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.