Perfect Puffy Pitas
SoupAddict is not a fan of the supermarket pita. Let her just state that outright. No, not a fan. Not a fan. at. all. Dry, with a weird texture, and pockets so fragile that you need to buy two packs just to make sure you have enough unripped ones to properly hold all manner of pita stuffin’ goodness.
Here’s where my peeps, the bakers at King Arthur Flour, come in to save the day. (SoupAddict is officially claiming dibs on everyone at KAF. They don’t know this yet. And they’ll probably react with a “pfft” once they do. But the claim of dibs has been staked. Believe it.)
Home baked pitas are not out reach. Not by a long shot. SoupAddict’s peeps at KAF taught her this (as she was lazily browsing through the recipes section of their web site, and the Fates directed her to a pita recipe she didn’t even know she was looking for, but apparently was). And once you make them, you’ll never go back to store-bought.
SoupAddict loves KAF’s white whole wheat flour. It adds whole-grain-goodness with a light texture.
All the yummy bread ingredients, right into the mixer bowl. This is a one-bowl recipe, people.
A SoupAddict tip: Add most of the water, but not all, and do an initial mixing with the paddle attachment. If the mixture appears dry, add a little more until it’s nice and shaggy and slightly sticky.
A mere five minutes in to the kneading with the dough hook, and we’re looking good. Just another minute or two should do it.
Remove the dough and oil the mixer bowl (or spray with spray oil). Place dough back in the bowl, and turn it over and around to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour.
Smooth and tender – just beautiful!
Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Freezing tip: if you don’t need 8 pitas at the moment, wrap each extra piece individually in cling wrap, and place them all together in a freezer bag. On the day you want to use them, let thaw in the fridge, and then proceed with the remaining steps. SoupAddict does this often on work days. It’s a superfast way to have fresh, fresh bread at the dinner table, since the entire rolling and baking process only takes about 15 minutes).
Rule #1 of rolling out dough: always start from the center and roll to the edge, in one direction only. Rule #2 of rolling out dough: always start from the center and roll to the edge, in one direction only. Rule #3: your house, your rules. Except when rolling out dough.
To roll a perfect circle, follow a north-south-east-west path (i.e., first, roll from the center away from you – north. Then roll from the center towards you – south. You get the picture. Then repeat the four strokes, slightly askew: north-northeast, south-southwest, north-northwest, south-southeast.
Make sure the dough circle has an even thickness and a smooth, smooth top.
Now, be brave. Careful, but brave. Drape the first circle over the grates of your oven rack. Don’t worry if one edge droops. All will be corrected by the puffing process.
It’s really cool watching the pitas puff. The puffing kind of rolls across the surface of the pita, and then balloons up to nearly explosive heights. But no worries. In the many batches of pitas that SoupAddict has made, there have been no pita tragedies.
A pita on the flip side. If you don’t like the oven grate marks on your pita, you can use an aluminum cooling rack placed on the oven rack. The markings will be less visible, if visible at all. You can also bake the pitas on a stone.
Wrap the pitas in a soft towel until ready to serve. This will keep the pitas soft and warm.
Perfect, perfect pitas. The pockets are well-formed, and the bread is soft, pliable … and doesn’t rip along the seams. Miracle!
Perfect Puffy Pitas
Adapted, with few changes, from King Arthur Flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup water, lukewarm
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Combine all of the ingredients, mixing to form a shaggy dough.
2. Knead the dough, by hand (10 minutes) or by mixer (5 minutes) or by bread machine (set on the dough cycle) till it’s smooth.
3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and allow it to rest for 1 hour; it’ll become quite puffy, though it may not double in bulk. If you’ve used a bread machine, simply let the machine complete its cycle.
4. Preheat the oven to 475°. Position one rack in the lower third of the oven. (For safety, remove the upper rack completely, or move it to the highest position.)
5. Turn the dough onto a lightly oiled work surface or a non-stick rolling mat and divide it into 8 pieces.
6. Roll two of the pieces into 6″ circles; keep the remaining pieces covered to prevent drying out. Let the circles rest for a few minutes.
7. Very carefully, place each dough circle directly on lower oven rack. Bake the pitas for 5 minutes; they should puff up. (If they haven’t puffed up, wait a minute or so longer. If they still haven’t puffed, your oven isn’t hot enough; raise the heat for the next batch.)
8. Once the pitas have puffed, carefully flip the pitas to their other sides with a spatula and gloved hands, and bake for 2 additional minutes.
9. Remove the pitas from the oven, wrap them in a clean dishtowel (this keeps them soft), and repeat with the remaining dough.
10. Store cooled pitas in an airtight container or plastic bag.