May 5, 2024

Homemade Pita Bread (Soft and Chewy)

Trust me when I say this, coming from someone of Middle Eastern descent, this is the best chewy and flavorful pita bread you will eat.

If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that this girl cannot bake, and one step removed from baking is bread making. However, there are some breads that I can’t do store-bought, and pita bread is one of them. If you’ve never experienced homemade pita bread, get ready, because the way you look at it will forever change. This pita bread offers everything you could ever want: a great, fantastic, slightly tangy, and yeasty flavor combined with a chewy and pillowy texture.

Is it a labor of love? Yes, but is it also very straightforward and easy? Also, yes. If you’ve never eaten homemade pita bread, you’re missing out. Homemade pita has a softness and chewiness that you just can’t get from store-bought. While this post may be intimidating to some, I promise you, once you master it, it couldn’t be easier, and you won’t have it any other way.

a plate of chewy homemade pita bread

WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR HOMEMADE PITA BREAD

  • Bread Flour – We are making bread so you are going to need bread flour. If you have never used bread flour, or maybe don’t know much about it, bread flour contains a higher amount of protein that traditional all-purpose. The higher the protein the stronger the gluten which is critical when making bread. Bread flour is going to give this homemade pita bread a great chewy texture, and rise.

    Can you use all-purpose? I am going to say no. Will using all-purpose flour result in pita bread? Yes, but you lose so much of the amazing chewy texture. From what we know about bread flour vs all-purpose, a higher protein content equals higher gluten, which equals a wonderful chew, texture, and overall strength of the pita. Through tests, I found that all-purpose flour pitas more often than their bread flour counterparts didn’t puff up every time, and when they did, they popped a hole more often. Just use bread flour.
  • Yeast – This recipe calls for Active Dry Yeast, that you need to bloom in water prior to mixing in the flour. You can substitute 1:1 for Instant Dried Yeast, but I have run into a few hiccups with it. Because the proof time is so short just make sure you are watching your dough carefully when using instant yeast, your dough may potentially be done proofing about 15-20 minutes earlier.
  • Olive Oil – Pick a good, flavorful extra virgin olive oil. The olive oil adds a ton of flavor to the dough so don’t skimp here. I like to use Graza or Brightland, but use what you like.

    Can you substitute for regular olive oil? Absolutely not. This dough needs the flavor; without it, the taste is just sort of meh. And if you’re going for meh, you might as well buy store-bought.
  • Greek Yogurt – Unflavored thick Greek Yogurt. Fage is a great option.
  • Sugar – Just a touch for the yeast.
  • Salt – A fine sea salt or kosher salt works for this recipe. While I use Morton’s kosher salt in 90% of my recipes, this is a place where it just doesn’t belong. Diamond Crystal is a great option here because the grains are much finer

TOOLS NEEDED

  • Kitchen Scale – Before you come at me for all the ingredients being in grams (except for 1 or 2 ingredients), let me tell you why bread making NEEDS to be weighed out vs measured: Accuracy.

    Weigh out 1 cup of flour and see where the weight lands. I guarantee you it won’t be 120g. Now use a different measuring cup. Did you get the same weight? Chances are you didn’t. I have three measuring cups at home, and neither of them yields the same results. Even worse, they are +/-25g of what an actual cup is. To achieve consistent results like this recipe, weighing all the ingredients is essential.

    Don’t have a kitchen scale? I use the OXO Stainless Steel Scale, and it’s fantastic—quick (IYKYK), accurate, and convenient . Plus, the reader pops out so you can still read it even with those big bowls.
  • Large Cutting Board – I have a designated oversized wooden cutting board for bread making. One, to ensure there’s no cross-contamination, and two, so that my dough doesn’t pick up any unwanted scent or taste… I see you, garlic.
  • Sheet Pans – Completely up to you, but I rest my dough balls on a Nordic Ware Bakers 1/2 Sheet. It is large enough to hold all 8 dough balls without them touching.
a plate of chewy homemade pita bread

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE PITA BREAD

Like my sourdough focaccia, I’ve tested this homemade pita bread recipe at least 10-15 times before writing this post. I’ve adjusted timelines, tried substitutes, and ensured the recipe is foolproof. However, no recipe is entirely foolproof because the kitchen environment plays a significant role, especially in bread making.

Higher temperatures as well as higher altitudes will adjust the proof time. While I haven’t personally proofed bread at a higher altitude, bread will typically rise faster due to lower air pressure. Watch your dough carefully and reduce the proof time if it appears to show signs of readiness before the expected time. The same goes for higher temperatures. A 68-degree kitchen in New Jersey will yield a slower proof than a kitchen in Texas.

BLOOM THE YEAST

Because we’re working with active dry yeast, we want to bloom the yeast first. In your stand mixer bowl, add the warm water. If you have a thermometer, heat the water between 76°F and 80°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, simply pour in warm water. Add the yeast, sugar, and olive oil. Let this mixture sit for 3 minutes. The yeast will start to get a bit foamy, and that’s normal.

Why do we bloom the yeast? Since we’re using active yeast, if you don’t bloom it, you’ll be left with undissolved yeast in the dough after proofing. If you’re opting for instant yeast, technically you don’t need to do this, but feel free to follow the instructions if you prefer.

MAKE THE DOUGH + KNEAD

Once the yeast has bloomed for 3 minutes, add the flour, sugar, and Greek yogurt. Run the stand mixer for about 1 minute until the dough comes together and is shaggy in nature. Not dry and shaggy, just shaggy. If it’s still dry, let the stand mixer run for a few more seconds.

Unfortunately, this marks the end of the stand mixer. On a lightly floured surface, dump the dough out. Keep a few tablespoons of flour on the side and begin kneading the dough. It will be sticky, so use the flour as needed to prevent sticking to your hands and the board. Knead for 5 minutes until the dough comes together and develops some gluten. The final texture should be bumpy, tacky, but not sticky.

Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and a towel, then let it sit and proof for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Why can’t I knead the dough in the stand mixer? Stand mixer kneading and good old-fashioned elbow grease are very different. When testing this recipe, I attempted to take the easier route, but the dough simply didn’t develop enough gluten even after kneading for 10+ minutes.

SPLIT + REST

The dough needs approximately an hour and a half to two hours to proof. This time will depend on the temperature of your kitchen. Ultimately, the dough should double or more in size in the bowl. Once you have this indicator, dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using your kitchen scale, cut off 110-112 grams of dough to ultimately get 8 equally sized pitas.

Now it’s time to fold and form into balls. One by one, gently pull the edges in on itself, taking each corner and folding it into the center, rolling the dough with your hands as you bring the final corner in to form a ball (see images below). Pinch the seam to seal. Use a circular motion with your hands, cupping the dough, to roll it against the surface until a round ball is formed.

Place each ball on a lightly oiled sheet tray with about an inch of space between them. Cover them with plastic wrap and allow them to rest for 15 minutes max 30 minutes.

ROLL

After the dough has rested for a short amount of time, one by one, you are going to roll it into a flat circle. On the lightly floured surface, press the dough balls down with your fingertips, creating a circle. Then, using a rolling pin, begin to roll the dough out towards you, rotating it 45 degrees after every roll to ensure you get an even circle.

Do not roll the dough out too much! You are aiming for about 1/4 inch thickness. If the dough is too thin, it won’t puff up and create a pocket. Place the raw pita breads back on an oiled sheet pan and cover them with a damp towel. Continue to roll out the remaining pita breads.

COOK

When you have about 2-3 pita breads left, place a skillet on the stove and allow it to heat up over medium heat. You need the skillet to be blazing hot to get the pocket. Heat for about 5 minutes.

Starting with the first pita you rolled out, place it on the hot pan. Flip the pita every 12-15 seconds. If the dough proofed correctly and the pan is hot enough, on about the 3rd to 4th flip, you should see a developing air pocket. Gently take a spatula and lightly push the air pocket to distribute it across the bread. The homemade pita bread will puff up. Cook for about 10-15 more seconds, then remove and place it on a towel-lined plate.

Let’s talk pans. The pan you choose can ultimately dictate how brown your pita gets. While both light and dark-colored pans will cook the pita, the light ones won’t brown the pita as much. Light-colored cookware reflects heat, while dark ones absorb it.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS / TROUBLE SHOOTING

My pita bread started puffing up and then stopped?

Chances are there is a hole, which happens sometimes, especially if you stretched the pita out too thin. You can either accept that the pita won’t form a pocket, OR you can locate the hole and press on it with your spatula. I’ve successfully saved a lot of pitas this way.

My pita bread didn’t puff up.

A few things here: A. Your yeast might be old. B. The pan might not be hot enough. You need the pan to be extremely hot. C. You let the pita sit in the pan for too long before flipping. Admittedly, I’ve walked away from the pan for 20-30 seconds and forgot to do the first flip. Those are always the pitas that didn’t puff up. Or finally D. You over-proofed your dough. When dough is over-proofed it looses a lot of its structure. A loose dough will not puff up.

Bread that didn’t form a pocket is still just as delicious and is perfect to use for dips or making a wrap.

Why did my pita not brown?

Either the pan wasn’t hot enough, or you’re cooking in a light-colored pa. I’ve found that using a Green Pan with a white interior doesn’t brown the same as with a dark-colored pan.

Can I bake this in the oven?

No. Not only does the soft and chewy texture change (think hard and dry like store-bought), but if you happen to have one that pops a hole, there is no way to fix it. Whereas in the pan, you can cover the hole with the spatula; in the oven, you’re kind of out of luck.

8 pitas are not enough, can I double this recipe?

Absolutely, if you are opting to use a stand mixer for the first part the Kitchen Aid 5.5 qt fits the dough perfectly. Just keep in mind it takes significantly longer to form, roll out, and cook 16 pitas.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH THIS PITA BREAD

Oh, come on, you don’t need help with this. Frankly, it’s so good you may just end up eating it plain. But if you’re looking for a bit of substance, below are some great ideas and recipes on this site that pair perfectly with this chewy and soft pita bread.

STORING/REHEATING

When ready to store, wrap the pita bread in aluminum foil. It can be stored on the counter for up to 1 day, in the refrigerator for 5-7 days, or in the freezer for 1-2 months. When ready to reheat, I highly suggest you heat it in a 350°F oven until warm or use a toaster oven.

May 5, 2024

Homemade Pita Bread (Chewy & Soft)

Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Course Dinner, Lunch, Mezze, Side Dish
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Keyword Bread
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 20 minutes
Resting Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings 8 people

Ingredients

  • 302 g water
  • 14 g yeast 1 1/2 tbsp
  • 35 g olive oil 2 1/2 tbsp
  • 12.5 g sugar 1 tbsp
  • 480 g flour + extra for kneading and rolling
  • 10 g salt
  • 67 g Greek yogurt

Instructions

  • If opting to use a stand mixer add 302g of warm water (between 76℉-80℉ if possible). Add in the yeast, sugar, and olive oil and let this sit for 3 minutes to allow the yeast to bloom.
  • While you are waiting on the yeast, combine the flour and salt in another bowl.
  • Add the flour mixture, and greek yogurt to the water bowl and run the stand mixer on low for 1 minute, until the dough is shaggy, but not dry.
  • Remove the dough from the stand mixer bowl and place on a lightly floured surface with a few tbsp of additional flour on the side to help knead the dough.
  • Knead the dough for 5 minutes. The dough texture will be sticky to start. Use flour when needed to prevent it from sticking to your hands and the surface. By the end of the 5 minutes the dough will be tacky, slightly bumpy, but not sticky.
  • Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and a towel, then let it sit and proof for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Ultimately, the dough should double or more in size.
  • Once you have this indicator, dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using your kitchen scale, weigh your dough and divide by 8. You should be cutting off 110-112 grams of dough however depending on how much dough stuck and how much additional flour you used it may be +- a few grams.
  • Now it's time to fold and form into balls. One by one, gently pull the edges in on itself, taking each corner and folding it into the center, rolling the dough with your hands as you bring the final corner in to form a ball (see images in post). Pinch the seam to seal. Use a circular motion with your hands, cupping the dough, to roll it against the surface until a round ball is formed.
  • Place each ball on a lightly oiled sheet tray with about an inch of space between them. Cover them with plastic wrap and allow them to rest for 15 minutes, 30 minutes max.
  • After the dough has rested, one by one, you are going to roll it into a flat circle. On the lightly floured surface, press the dough balls down with your fingertips, creating a circle. Then, using a rolling pin, begin to roll the dough out towards you, rotating it 45 degrees after every roll to ensure you get an even circle about ¼ inch thick (approx. 7-8"). I found it super helpful to flip over the dough circle after the second roll, the dough should fight back less.
  • Place the raw pita back on an oiled sheet pan and cover them with a damp towel. Continue to roll out the remaining pita breads.
  • When you have about 2-3 pita breads left, place a skillet on the stove and allow it to heat up over medium heat. You need the skillet to be blazing hot to get the pocket. Heat the skillet for approx. 5 minutes.
  • Starting with the first pita you rolled out, place it on the hot pan. Flip the pita every 12-15 seconds. By the 3rd to 4th flip you should see a developing air pocket. Gently take a spatula and lightly push the air pocket to distribute it across the bread. The pita should puff up. Cook for about 10-15 more seconds, then remove and place it on a towel-lined plate.
  • Continue this with the remaining pitas. *see troubleshooting notes and questions in post if your pita does not puff up.

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