth person said...

The risk with baking these awesome pitas in the oven is them burning. You would need to set the oven temperature very high and WATCH THEM LIKE A HAWK!
I've made pita in the oven and found them to be profoundly okay. When I use my NS skillet, lightly oiled of course, they turn out much better.

Mis Tea said...

Hi Chef John!
is it ok to leave the dough overnight?
Thanks

Mis Tea said...

Hi Chef John!

I just made this for the first time and it was super great!! I also got one puffy bread (out of 8) Im so proud of myself right now :)

Thanks for the vdo!

Wannabe perfect Mom said...

Thank you Chef John for this easy yet delicious recipie! Was planning to save 1 for breakfast but they were all gone. Can I put in a Foodwishes request for French Baguette? Thank you!!

Chef John said...

Probably would over-rise overnight I think. Never tried.

Unknown said...

I've seen other pita bread recipes that have an overnight rise - you just put the dough in the refrigerator. That slows down the rise.

Shieda Gilles said...

None of mine puffed, any idea why that would happen? They were still delicious and I wasn't planning on stuffing them but, couldn't figure out the problem. Thanks for the great tutorial!

Can you please add common mistakes/troubleshooters to you vids I think that would be a helpful addition

Chef John said...

I would, but I honestly don't know why they sometimes don't. That's happened to me.

Greg Cooper said...

I apologize for the plebeian nature of this question...but will the dough keep for any length of time? I have visions of starting each morning with a fresh fried egg stuffed into a freshly fried pita bread with some homemade mayo, lettuce and select few herbs...but I don't want to wake up at 4:00 to make the dough!

Chef John said...

I'm sure it would last a day, give it a test.

Lourie Ann Rivera said...

Made these yesterday and it has been the only recipe I have made that it has come out exactly how explained. Today I made them with some medium boiled eggs, plum tomatoes and cheese, Yummmm. Best Pita bread Ever. Thank You so much. Looking forward to try out more of your recipes.

rbeddawi said...

Yummmii what's better than fresh pita! I tried this recipe today and they turned out awesome!had some nice puffs! I made them with chicken Shawerma but we ended up eating the bread immediately before stuffing it with Shawerma! can't thank you enough Chef john for your great recipes and the explanation.

Ami G. Mee said...

I there an alternative to oil? We ran out.. Would butter work?

Palmer Dabbelt said...

I made a big batch of these to turn into pita chips for the superbowl tomorrow and I believe I've figured out a way to make them puff reliably:

* Cook the pita on one side for about 20 seconds. The idea is to cook it just long enough to make a skin form on the bottom, but not long enough that bubbles start to form on the top.

* Flip the pita over and cook it all the way through on the back side.

* Flip the pita back over to the original side and it will balloon up.

As far as I can tell the skin that forms from that first quick cooking traps the air in. Cooking it for a short time prevents small bubbles from forming, which I found then tend to burn and pop when they're on the bottom, preventing a full puff.

For full disclosure: I used a no-knead pizza dough (which was way too sticky, so I kneaded in another cup or two of flour until the dough was manageable). My pitas were fairly small, 16 pitas from 4 cups of flour (plus the extra I added).

Marilia Karpodini said...

Hello I would like to ask if I can do this with a hand held mixer because i dont own a standing one...

Chef John said...

Yes all doughs can be made by hand.

Fabio Tedesco said...

Hello Chef John,
I'm Fabio from Italy.
Please,I have a question about your pita bread recipe:
-I developed intolerance to dry active yeast...I'd like to try the recipe using sourdough starter,the same you use to make San Francisco bread.Do you think it is possible?
-could you help me with new proportions of sourdough,water and flour?
-if i use sourdough starter,do I need to follow the first step of the recipe(where you dissolve yeast,water and flour and you!
Thanks a lot,forgive my bad english please!
Congrats for your website!
Best,
Fabio

Chef John said...

Sorry, I'm really not sure. I know you can, but can't give you specific instructions! Maybe if you google sourdough pita, someone will have done so.

Fabio Tedesco said...

Thanks a lot for your answer!
I'll make a search with google.
One last question:do you have any ideas to substitute active dry yeast?baking power?baking soda?
Thanks again

Chef John said...

You can use BP and BS but it depends on the recipe, and it doesn't work for breads very well!

Ami said...

Arrrrgh! Mine didn't puff up at all! I wonder what I did wrong. :/ Oh well, instead of awesome pitas, I wound up with awesome flatbreads instead! Went great with your tzatziki sauce recipe and some stewed lamb!

Ami said...

Oh, and by the way these really ARE far superior to any store-bought stuff. We ran out of pitas before the tzatziki and when we used store bought pitas it was like eating cardboard. I've got more dough rising in the oven right now. <3

caca angelababy said...

Hi chef....can I put the dough into the freezer for another day use.,,??? Thanks for the pita bread recipe������

Wren said...

Medium-high heat is pretty far above the smoke point of the olive oil I've got. Is the idea to have the oil polymerize and add a layer of seasoning to the pan? I chickened out and did them around medium-low, but none puffed.

Delicious though.

Chef John said...

You need higher heat! I don't worry about smoke points. :)

Ami said...

I GOT PUFF!

I tried it again, and I turned up the heat as you said. However, the trick I found is that if I flipped them constantly, I'd get puff. When I just cooked one side and then the other like you did in the video, I was puff-less.

So I guess you really are the (ugh) Puff Daddy. After all, you're makin' dough and packin' rolls!

Chef John said...

:-)

Vicky said...

Chef John, Thanks so much for your great videos. My 1st attempt at pitas resulted in tasty flat bread. I watched your video prior to my 2nd attempt and got the 'puff' I was looking for, AND the pliable pita needed to make a rolled pita wrap (similar to The Pita Pit). Today's lunch will be an gyro and egg pita wrap using mayonnaise also made by your recipe.

I used freshly ground wheat (abt 3 cups), 1/2 cup unbleached flour, and increased water to 1-1/2 cups, 2 tsp instant yeast, 2 tsp sugar, maybe 2 tsp salt, and olive oil as needed. Mixing and kneading by hand in the bowl.

So, yes, whole wheat works fine, and stand mixer not needed. I gave my Kichenaid away months ago.

Moggy Kubota said...

Just found your awesome blog a couple of days ago. Decided to jump in with this pita bread recipe first. I had tried to make pitas once before in the oven, they ended up more like puffy crackers than bread.

But, with this recipe/technique, I had awesome results and even achieved full blown puffiness in the last 3 of the batch. Hubby loved them and was already discussing all the great things he could stuff inside them and he hadn't even finished eating his first one. His comment was 'you're going to be making a lot of these' - coming from him that was one of the greatest compliments.

Thanks for your fun and easy to understand videos, I could spend the whole day just watching them and trying to decide what to try next.

Rick said...

All I can say is that I feel so used by crappy pita mass producers. One bite of these easy to make pitas will convince you of the same. You will never eat those cardboard patties again.

I don't have a stand mixer so I had to knead by hand. It kind of felt good. They all blistered and puffed up perfectly and colored up nicely.

Good thing I made a batch of hummus to go with them. I assume that like most combinations of grains and legumes they form a complete protein. A chickpea is a legume - right?

This recipe is so worth the time it takes to prepare.

thisizk8 said...

I cooked these in my cast iron pans on a very hot charcoal grill. The smokiness added was very nice & it was convenient since I was grilling lamb to stuff them with.

〴⋋_⋌ 〵RoGa ♐ ≧◡≦ (─‿‿─) said...

Great, I love the recipe so much and the breads turned out to be awesome. Thank you!

I used sprouted whole wheat flour for everything and my breads turned out still pretty amazing. However, here are some useful observation:
_ they didn't puff as much (5 of them puffed a bit, and the others 3 didn't at all)
_ I ended up using 2 cups of flour in total
_ all of my 8 pita breads were kinda thin and it was harder to cut them open. I recommend dividing the dough into 6 (or even 5) small portion if you want large size bread
_ I kept them in the freezer for a month and they still tasted great. Heat them in the oven at 350 for roughly 5 minutes should be good.

Thats it :) thanks again for your wonderful recipe chef!

tamari said...

thank you!! i just made them and was sooooo good next to my humus! i miss pita so much since i grew up in israel and it was the only bread i liked and for the last 3 years ever since i moved back to europe i cant find it at all (only the packed ones but they are so bad!)

Sophie said...

Hi chef, i have never made any sorts of breads before but after watching this i'm planning to make pitas for my family gathering. My question is how can i use instant yeast in the recipe? Thx so much for the recipe :)

Becky C said...

To those who tried wheat flour and failed, I used half white, half wheat, and gave mine an extra 30 minute rise for the gluten to break down after the original 2 hour rise. They were smooth and exactly as the video explained.
Becky C

Carolyn4JESUS said...

Chef John, thank you for a great recipe. I love homemade hummus served with Pita bread. Our urban area doesn't always have it available so I thought I'd find a recipe for it. I'm going to use your's with the video. Thanks for an entertaining one at that!