Here’s a classic whole wheat pita bread recipe that you will just love. They’re strong, flavorful, and dependable. Recipe adapted from Breadtime: A Down-to-Earth Cookbook for Bakers and Bread Lovers by Susan Jane Cheney, by permission of the author.
- 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm filtered water
- 2 1/2 cups whole wheat bread flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or other vegetable oil
- Cornmeal, for dusting
- In a medium-size bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water and add a teaspoon of whole wheat flour. Cover and set in a warm spot for 5 to 10 minutes to proof.
- Stir in 1 cup of the wheat flour to form a batter. Cover and set it aside for 30 minutes, or until a sponge develops.
- Stir the salt and oil into the sponge. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and balls up in the center.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cover it for a few minutes. Thoroughly knead the dough, adding flour only as necessary to keep it from sticking.
- When the dough is smooth and elastic, form it into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel (see note) and set it in a draft-free spot for 1 to 2 hours, or until the dough has risen and does not rebound when pressed with a finger.
- Turn the dough out onto the lightly floured surface again and knead it briefly. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover, and set it aside to rise for another 1 to 2 hours, until it does not spring back when pressed.
- Divide the dough into 6 equal balls. Arrange on the floured surface; cover with the tea towel for 30 minutes.
- On the lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll each ball into an 8-inch circle slightly less than 1/4 inch thick. Arrange these on baking sheets lightly dusted with cornmeal and cover them for 30 minutes.
- Move a rack to the lowest position (leaving lots of space above it) in the oven and preheat to 500º F.
- Before baking, make sure that the dough circles are not sticking to the baking sheet. If they are, gently lift them away and sprinkle more cornmeal under them.
- Bake the pita breads for 5 minutes. They should puff up like balloons and be lightly browned. Do do not open the oven door before the 5 minutes is up, and make sure the oven has reheated to 500º F. before putting in another batch, in case you couldn’t fit all onto your baking sheet at once.
- If a bread doesn’t puff, it will still taste good but won’t have a pocket to fill
- Wrap breads with a dry tea towel as soon as you remove them fro the oven. Serve them warm. Thoroughly cool breads before storing them.
- What is meant by “tea towel” — a towel that’s mainly flat cloth, not with the kind of standing fibers that most kitchen and hand towels have. You don’t want those fibers getting on your breads!
- To reheat pitas, wrap them in foil or place them in a covered baking dish and warm them at 350º F. for just a few minutes, so they they heat through but don’t become dry and crisp.
- Pita freezes well; place waxed paper between breads so they will not stick together (that way you can take them out one at a time if you’d like) and wrap them well.
Here are more Global Flatbreads.