These authentic flat “pocket” breads of the past, originally baked on hot stones have made a great comeback! The hollow or split pitas may enjoyed with any part of the meal or stuffed with hot or cold, savoury or sweet fillings. For best results, knead the dough very well and allow for a thorough first rising (until completely doubled) before shaping into flat breads and rising once more.
Prep time 45 minutes (including rising time)
Cook time 30 minutes
1 x 8 g sachet (1 tsp/5 ml) instant yeast (or use double quantity for quicker rising)
3 cups (750 ml) bread flour
2 cups (500 ml) lukewarm water
¼ cup (60 ml) melted butter or olive oil
1 Tbsp (15 ml) sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) salt
± 1½ cups (375 ml) extra bread flour
- Mix the yeast with the first measure of flour in a mixing bowl, the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook or a food processor. Add all the remaining ingredients except the extra flour and mix well.
- Add just enough of the extra flour gradually to form a dough which can be handled comfortably. Take care not to make the dough to firm for it will be difficult to work with and the end results will be dry as well.
- Knead the dough by hand on a floured surface for about 5 minutes, in the mixer for 4 to 5 minutes or 2 to 3 minutes in the bowl of a food processor until smooth and elastic. Sprinkle lightly with flour and shape into a neat ball.
- Return the dough to the bowl used, cover and let rise until doubled, about 3 to 40 minutes – allow to rise very well and double completely for the best pitas.
- Knead down the dough and pinch off balls the size of a small apple for large pitas or the size of a large egg for smaller pitas. Sprinkle with flour, cover and allow to rise for 15 minutes.
- Roll out the balls on a well-floured surface into either round or oval-shaped pitas about 1 cm thick. Sprinkle with flour, cover with a cloth and rise 20 minutes.
- Place firm baking trays (not greased) which will not warp in the oven, into the oven and preheat the oven to 220ºC while flat breads are rising. Turn over each flat bread when placing onto the hot trays so that the moist underneath side is on top and the pitas will puff up and become hollow during baking.
- Place the breads into the oven, reduce heat to 180ºC and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or until puffed and lightly coloured but not browned. Cool on a wire rack.
Recipe by Carolié de Koster from the Art of Cooking Recipe Book p. 832.