There’s nothing that makes me prouder than watching homemade pita puff up with a nice pita pocket. And I’ve spent a bunch of time perfecting the pocket for you. That’s a lot of watching pita puff.
The Ooni pizza oven is the perfect tool for pita because it gets to temperatures as high as 950 degrees Fahrenheit. But you can get pita pockets in a home oven as long as you have a pizza stone.
Stuff that beautifully formed pita pocket with Greek chicken meatballs or my lamb meatballs or quinoa balls with pine nuts and raisins. Or, if the pocket doesn’t form, eat your pita like a wrap. Or tear off pieces like a Neanderthal and use it to scoop into shakshuka or this creamy lemon herb tahini sauce.
Pita (pitta, pide, or any number of variations) refers to a flatbread common to the Middle East and Mediterranean region. While Middle Eastern pita is known for its pita pocket, Greek pita is most often a pocket-less pita used to wrap gyro meat, kebabs, and other things.
Tips and tricks
This pita recipe was adapted from my Ooni pizza dough recipe. The key to getting the pita pocket is a wet dough that’s baked at high temperature. The water in the dough turns into steam, puffing up the layers into a pocket that collapses as the pita cools.
To make the pita dough, add the flours, yeast, salt, and sugar to your mixing bowl. (Panel #1, below). You can mix this dough using your hands or a stand mixer.
Add the water and olive oil and, if you are using a stand mixer, mix using the paddle until the dough comes together (Panel #2, below). Switch to the dough hook and knead for about 7 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic (10 minutes or more if you are kneading by hand). You want it to be sticky (Panel #3), so resist the urge to add more flour.
Shape the dough into a boule (Panel #1 below), cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the pita dough rise until it has about doubled in size (Panel #2). This should take one to two hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
Tip from the wise quacker: the ideal temperature for bread to rise is high 70s to low 80s. You can create a cozy warm spot by heating a cup of water in your microwave – heat, remove the water, then put your dough in and close the door quickly. Or turn on your oven to low temperature for just a few minutes. Don’t put your dough in the oven in case you forget to turn it off, and put a sign on the oven so you don’t preheat your oven for something else!
Divide your pita dough into eight equal-sized pieces (Panel #1 below) and shape each one into a ball (Panel #2). I do this by pinching the bottom of the dough round together to tighten it up, then flipping it over onto the countertop and rolling it under a cupped hand.
Cover the balls with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let the balls rise again for about 30 to 60 minutes at most while you heat your oven (Panel #3, above). Use a rolling pin to roll each round on a lightly floured countertop into a 6 inch circle. Place them on a silicone mat or lightly floured baking sheet to ready them for cooking (Panel #4).
Baking pita in your home oven
If you are baking the pita in your home oven, put a pizza stone on a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to its maximum temperature for at least 30 minutes. When you are ready to bake your pita, place as many pita rounds onto your stone as will fit. Close the oven.
If you have successful pita pockets, they will slowly puff up over three to five minutes as you stare at them through the oven door. Flip them over and cook the other side another few minutes until lightly browned.
Put the cooked pita in a bowl or basket covered with a clean kitchen towel and cook the next batch. Serve your pita warm or at room temperature.
Baking pita in the Ooni pizza oven
If you are baking the pita in your Ooni pizza oven, preheat the Ooni to its maximum temperature for at least 15 to 20 minutes, then turn it down to low. Launch your pita rounds towards the outside of the oven.
I often do this by hand, but you can also use a peel. Launch one or two at a time at first so you get a sense of how quickly they cook and how often you need to turn them.
If you have successful pita pockets, you’ll see them start to puff immediately. Turn them nearly continuously to get an even browning, then use your peel to remove them, flip them over, and relaunch. Cook the other side another minute or two, again turning nearly continuously.
Let cooked pita cool in a bowl covered with a clean kitchen towel. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Be careful to remember to turn down the temperature once your stone has preheated. Pita will catch on fire if the temperature if your Ooni pizza oven is too hot or you launch it too far back. Or, in my case, you’re trying to take photos and video of your pita pocket puffing up. Oops.
What to serve with pita
- Lamb meatballs with raisins and pine nuts or a vegetarian quinoa version
- Moroccan chicken with dates
- Fawaffle (waffled falafel)
- Pumpkin couscous salad
- Lemon herb tahini sauce, hummus, baba ganoush, or this creamy sumac dressing.
- Use pita as the sandwich bread with this cranberry chicken salad or your favorite sandwich. Add a purple cabbage salad or coleslaw or raw carrot salad for crunch.
How to store pita
As you’re making the pita, put them in a bowl covered with a clean kitchen towel. Once they are cool, you can store pita in a plastic bag at room temperature for a few days. For longer storage, freeze pita in a freezer bag after squeezing out all the air.
Variations and substitutions
- omit the whole wheat flour and use all bread flour.
- for even more flavor, do the first rise overnight in the refrigerator. Reduce the yeast to one teaspoon.
Yes, you can freeze leftover pita in a freezer bag. To warm frozen pita, you can toast it in your toaster, or let it come to room temperature slowly.
Although both naan and pita are flatbreads, naan is an enriched bread often made with ghee or butter, yogurt or milk, and occasionally with egg.
If you have an Ooni pizza oven, check out my Ooni pizza dough recipe. Or take a peek at some of my favorite bread recipes in the uglyducklingbakery archives like this semolina bread, pretzel bread, or sweet brown bread.
- Mixer optional
- Rolling Pin
- Pizza stone If cooking in a home oven
- 2¾ cups (344 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (35 grams) whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Mix together the dry ingredients in your mixing bowl.2¾ cups (344 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, ¼ cup (35 grams) whole wheat flour, 2 teaspoons instant yeast, 1½ teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- Add the water and olive oil and mix until it comes together. Use a dough hook or your hands to knead the dough until it is soft and elastic, about 7 minutes by mixer or 10 minutes by hand. It should be quite sticky, so try to resist the urge to add more flour.1 cup lukewarm water, 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Shape the dough into a boule, put it back in your bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about two hours.
- Divide the dough into eight equal parts. Shape each part into a small ball, place on a baking sheet, cover again with plastic wrap, and let rise for about 30 to 60 minutes.
- If you will be baking the pita in your home oven, put a pizza stone on a rack in the middle of the oven. Turn your home oven or Ooni pizza oven to its maximum temperature to heat up the stone.
- On a lightly floured countertop, roll the pita balls into rounds about 6 inches in diameter. Let rest for about 10 minutes.
- If using a home oven, place as many pita rounds as will fit on your pizza stone. If you are baking in an Ooni pizza oven, turn down the oven to low and start with just one or two. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes until the pita has fully puffed (it should take less time in the Ooni). Flip your pita over to cook the other side for another few minutes until lightly browned.
- Remove the pita from the oven and place in a bowl covered with a clean kitchen towel. Repeat with the remaining pita.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
If you make these pita pockets, please leave a comment and rating. Pretty please!
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