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Welcome to My Hungry Boys where I share what I love to cook for my husband and our four sons.   I've made a lot of food over the years and I've learned a lot in the process. 

Pita Bread

Pita Bread

I really like homemade bread.  I could eat it every night, and I probably do.  It almost doesn't even matter what kind of bread it is... if it's fresh out of the oven, I'm all in. 

But I love homemade pita bread.  Most of all, I love watching it bake.  I always gasp when I peek into the oven and see them puffing up; that magical moment exemplifies my love of cooking.  When I first started making pita, the whole process seemed random and it drove me insane.  Some pitas puffed while others didn't.  But I think I've finally figured it out.  Now when I make pita bread, they all come out of the oven looking and feeling like precious pillows. 

I prefer instant yeast, but I have also included an alternative recipe (scroll down) if you prefer using using active dry yeast. See note here on instant yeast versus active dry yeast.

Just out of the oven.

Just out of the oven.


Tangzhong Pita Bread (Using Instant Yeast)

Scroll down for Pita Recipe Using Active Dry Yeast

Makes 8 pitas

In my years of baking pitas, I've learned there are a few things that prevent them from puffing:

  1. Oil in the dough. Don't oil the bowl, the counter, or the parchment.

  2. Dry dough. So, do your best to use just a little flour when forming and rolling your pitas.

  3. Any creases or folds in the rolled-out dough. Be extra careful not to fold or bunch your dough while rolling it.

This recipe calls for bread flour (12-13% protein).  If you opt for high gluten flour (14% protein) instead, increase the total water by ~3 tablespoons.  Using the Tangzhong method to make the pita bread ensures each pillow is soft and fluffy.

  • 4 cups bread flour (1 pound 1.6 ounces [use 1 ounce for Tangzhong and 1 pound .6 ounce for dough]) (See note for accurately measuring flour here)

  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt (if using table salt decrease to 1 teaspoon)

  • 1 ½ cups water (use 5 ounce for Tangzhong and the rest for dough)

For Tangzhong:   In a saucepan, whisk together 1 ounce flour (3⅔ tablespoons) with 5 ounce water (½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) until smooth.  Heat and continue whisking until the mixture is thick and gelatinous - I recommend heating until bubbling to assure the mixture reaches the necessary temperature, and switch from a whisk to a rubber spatula if necessary.  Stir continuously, as you want your mixture to be smooth and without lumps.   Remove from the heat, and add ½ cup of the reserved water to cool the mixture sufficiently so as not to kill the yeast when added to the flour and yeast. Whisk the mixture to blend completely.

Dough:  Combine the remaining bread flour (1 pound .6 ounce) with the salt, sugar, and instant yeast.  Stir.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; if the gelatinous mixture is cool enough that it will not kill the yeast, add it to the bowl.  Stir.  In the bowl of a KitchenAid Stand Mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix on medium-low speed adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time until your dough is soft and slightly sticky.  You'll probably use all but 1-2 tablespoons of the water.  You'll know you have the right consistency when the dough sticks slightly to the bottom of the bowl, but not the sides.  Resist adding the water too quickly, as it takes a while for the water to thoroughly fuse with the dough (if you think that you've added too much water, add an additional tablespoon or two of flour).  The entire kneading process should take ~ 5 minutes if done with a KitchenAid, and about twice as long if done by hand.  Tangzhong dough works best with less rather than more kneading as a long knead results in a heavy dough.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm spot until its size doubles.  (See tip on getting a faster rise.)

After the dough has risen, turn it onto a very lightly floured surface and divide into 8 equal pieces.  Cup each piece in your hand and form into a tight ball by rolling on the board (be careful not to work in too much flour!).  Place in a covered container and refrigerate for ~1 hour.  Although refrigeration isn't necessary, it makes the dough easier to work with and requires less bench flour.

Preheat oven to the highest temperature available (usually 450°F or 500°F).  A long preheat of at least 45 minutes allows the pizza stone to get sufficiently hot.  Take each ball of dough and place it on a lightly floured board, flouring it just enough to prevent it from sticking.  Carefully roll each ball out into a flat circle.  Let the dough rest for a few minutes if it fights back, then continue.  Lift each circle and stretch its edges to form a disk 5-6 inches in diameter.  Place each disk on parchment paper (I usually place 2-3 pitas on each sheet).  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rest for ~1 hour before baking.

Once your oven is extremely hot, place the pitas (with the parchment) on either a pizza peel or a sideless cookie sheet.  Carefully slide the parchment into the oven and onto either a hot stone or an upside down half sheet pan.  Quickly close the oven door.  It's a fast bake, only 3-4 minutes, so resist messing it up by opening the oven door.  After 3-4 minutes, the pitas should puff up, at which point you should remove them immediately.  If your pitas haven't puffed after ~6 minutes, they likely won't; that occasionally happens.  Make sure to give the oven a few minutes to get back up to maximum temperature between batches.

Tangzhong Pita Bread (Using Active Dry Yeast)

Makes 8 pitas

In my years of baking pitas, I've learned there are a few things that prevent them from puffing:

  1. Oil in the dough. Don't oil the bowl, the counter, or the parchment.

  2. Dry dough. So, do your best to use just a little flour when forming and rolling your pitas.

  3. Any creases or folds in the rolled-out dough. Be extra careful not to fold or bunch your dough while rolling it.

This recipe calls for bread flour (12-13% protein).  If you opt for high gluten flour (14% protein) instead, increase the total water by ~3 tablespoons.  Using the Tangzhong method to make the pita bread ensures each pillow is soft and fluffy.

  • 4 cups bread flour (1 pound 1.6 ounces [use 1 ounce for Tangzhong and 1 pound .6 ounce for dough]) (See note for accurately measuring flour here)

  • 1 package active dry yeast - ¼ ounce

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt (if using table salt decrease to 1 teaspoon)

  • 1 ½ cups water (use 5 ounce for Tangzhong and the rest for dough)

For Tangzhong:   In a saucepan, whisk together 1 ounce flour (3⅔ tablespoons) with 5 ounce water (½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) until smooth.  Heat and continue whisking until the mixture is thick and gelatinous - I recommend heating until bubbling to assure the mixture reaches the necessary temperature, and switch from a whisk to a rubber spatula if necessary.  Stir continuously as you want a smooth mixture without lumps.   Remove from the heat, and add ⅓ cup of the reserved water to cool the mixture sufficiently so as not to kill the yeast when added to the flour and yeast. Whisk the mixture to blend completely. In a small pan, heat ⅓ cup of water to ~100°F-110°F (do not exceed 110°F). Pour into a small container and stir in 1 teaspoon of sugar. Sprinkle and stir in the package of active dry yeast. Allow 5-10 minutes for it to get frothy.

Dough:  Combine the remaining bread flour (1 pound .6 ounce) with the salt.  Stir.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; once the gelatinous dough has cooled to the point that it will not kill the yeast, add it to the bowl together with the frothy yeast mixture.  Stir.  In the bowl of a KitchenAid Stand Mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix on medium-low speed adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time until your dough is soft and slightly sticky.  You'll probably use all but 1-2 tablespoons of the water.  You'll know you have the right consistency when the dough sticks slightly to the bottom of the bowl, but not the sides.  Resist adding the water too quickly, as it takes a while for the water to thoroughly fuse with the dough (if you think that you've added too much water, add an additional tablespoon or two of flour).  The entire kneading process should take ~ 5 minutes if done with a KitchenAid, and about twice as long if done by hand.  Tangzhong dough works best with less rather than more kneading as a long knead results in a heavy dough.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm spot until its size doubles.  (See tip on getting a faster rise.)

After the dough has risen, turn it onto a very lightly floured surface and divide into 8 equal pieces.  Cup each piece in your hand and form into a tight ball by rolling on the board (be careful not to work in too much flour!).  Place in a covered container and refrigerate for ~1 hour.  Although refrigeration isn't necessary, it makes the dough easier to work with and requires less bench flour.

Preheat oven to the highest temperature available (usually 450°F or 500°F).  A long preheat of at least 45 minutes allows the pizza stone to get sufficiently hot.  Take each ball of dough and place it on a lightly floured board, flouring it just enough to prevent it from sticking.  Carefully roll each ball out into a flat circle.  Let the dough rest for a few minutes if it fights back, then continue.  Lift each circle and stretch its edges to form a disk 5-6 inches in diameter.  Place each disk on parchment paper (I usually place 2-3 pitas on each sheet).  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rest for ~1 hour before baking.

Once your oven is extremely hot, place the pitas (with the parchment) on either a pizza peel or a sideless cookie sheet.  Carefully slide the parchment into the oven and onto either a hot stone or an upside down half sheet pan.  Quickly close the oven door.  It's a fast bake, only 3-4 minutes, so resist messing it up by opening the oven door.  After 3-4 minutes, the pitas should puff up, at which point you should remove them immediately.  If your pitas haven't puffed after ~6 minutes, they likely won't; that occasionally happens.  Make sure to give the oven a few minutes to get back up to maximum temperature between batches.

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