I never cared much for pita until I had a taste of the stuff produced in the wood ovens of Shaya, a much buzzed-about Israeli restaurant in New Orleans. Where most grocery store pita bread is dry and sandpaper-y, the rounds at Shaya are pillowy and have a good chew to them. I easily ate five all by myself and left the restaurant determined to figure out how to make my own. Over the following months, I had several fairly successful pita-making runs with the NYTimes recipe, but felt that there was room for improvement – I found the dough a bit soft and sticky and had trouble rolling it into even rounds and transferring it to the oven. That said, the pita did have great texture and a moist crumb, making me hesitant to toy around with adding more flour.
After all of this lead-up, I was super excited to have the opportunity to spend Monday morning making pita in a class led by Richard Miscovich, a renowned artisan bread baker. While I doubt I will ever again replicate the degree of precision I was encouraged to strive for in Chef Miscovich’s classroom (we used an equation to determine the ideal temperature of the water added to the dough that involved taking into account the amount of heat generated by the mixer…), I left with a great recipe that we will definitely make again at home.
- 350g bread flour
- 350g whole wheat flour
- 2.1 g instant rise yeast
- 12 g salt
- 476g water
- Mix the flour and water together in a bowl, cover and set aside for 20 min (this allows the flour to hydrate).
- Add the salt and yeast and mix until combined. If kneading by hand, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for ~5 minutes; if kneading with a mixer and dough hook, turn up the speed to medium for ~3 minutes.
- Transfer dough to a container lightly coated with some sort of non-stick or oil spray, cover, and let rest for 45 min.
- Turn out the dough onto a work surface and press into a large square/rectangle (aim for roughly 12in x 12in). Fold the dough as if you were making an envelope from a blank piece of paper (lift the left side of the square and pull it over the remaining square until it covers 2/3, then fold the right side of the dough over your first fold). Rotate the folded dough rectangle 90 degrees and fold again, following the same procedure. Return the folded dough to the container to proof for another 45 min.
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and separate the dough into 12 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball, set aside, cover, and let rest for 20-30 minutes.
- Roll each ball of dough into a circle about 1/8″ thick (note – if the dough seems to resist rolling, springing back after each pass, simply let it rest a bit longer). Cover, let rest 10-20 minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 500°F with a ceramic baking tile or inverted sheet pan inside.
- Transfer dough rounds to the baking tile or sheet pan, bake for 3-4 minutes.
- Either enjoy pita hot, or allow pita to cool completely before storing. If storing, make sure your container is air-tight – pita has the potential to dry out quickly.