Homemade Whole Grain Pita Bread
A simple, reliable recipe for making your own homemade spelt pita bread. Packed with whole grains and without any unnecessary add-ins or preservatives. This recipe is one you’ll return to time and time again. Making pita at home has never been so easy! <jump to recipe>
Can we all agree that artisan bread is making a comeback? Lately, we've been savoring a dark crusty loaf made of buckwheat, red fife, spelt and whole wheat flour. Toast me up a slice of that, and ready for my eyes to roll back into my head. It's that good. The abundance of quality, artisan bread has prevented me from trying to to recreate such madness at home. Because, frankly, I'd much rather tuck away a handmade loaf from the farmers' market than harvest my own yeast at home (for now, at least).
On the other hand, pita is an entirely different ball game. I don't know about you, but my store-bought options for pita are pretty pathetic. It's near impossible to find a quality whole grain option at the store - one that lacks a long list of unpronounceables. I once even picked up a package where the pita were literally sweating in their printed plastic bags. So not chill, dude. So until the artisan pita industry picks up, I'm making these babies at home. Because unlike fancy French bread, I can almost make pita with my eyes closed.
It takes just a handful of ingredients to make your own pita at home. I choose spelt flour as the base, because I prefer it over whole wheat and since we're making our own, why not. A combination of yeast, honey and warm water gets the mixture going. A bit of salt and olive oil added at the end brings in a light touch of flavor. Perfect for stuffing to your heart's content.
We've made this recipe a bunch of times now and have learned there are a few tricks to getting the perfect puff. Since there's less gluten in whole grain flour (and especially spelt flour), it's normal to get a less extreme puff than white flour counterparts. But the puff is still in your reach! So, now to the tricks. First of all, it's important that you're using fresh and active yeast. The proofing step (i.e. dissolving yeast in warm water and honey) will help you ensure your yeast is alive (they are living creatures after all!). If your mixture foams and doubles in volume, then you know the little guys are still kickin'. And, before you get too excited, know that hot water can kill the yeast, so make sure it’s warm, but not too hot, before adding (ideally around 100–110˚F / 38-43˚C). If you don’t have a kitchen thermometer, test with your finger: the water should feel comfortably warm. Secondly, be diligent about rolling out your dough. Aim to get the dough around 1/8" (0.3 cm) thick, or just slightly over. Exceed ¼" (0.6 cm) and you'll risk your pita not puffing up in the center. Thirdly, make sure get your oven up to a screeching hot temperate (475˚F) and keep your baking sheet in the oven as it preheats. The hot baking sheet helps to create the steam required to quickly puff up your pita. And lastly, when placing your pita on the tray, flip them face down. It'll help your pita bake more evenly since they'll continue rise after you roll them out. It's a weird trick, but I swear it works.
Now get baking! And look out for some pita filling recipes I have up my sleeve. Can't wait to share!
WHOLE GRAIN SPELT PITA BREAD
MAKES 6 PITAS
1 teaspoon yeast (0.18 oz/5 g)
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 - 3/4 cup warm water, divided*
2 1/4 cups spelt flour (11.5 oz/325 g)**, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing
In a small bowl, combine yeast, honey and 1/4 cup warm water. Stir with your finger until yeast is dissolved. Set aside for 10 minutes. The mixture should bubble and expand.
In a large bowl, stir together flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture, additional 1/4 cup of warm water and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Mix together with a spoon until the mixture starts to come together. If more moisture is needed, start by adding 1 tablespoon water at a time (up to maximum of 1/4 cup).
Finish by kneading the dough by hand for at least 10 minutes until it becomes resilient and smooth. Form dough into a ball. Lightly grease the bowl with olive oil and set dough inside. Allow the dough to rise in the bowl at room temperature (covered) for ~1 1/2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down to release the air. Preheat the oven to 475°F and leave a baking sheet (or pizza stone) in the oven as it heats. Separate the dough into 6 even round balls. On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out dough into flat disks that span ~6" / 15 cm in diameter, and are 1/8-1/4" (0.3-0.6 cm) thick. After rolling, let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
Place pita (upside down) onto the hot baking sheet. Depending on the size, you should be able to fit 2-3 pita on the baking sheet at a time. Bake for 4-5 minutes until the pockets are lightly browned and puffed up in the center. Allow the baking sheet to reheat in the oven for 2 minutes before your next batch. Store pita in a sealed container.
-*Water temperature should be between 100–110˚F / 38–43˚C.
-**For most accurate results, use a kitchen scale to measure flour (by weight). Otherwise, ensure your flour is fluffed up well prior to spooning into and leveling a measuring cup.
-For easiest cleanup, you can knead the dough in the bowl itself. If the dough is sticking to your hand, lightly dust it with flour.