Freshly baked homemade pitas are extremely easy to make and does not require specialized bread knowledge or skills. They are infinitely better than store-bought pitas, so be prepared to never want to buy them again. Their excellence is as pure as they are ephemeral: to enjoy their fluffy freshness, they must be eaten within a couple of hours, ideally hot from the oven.
The key to obtaining their characteristic pocket is to get your oven as hot as it can so the pitas puff up in their own steam. I have only ever used my pizza stone for this purpose as it retains heat well, but if you don’t have one, I imagine a regular baking tray might also do the trick. I don’t know for sure though.
I inevitably have leftovers which I freeze for pita croutons in future salads (thawed, hand-torn, and then baked until crunchy) and/or wait until stiff and stale the next day to make delicious pita chips that last for days.
Recently, I dined at Fairouz in Ottawa and marveled at their pitas which were studded with cute little cumin seeds, AKA dopamine-releasing flavour bombs. So I started doing the same. This is the only optional component of the recipe.
1 cup lukewarm water
7 grams active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
220 grams whole wheat flour
120 grams all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
- In a small bowl, add the water, yeast, and honey. Give a little stir and let sit for about 5 minutes until activated and looking frothy.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, salt, and cumin seeds.
- Add the olive oil to the yeasty water, stir, then add this mixture into the flour mixture. Use a rubber spatula to mix together until the dough gathers.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, until a gentle depression made with your finger bounces back about halfway. Set the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, rest to rise in a warm area for 1 hour.
- Preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit with a pizza stone in it.
- The dough should have risen about twice its initial size. Punch it down to deflate and turn it onto your surface again. Divide into 8 equal portions, doing mini-kneads on each to form into little balls.
- On a lightly floured surface, flatten each ball with the palm of your hand and then use a rolling pin to roll into thin, flat circles (about 10 centimetres in diameter). The trick to making pretty circles is to use gentle back-and-forth motion while rotating the pin a few degrees before each outward roll.
- In batches as many as your pizza stone will fit, bake the discs for about 4 minutes without perturbing the oven (i.e., do not open) until dramatically puffed up.
- Enjoy immediately.