Heavenly Homemade Whole Wheat Pitas

I am delinquent in posting about these super easy whole wheat pitas that I made from Everybunny Loves Food in the Taste & Create exchange last month. Now living in the Middle East but having spent her teen years in India, Sana has so many fascinating recipes, especially for someone who loves Indian food (me!). I am clueless to some of the ingredients used but worth figuring out in order to try a few of her authentic recipes. Lots of desserts too as she is one of the Daring Bakers. All the recipes I perused on her blog were detailed with instructions and explanations and many photos.

We were having soup one night, and when I saw her recipe for whole wheat pitas, I knew I found my recipe. They turned out simply beautiful. I used quick rise yeast and kneaded them by hand instead of using the food processor as I normally do when making anything with yeast. The only thing is that I need to learn to roll dough in a circle better. Mine came out in rather interesting, odd shapes and not round. I have the same issue with pizza dough. But they tasted delicious. Puffy, also pillowy, and perfectly browned and slightly crunchy. Craig suggested adding minced garlic and/or other spices and herbs, depending on what we’re serving them with. Absolutely terrific with hummus and chicken salad.

This is the original recipe with my changes noted, and the method reflects the steps that I followed.

Whole Wheat Pitas
Makes 8

3 C flour *I used half all purpose flour, half pastry whole wheat flour
1 1/2 t salt
1 T sugar or honey *I used sugar

1 packet yeast (or, If from bulk, 2 t yeast) *I used 21/4 t rapid rise yeast
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 C water, roughly at room temperature *I always measure temp to 120 – 130 degree F
2 T olive oil, vegetable oil, butter, or shortening *I used olive oil

Place the flours, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large mixing bowl and combine. Mix the water and olive oil and add to the flour mixture. Using your hands, knead the dough until it forms a ball, adding more water or flour depending on the stickiness of the dough. Knead the dough for 10 minutes to get a smooth round ball.
(Sana suggests this method for kneading:  “A simple hand kneading technique is to firmly press down on the dough with the palm of your hand, fold the dough in half toward you like you are closing an envelope, rotate the dough 90 degrees and then repeat these steps.”)

Spray a bowl with cooking spray, place the dough into the bowl, cover with a clean dish towel, and set aside until it has doubled in size. Punch the dough down to release any trapped gases and divide it into eight pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover the balls with a damp dish towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes.

(She indicates: “This step allows the dough to relax so that it'll be easier to shape.”)

While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 400 degree F. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to preheat.

(Sana offers this trick if you don’t have a pizza stone: “If you do not have a baking stone, turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it on the middle rack of the oven while you are preheating the oven. This will be the surface on which you bake your pitas. I used my cookie sheet and they came out just fine.”)

After the dough has rested, spread a light coating of flour on a work surface and sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough. Use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch and flatten the dough to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. If the dough does not stretch sufficiently, cover it with a damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.

(“I found that the pitas that I rolled out lightly using the rolling pin puffed up evenly. So it is important to use the rolling pin gently and roll it out as evenly in a circle as possible.” And I agree. I used a rolling pin and they puffed nicely.)

Place as many pitas as possible on the pizza stone and bake for three to five minutes, depending on your preference for softer or crunchier pitas. Repeat and bake any remaining dough.

These can be individually frozen and reheated in a warm oven for a few minutes.

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