When I was 20, I had the great privilege of spending a semester in Jerusalem at the BYU Jerusalem Center. I can’t eat pita bread without thinking of Jerusalem! We ate it at nearly every meal, and never got tired of it.
Ever since, I’ve been making pita bread at home. It’s easy, cheap, and will make you popular in a heartbeat if you share it. Also a perk: it doesn’t take as much time as most homemade bread. It takes just over an hour, start to finish.
The trick to pita bread is getting it to puff up in the oven. Once you achieve that, the puff collapses and that forms the pocket. I’ve had many batches that don’t puff up and we don’t have pockets, but the bread is still delicious. I’ve put some of my tips for good pocket formation the recipe: very hot oven, and letting the dough rise long enough. Using partial white flour also seems to help (whole wheat flour is heavier and always makes it harder for bread to rise), but I’ve achieved the pocket while using 100% whole wheat, too.
You can stuff it with all sorts of things! Those little pockets make a great space for bananas, peanut butter, strawberries, and a drizzle of honey and cinnamon, as seen above.
My other favorite, pictured below, is a slather of hummus and a spoonful of fresh, crisp Greek salad. What else do you like to put in pita pockets? Pizza ingredients? Avocado? Falafel? Curried Chickpea Salad?
One of my favorite dinners of all time: homemade pita, homemade hummus, and homemade Greek salad.
This soft, delicious pita bread is oil-free, easy, and the perfect pair with homemade hummus and a Greek salad!
- 5 cups whole wheat flour (or a combination of bread flour and whole wheat flour)
- 4 tsp salt
- 4 tsp dry yeast
- 2 tbsp honey or sugar
- 2 cups warm water
In a glass liquid measuring cup, stir together the 2 cups warm water with the honey and yeast. Let sit for about 5 minutes until foamy.
In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour with salt.
Stir the water mixture in the bowl with flour, and beat vigorously for 3 minutes with a wooden spoon. It's a good workout! Gradually stir in the remaining 3 cups of the flour.
Turn the dough out onto a clean counter top and set a timer for 6 minutes. Knead dough for 6 minutes.
Shape the dough into a flat disk. Using a knife or a dough cutter, cut the disk into even fourths, then eighths, then sixteenths to form 16 even pieces. Roll the pieces into little balls, and cover with a towel. Let rest for at least 30 minutes, up to 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, preheat it with the oven.
Use the palm of your hand to flatten each ball into a disk. Finish with a rolling pin, flattening the dough into a disk about 6 inches in diameter and ¼ inch thick. Their thinness is more important than making them perfectly round. Irregularity adds charm, I always say.
Place each round on a square of foil or a pizza stone, and carefully place 3 or 4 of the pita breads directly on the oven rack (not on a pan). Bake 4-5 minutes, or until they are puffed.When you remove them from the oven, stack them up and put them immediately into a plastic bag. This keeps the dough soft while the tops fall, leaving the pocket in the center!
Tips for getting your pita to puff up and create a pocket: if you have time, let the dough rise for 60 minutes instead of 30.
If you don't get a pocket using 100% whole wheat flour, use 1 or 2 cups of white bread flour, as whole wheat is heavier and has a harder time rising.
Make sure to set your oven all the way to 500 degrees and let it preheat for about 30 minutes before you start cooking your bread.
Even if your pitas don't rise the first time, the bread will still be delicious, and you can just fold it like a taco to get a pocket. Keep trying with these tips and you'll have pita pockets in no time!