Pitas. They're so tasty and versatile! Dip them into hummus, fill them with chicken salad, bake them into healthy pita chips...and the list goes on.
But make them from scratch? I'd always imagined these would be extremely difficult to bake. How in the world would I get that pocket of air in the center? How is it possible to get such perfect rounds? Don't you need a special oven or tools? Nevertheless intrigued, I decided to give them a try. Success!This easy pita recipe uses whole wheat flour, for added vitamins and nutritional value.
Healthy Homemade Pitas! (Makes 8)
3 cups of flour (I mix 1 cup whole wheat with 2 cups white for whole wheat pitas)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar (or honey)
1 packet yeast (I use 2 tsp from a big bag)
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water at room temperature
2 tbsp olive oil
Mix the yeast with 1 cup room temperature water to activate it, stirring gently.
Once the yeast is dissolved and bubbles form on the surface, add the flour, salt, olive oil, and remaining water and stir together with a wooden spoon. The mixture should form a ball. If there are bits of flour that aren't sticking to the ball, add a little more water.
Once all the ingredients are mixed into a ball, place it on a working surface. I have a giant cutting board that I sprinkle with flour, which is much easier to clean afterwards than if I were to use just the countertop. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes.
For the lucky ones with a stand mixer, you can put the ingredients into the mixer and stir on low with the bread hook for about 10 minutes.
When kneading is finished, place the ball of dough into a bowl coated with oil, cover with a damp towel, and set it aside in a warm location until it has doubled in size. (About 1 1/2 hours).
When the ball has doubled, punch it down to deflate it. Then cut it into 8 equal parts (cut it into quarters, then cut each quarter in half). Roll each of the 8 small pieces into a ball, trying to keep the top smooth and free of any seams.
Set the 8 dough balls onto the work area, and cover them with the damp towel for another 20 minutes. This helps them to relax, without drying out.
Now you can use this time to turn on the oven...to 400 degrees. And also to prepare the baking surface. You can use a traditional pan, but I think a baking stone or terra cotta tile works best for these. Put it into the oven while it preheats. I also add a small oven-proof container of water to the oven to give it a little humidity.
|These beauties are just a few minutes away once you've rolled out the dough!|
OK...20 minutes later, uncover the little balls and sprinkle them with a little bit of flour. Then roll each one into a 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick circle. If the dough isn't stretchy enough to reach this thickness, cover them up again for another few minutes and try again.
When they're rolled out, open up the oven and pop them directly onto the cooking surface.
This part is really cool...They puff up! This is the most exciting 3 minutes you'll ever spend in front of an oven! I'm serious here.
Bake them for about 3 minutes, until they're big and puffy. Pull them out of the oven, and they'll deflate into beautiful pitas with perfect pockets inside!