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Born and raised in the Middle East, found it much difficult in the beginning at least, 13 years ago – to adapt here in US without pita bread served in the breakfast, or even in every meal. That was before I got to know every place in the city I’m living in. Although, after we introduced to some local stores who sell the pita, it was not like what I used to eat. So why will be amazed to make pita at home when I can buy it? At how much better the home-made pita than the commercial pita?
The home-made is much better, the texture is chewy and very soft, more pliable, and don’t tear when you fill it unlike the ones you bought from stores. Very hard to stop at one, the smell of the fresh bread is totally different. Once you start making your own bread, you and your family will be spoiled. Besides, it’s really fun to make, even the kids will enjoy it. While my memories always taking me to those beautiful childhoodish moments, where I was my grandma’s helper when making the pita at home, she was the best in making very delicious pita bread, with the aromatic calming smell of baked fresh pita, you will know you are home…

The pita bread originated in the holy land, dating back to Biblical times. Arabic bread, Kmaj or pita are all names refer to a round hollow crust evenly baked flat bread found throughout the Middle East. An air pocket forms in the middle during baking, turning the bread into balls of dough skin, they are flattened only once cool.
Knives, forks, and spoons aren’t necessary in most of middle eastern meals as long as bread is present. A single layer of bread torn into bite-sized pieces serves as a scooper of dips and salads, meat wrapper, olive twister, and plate cleaner.
When cut across the diameter, it provides an instant pocket to fill with any type of food. Triangles of bread are often fried, toasted or baked and used to embellish main courses. They also serve as bottom layer of many fattat (dishes using bread as a main component in which meat or chickpeas are heaped in layers over bread, then topped with alternating layers of rice and garlic flavoured yogurt, sprinkled with layers of pine nuts parsley and mint). Dried bread finds its way into salads much as using croutons.

Pita bread is best when it baked traditional way, in a very hot stone oven, but making pita bread at home is very easy too, and you can meet a very good result with home oven. I usually bake my bread on ceramic tile, after heating the oven at 500 deg f for at least 20 min. The quarry tiles (be careful not to use the glazed surface) also is very good for baking bread, usually found at home improvement stores. Pizza stone works also can be used.
Kneading the bread for sufficient time is a very important step in making pita, and this will assure the forming of the pocket or the puff inside the bread.
 Here is some important hints for making the pita:
1. the basic plan in making pita is to get steam inside to puff up inside the bread before the bread bakes. This is why you need soft moist dough with little fat in it. Also this is why the bread is baked in a very high temperature at the bottom of the oven.
2. If you are using a cookie sheet to bake the bread, thick one may not allow the heat to penetrate quickly enough to the pita bread dough. This will cause the bread to cook before it has a chance to puff up, so use thin cookie sheets.
Remember the basic for better pockets: Moist dough, sufficient Kneading, resting, very hot oven temperatures.

Pita Bread (all white dough)

1 package of dry yeast, 2 1\2 teaspoon
1/2 cup warm water
2 teaspoon granulated sugar
4-4 1\2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoon dry milk
1 1\2 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoon olive oil

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until water is frothy.

Combine 4 cups of flour, milk and salt in large bowl, or the stand mixer bowl.

Make a small depression in the middle of flour and pour 1 tablespoon oil and yeast water in depression.

Slowly add 1 cup of warm water, using the hook attachment, stir to form a dough, add the rest of flour as kneaded, continue kneading until elastic, about 5-7 min.

Place dough on floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, add the remaining oil and knead some more to incorporate the oil into the dough. When the dough is no longer sticky and is smooth and elastic, it has been successfully kneaded.

Coat large bowl with oil and place dough in bowl. Turn dough upside down so all of the dough is coated. Allow to sit in a warm place for about 1\4 hour.

Once rested, pinch out 10-12 small pieces, depending on the size you like your pita. Place balls on floured surface. Let sit covered for 10 minutes.
Roll out each ball of dough with a rolling pin into circles. Using a wooden cutting board let this process more easy. Each should be about 5-6 inches across and 1/4 inch thick or more if you want it a little more thick.

place circles of dough on flat boards or a table, cover with dry cloth and let rise for 1 hour. Meanwhile, Preheat oven to 500 deg F. and make sure rack is at the very bottom of oven. Be sure to also preheat your baking sheet, if you are using a ceramic stone you will need to allow more time to heat.

Bake pita bread in batches for 2 minutes until the bread puffs up. Once puffed, flip them to the other side so the top side becomes the bottom on the sheet or stone, and the moisture surface is now exposed and rises more easily the other side, bake for 2 min more. Remove using a spatula and add other pita for baking. Cover and keep the pita in a kitchen cloth to keep it warm and soft.

Push down the puffed pita. Immediately place in storage bags. take your daily serving and store the rest in the freezer.

Whole Wheat Pita Bread


The same recipe as above, just add an equal amount of white and whole wheat flour, and may use more water than the white flour alone.

The Gridler Pita

The same recipe as the whole white, but cut in small balls and  baked in the gridler, which is more easy and quick especaillay with small amounts.

 

Storing Pita Bread

Pita bread will remain soft outside at room temperature in a bread box for 2 days, and up to a month in the freezer. Be sure to use freezer bags when storing in the freezer. I usually double the amount given in the recipe, and keep it in the freezer.
Don’t refrigerate it, it will dry out.