This staple of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines is surprisingly easy to make -- and the process feels almost magical. It starts with a simple yeast dough (we used some whole-wheat flour in addition to white) that gets baked in a very hot oven. The heat activates the yeast and creates steam, which makes the dough puff up dramatically, forming the signature pocket.
- Total Time:
- Yield: Makes 16
Photography: Lennart Weibull
Source: Martha Stewart Living, June 2015
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees)
- 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for bowl
- Fine cornmeal, for sprinkling
Make the dough
In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup all-purpose flour, yeast, honey, and 1 cup warm water until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes. Stir in remaining 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, salt, oil, and remaining 1 1/4 cups warm water.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead, dusting hands and work surface with more flour as needed, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover and let rise again until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Form and bake the dough
Punch down dough and form into a ball, then turn out onto lightly floured surface.
Quarter dough. Working with one piece at a time (drape a kitchen towel over the rest), divide each into 4 smaller pieces.
Roll each piece into a ball and pinch, tightening ball. Turn pinched-side down and flatten with your palm.
Flatten each ball into a 6-inch round with a lightly floured rolling pin.
Transfer rounds to rimmed baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal; drape with kitchen towels. Let stand 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 500 degrees with a rimmed baking sheet (flipped upside down) on rack in lowest position. Place 4 dough rounds on preheated sheet. Bake until puffed, about 2 minutes. Flip and bake until golden in spots and just cooked through, 1 minute more. Transfer to a basket lined with a kitchen towel; cover to steam and keep warm. Bake remaining pitas.
Pita is best served the same day but can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one day.