We’re eating a lot of scoopable, wrappable dishes this week (daal, seitan kebabs, anyone?), so we needed a good flatbread to, well, scoop and wrap up the goodness. Enter pita and naan, AKA super tasty flatbreads.
If I had to pick a difference between the naan and pita recipes I’ve made, I’d say naan is a bit denser, and usually doesn’t form a pocket like a pita does. It tends to take a bit longer to rise, and often has other add-ins, like yogurt, garlic, egg, and the like, to buff it up and make it extra tasty. (Don’t worry – you’ll get a naan recipe sometime, too.)
I wanted to switch it up a bit this week for fluffy pita, especially for kebabs, but they’re pretty interchangeable as far as scooping and dipping breads go. Not that that matters much here for a pita recipe, but I figured I’d say it anyway. I ramble.
This dough comes together nicely, much like pizza dough, and can take a beating, so don’t be afraid to knead it for a while, or if you mix it a little too long – it’s quite forgiving.
Originally, pitas are also baked in what are essentially absurdly hot clay jars, but most of us, alas, do not have these in our home kitchens. (Life goal, perhaps?) So, I cook mine on a hot pizza stone in my oven. If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can also use a cast iron skillet or even the back of a cookie sheet – I won’t tell. (But if you can, get yourself a pizza stone or two – they’re fantastic for all kinds of breads!)
You can also add in herbs, or top the pita with olive oil and herbs – the ones pictured are drizzled with oil and sprinkled with za’atar seasoning. Mmmm.
What are you waiting for? Let’s make pita!
Feel free to add dried or fresh herbs to the dry ingredients, or top your pita with olive oil, garlic, and herbs. Eat hot or room temperature.
you will need:
- 2 ½ tsp active dry yeast
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 ½ c warm water (110 degrees F)
- 3 ½-4 c unbleached all-purpose flour (you can sub in up to 1 c whole wheat flour)
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling if desired
- Optional add-ins: dried or fresh herbs, minced garlic, minced green onion, etc.
- In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, sugar, and yeast. Let stand 5 minutes until foamy.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Add 2/3 of the flour mixture (about 2 ½-3 cups) to the yeast mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until combined.
- Stand mixer directions: Using the bread hook attachment, knead the dough on medium speed, gradually adding the remaining flour until the bread forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. This should take about 8-10 minutes. The dough should look smooth, and be slightly sticky to the touch, but not sticking to your fingers. If it’s too dry, add a tablespoon of water. If it sticks to your hands or the side of the bowl, add a tablespoon of flour until it releases.
- Kneading directions: Turn dough out onto a clean, floured surface, and knead in the rest of the flour by hand until the dough is slightly sticky, but not sticking to your hands or the kneading surface, about 10 minutes.
- Coat a large bowl with oil. Form the dough into a ball, then put the dough in the oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with a tea towel, and allow to rise in a warm (not hot) location until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Punch down dough. Flour a cutting board or other surface where you’ll put the pita dough balls, and put some water into a small bowl. Wet your hands, pull off a baseball-sized hunk of dough (you’ll want to make 8 dough balls total, so size accordingly), and form it into a ball by stretching it with your hands (or squeezing it between your thumb and fingers of one hand). Place dough ball onto floured board, and repeat with remaining dough. Cover with a tea towel, and allow to rise until the balls are almost doubled, about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat oven to 475 degrees F (if your oven doesn’t go that high, 450 works, too), and place your pizza stone, skillet, or baking sheet on the middle rack. You want to make sure your cooking surface is good and hot for baking the pitas. Allow the stone or sheet to heat for 10 minutes after the oven comes to temperature.
- Flatten the dough balls to ¼ inch thickness with a rolling pin, and bake, one or two at a time, on the hot stone, for 3 minutes on the first side. I flatten only two at a time and, while those bake, flatten two more while I wait for them to finish. Flip the pita using tongs or a metal spatula (the spatula is less likely to puncture the pita), and bake for an additional minute. Remove pitas to a towel and wrap to keep warm, or to a cooling rack to cool completely. These will keep for a day or so in a sealed bag, but I recommend eating them as soon as possible, as they toughen up quickly.