I made these Pita breads to go with our Lebanese Easter feast. I could not believe how easy they were to put together and the difference in taste and texture from store-bought was amazing. Unlike the ones you buy in the store, these tasted like extremely delicious bread. They were moist and chewy with lots of flavor. I made them the day before and reheated on the gas BBQ grill as I cooked other items for the dinner. Once you make these, you will never want to buy them again!
This is the first time I have made Pita bread and it will not be the last. I found several recipes (OK…hundreds!) online and picked what I thought would be the best from a few different ones. I mainly gravitated to Greek, Lebanese, Middle Eastern chefs wanting to get the most authentic recipe.
I was surprised to learn that Pita bread has been around for over 4000 years and is known to be the oldest type of bread. It is believed that Pita originated in the Middle East, but was quickly adopted by many other regions and countries. The word ‘Pita’ simply means Flatbread. The Greeks were the first to use that term.
There are lots of different methods for cooking Pita bread, but I chose to simply griddle them on stovetop.
You can also cook them on top of the stove in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven or on a pizza stone in the oven. Some prefer to cook them using steam, which makes them a bit fluffier.
The dough is quite soft when it comes together. And the ingredients are very similar to any bread dough, but Pitas do not require kneading. Once your dough has rested, gently punch down and form into a circle using either your hands to stretch the dough or a rolling pin. I used the rolling pin. Cut into fairly even triangles and then form into small balls of approximately equal size.
Cover these balls and let them rest another 15 minutes. This is known as a second proofing allowing the dough to relax and become easier to shape. After resting, roll out balls of dough a few at a time to 1/8 inch thickness. It should be fairly thin as it will puff up while cooking. You don’t want to roll out too many at a time as they begin rising right away. Keep the dough balls that have not yet been rolled covered. To get a more authentic look, using your finger tips, gently press into the dough to make little depressions or dimples, similar to how you would making focaccia. The dough is soft and almost sticky.
Brush one side very lightly with olive oil. Place oil side down on the preheated griddle. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until the Pita is nicely browned. Flip and cook the other side for same time.
The Pitas store well on the counter in a sealed plastic bag. After our Easter feast, we stuffed them with left-over lentil salad; ham and cheese and re-grilled just enough to melt the cheese, and one morning for breakfast filled them with cheesy scrambled eggs and scallions. Versatile, delicious and easy to make.
Please let me know how you enjoy them!
Homemade Pita Bread
Biting into one of these Pitas will transport you to the streets of Tripoli. Very flavorful with a delicate texture.
- 1 1/2 cups Warm water About 120-130 degrees F, but you don't really need to take the temp. It just needs to feel comfortably warm.
- 2 Tbsp. White sugar
- 1 Pkg. Instant Yeast
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil Plus more for brushing.
- 4 cups White Flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. Salt
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the warm water, sugar and yeast. Let it sit for 5 minutes. The yeast should start to bubble.
Add the olive oil, flour and salt. Using a spoon, combine until roughly the shape of a ball.
Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let rise for 45 minutes in a warm spot on the kitchen counter away from drafts.
Gently punch down the dough and using a rolling pin, roll into an 8 to 9 inch circle. Divide into 16 pieces of equal size. Roll into balls and cover again and let rest for another 15 minutes. This allows the dough to relax and become easier to shape. You can also stretch the dough with your hands, but the rolling pin will give the Pitas a crunchier texture.
Heat griddle to 300 degrees. Roll out 4 balls at a time to about 1/8 inch thickness. They will puff up while cooking. Keep the unrolled balls covered so the exterior does not form a bit of a crust in the open air and the balls do not begin to rise.
After the Pita ball is rolled, brush one side lightly with olive oil. Place oil side down on the griddle and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the surface is nicely browned. Flip and cook the other side for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the griddle to a cooling rack and continue rolling out the balls 4 at a time.
It's really that simple! Plus, no kneading makes this recipe even easier. I can't wait to make these again switching up flour, adding seeds, Za'atar or other spices, lacing with garlic...endless variations!