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    Recipe: Make Your Own Fresh Pita Bread

    by Michele T.

    Recently at the Culinary Literacy Center, Bruce Schimmel, founder of the Philadelphia City Paper and community chef, taught a class on Israeli salads and their perfect pairing—pita bread! With just a few ingredients you can make this traditional Mediterranean flat bread at home and pair it with a warming dish of chickpea and cauliflower curry. Be sure to check out future classes with Chef Schimmel in 2016 at the Free Library’s Culinary Literacy Center.

    Pita Bread

    Serves 8


    • 1 cup warm water (not hot or boiling)
    • 2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
    • 2½ - 3 cups of all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil


    • mixing bowl
    • rolling pin
    • cast-iron skillet (for stovetop baking) or
    • baking sheet or a baking stone (oven baking)


    • Mix the water and yeast together and let sit for about 5 minutes, until the yeast is dissolved.
    • Add 2½ cups of the flour (saving the last half cup for kneading), salt, and olive oil (if using).
    • Stir until a shaggy dough is formed.
    • Sprinkle a little of the extra flour onto your clean work surface and turn out the dough.
    • Knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
    • Add more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or to the work surface, but try to be sparing.
    • Clean the mixing bowl and film it with a little olive oil.
    • Set the dough in the bowl, turning to coat it with the oil.
    • Cover the bowl with a clean dishcloth or plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it’s doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours.
    • Gently deflate the dough and turn it onto a lightly floured work surface.
    • Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and gently flatten into each piece into a thick disc.
    • Sprinkle the pieces with a little more flour and cover with a towel or plastic wrap until you’re ready to bake them.
    • Using a floured rolling pin, roll one of the pieces into an 8-9 inch circle about ¼-inch thick, turning and flipping the dough frequently so the dough doesn’t stick to your work surface (sprinkle the surface with more flour as needed to help with sticking).
    • Repeat with the other pieces of dough. (Once you get into a rhythm, you can be cooking one pita while rolling out the next.)

    To bake the pitas in the oven:

    • While shaping the pitas, heat the oven to 450° and place a baking stone or baking sheet in the oven to heat. 
    • Place the rolled out pitas directly on the baking stone or sheet and bake for about 3 minutes.
    • The pita should start to puff up after a minute or two and is done when fully ballooned.
    • Cover the baked pitas with a clean dishtowel while cooking any remaining pitas

    To bake pitas on the stovetop:

    • Warm a cast-iron skillet over the medium-high heat until a few beads of water sizzle immediately on contact.
    • Drizzle a little oil in the pan to coat and wipe off any excess.
    • Lay a rolled-out pita on the skillet and cook for 30 seconds, until you see bubbles starting to form.
    • Flip and cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side, until large toasted spots appear on the underside.
    • Flip again and cook another 1-2 minutes to toast the other side.
    • The pita should start to puff up during this time; if it doesn’t or if only small pockets form, try pressing the surface of the pita gently with a clean towel.
    • Keep cooked pitas covered with a clean dishtowel while cooking any remaining pitas.

    Additional Notes:
    Storing the dough: Once it has risen, the pita dough can be kept refrigerated until it is needed. You can also bake one or two pitas at a time, saving the rest of the dough in the fridge. The dough will keep refrigerated for about a week.

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