Sunday, 5 April 2015

Pita Bread

The Alpha Bread Bakers are back with our monthly bake-along from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Bread Bible. This month it's pita bread. I've never tried to make pita bread before and I've always assumed it was one of those breads that are always better made by experts. Well, now I know it's possible to make them successfully at home and it was definitely fun to try them out. But I do think that, like most flatbreads, they're a lot of fiddling around (a bit like biscuits and little cakes) and perhaps something I wouldn't bother with if I could buy a good quality product. On the other hand if I were more practiced maybe I wouldn't find them so fiddly...

Pita breads certainly aren't going to break the bank. They only require flour, salt, yeast, a little olive oil and water. The recipe specifies plain flour but I thought I'd use my bread flour. I have a lot of it (it comes in 5kg bags) and it seemed right to use bread flour for bread. No, not great reasoning! But I don't think it did any harm. The protein levels in the bread flour are similar to the US plain flours specified in the recipe.

It would be good to try kneading these by hand one day but this time I used the stand mixer. I'm not that confident about my kneading technique and I think I have a bit of a heavy hand so the bread turns out a bit tough. It's a bit of a shame not to handle the dough though since this is part of the fun of bread making.

After ten minutes kneading, the dough is put into the fridge overnight. You're meant to check it after an hour to make sure it hasn't risen. My dough didn't get that memo and after less than an hour had risen alarmingly towards the top of the container. I pressed it down several times over the next few hours.

I should have left the dough overnight to develop flavour but I wanted to get the pita bread made, so it was only four or five hours later that I took it out to shape.

I divided my dough into eight balls and left them to rest before rolling them out.

I have a little rolling pin that's used for rolling Indian flatbreads and it's just the right size for this task. I'm never very good at estimating thickness so I rolled them until I had a reasonable size bread although some of them may have been a little transparent round the edges.

The individual breads are baked directly on a baking stone or baking sheet in a very hot oven. My convection microwave only goes to 220C so the breads took a little longer to cook. The sign of success is that the breads puff up like a football.

I cheered when I saw this bread had puffed up. Oh the anxiety!

Not all of my breads puffed, but they were all tasty. Rose mentions that the dough needs to be quite moist for successful puffing so I might try making the dough a bit wetter next time.

I also tried using a pan on the stove because I thought it might be easier than getting the dough rounds into the oven. It was, but I had trouble regulating the heat and those breads came out browner than the oven baked.

If I'd thought of it, I would have tried cooking them on my stand-alone pizza maker. That certainly reaches a high heat and it would be easier to flip the breads on and off (without the three burns I sustained from the oven). Well, next time.

Saturday morning breakfast. Coffee and toasted pita filled with ricotta and tomato. Delicious.

Next month we're baking something called Touch of Grace Biscuits. I presume they're a kind of scone but we'll all find out together in May.  See you then.


  1. beautiful! my pitas didn't puff at all, but they made wonderful pizza crusts ;).

    Patricia @ ButterYum

  2. Lovely! Just look at your puffy little breads! Love your rolling pin.

  3. Looks wonderful and soft! I wanted to try stove method too but in the end I didnt.

  4. Pitas for breakfast. Great idea. Even though you used bread flour, they look great. I have a bunch of bread flour too so next time I'm trying that.