This is a pita bread recipe straight from the Arabic Mediterranean tradition that anyone can make at home. Bread is a pillar of the Mediterranean diet and most everyone seems to have a weakness for those aromatic fresh flat loaves just out of the oven…
As the wise Indians say, fresh bread has the maximum amount of prana or life energy. Once we met an Ayurvedic Indian doctor living in The Netherlands who was horrified that Northern Europeans kept their bread in the refrigerator for one week or more.
“No prana”, he used to say, no life-giving energy. With this delicious and easy homemade pita bread recipe this won’t happen to you, fresh baked bread has lots of life force, or at least Indians believe so, do you?.
In the Mediterranean, bread older than twelve hours is frown upon and it’s then used —recycled we would say today— in garlic soups, Catalan bread with tomato, Majorcan soups, authentic Lebanese fattoush salads made with leftover pitta bread and so on.
Serves 10 loaves
- 550 g or 1 1/4 pound all purpose flour
- Additional flour for sprinkling
- 1 1/4 cups or 275 ml lukewarm water
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
How to make pita bread
- In a cup or small bowl combine the yeast with 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Stir until the yeast is dissolved. Set aside for about 7 minutes to proof.
- Add 2 1/2 cups flour to a bread or large mixing bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon.
- Make a small well in the center of the flour and pour the yeast mixture and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix it with the flour until you get a compact dough.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured wooden surface and slowly add water as needed. Continue kneading the dough for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the dough is smooth, elastic and it doesn’t stick to your hands. At the end, shape it into a ball.
- Wipe a large bowl with half a tablespoon of olive oil. Place the dough in it and rub it gently against the bowl walls so as to cover it uniformly with olive oil. Cover with a tea towel. Put it in a warm draft free area and allow it to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
- Punch the dough down and let it rise again for 10 minutes.
- Cut the dough into 10 pieces. Shape each piece into a small ball.
- Sprinkle a little flour on a wooden surface. With a wooden rolling pin, roll each ball into a flat round loaf 7 inches or 18 cm in diameter and about 1/8 inch or 4.5 mm thick. Cover the flattened dough rounds with a cloth and let them rise a little bit for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 450 ºF or 230ºC. Slightly flour a baking sheet and place it in the oven for 5 minutes. Now place the first batch of dough rounds on a baking sheet. Bake on the lower rack for 3 minutes or until the dough forms a puffed up ball. Turn it over and leave in the oven for about 2 more minutes.
- Remove from the oven and stack the pitta bread loaves on top of each other. Wrap the pitta loaves in a clean tea towel until ready to serve to keep them warm and soft.
Is pita bread healthy?
Many people ask this question and the answer is yes, it is healthy, bread has been one of the main pillars of Mediterranean cuisines, now known as Mediterranean diet, since the beginning of their existence.
Pita bread is healthy as long as the flour and the yeast is of good quality. We tend to use organic flour, which makes them even more delicious, but any good quality flour will do.
Have you ever tried to make pitta bread? Do you have your own secret recipe you would like to share with us? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.