Once you start making certain things on your own, you never want go back to the store-bought brands. Pita bread is one of those things. Why?? One bite will tell you. These pitas are soft rounds full of whole wheat flavor that are sweetened with a bit of honey. Don't be intimidated by making your own. They really are quite simple to make. What I love about this recipe is the amount-- 12 pitas! That means some warm for dinner, a couple for pita pocket sandwiches for lunch, a few baked into pita chips, and whatever is left over goes into the freezer to help me out on a busy weeknight or for a last minute lunch idea.
Below are a few step-by-step photos to help you with the process.
After kneading the dough, allow it to rise for one hour or until doubled in size.
After the initial rise, gently deflate the dough.
I like to use my kitchen scale covered in plastic wrap to weigh each dough ball, about 3 3/4 ounce each.
I use a minimal amount (if any) of flour when rolling out the rounds. Too much flour will cause the dough to shrink back, making it difficult to hold the 7-inch round size circle. Also, when rolling out a round of dough, keep the other balls covered with a sheet of plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.
Lightly sprinkle the baking sheets with cornmeal to prevent the rounds from sticking. Allow them to rise for another hour (covered with a slightly damp kitchen towel) or until puffy, but not necessarily doubled in size. Then bake until lightly golden and puffy.
Mmm-- homemade whole wheat pita!
Whole Wheat Pita
makes 12, 7-inch pitas
2 Tablespoons honey
2-2 1/2 cups lukewarm warm water, divided
4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast, (two 1/4-ounce packages)
3 cups (13 1/2-ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups (13 1/2-ounces) whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 2 Tablespoons for coating
cornmeal for dusting
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, stir together the honey and 1 cup of the warm water. Stir in the yeast and set aside until the yeast has bloomed, about 5-10 minutes. Add to the same bowl both flours, salt, 1/4 cup oil, and 1 cup of the warm water. Mix on low speed until the mixture is smooth and elastic, adding up to 1/2 cup more water a tablespoon at a time as needed. Increase the speed to medium and knead for 4-5 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil in the same mixing bowl. Return the dough to the oiled bowl, drizzle the top of the dough with the remaining oil, turning to coat the dough with oil. Cover the bowl with a cloth or piece of plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Gently deflate the dough and let rest for 20 minutes. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide the dough (I like to use my kitchen scale) into 12 even pieces, about 3 3/4-ounce each. Shape each piece into a ball on an unfloured area of the counter, cup your hand over it, and quickly rotate your hand over the dough, forming a tight, evenly round ball. On the lightly floured surface of your counter, roll each piece of dough into a 1/8-inch thick circle, about 7-inches in diameter; keeping the remaining dough balls covered with a sheet of plastic wrap. Set each round on a large baking sheet without overlapping. Lightly dust the rounds with cornmeal to prevent them from sticking. Cover the dough with a lightly damp towel and let them rise for 1 hour until puffy, but not necessarily doubled in size.
Meanwhile, position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 500º F. Bake the dough rounds one baking sheet at a time until the pitas are puffed and lightly golden, about 5 minutes. As each batch comes out of the oven, stack the pitas 3 or 4 high and wrap in clean kitchen towels. Serve immediately or let cool to room temperature. Well wrapped pitas can be kept for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Fine Cooking, May 2008