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not a pita

Recipe: sourdough pita bread

It’s already February and I can’t help but feel a slight panic that winter is nearly over. Technically we’re only halfway through it, and snow season for us can last into June or July if we’re lucky. This season Jeremy and I made a pact that we would stop being powder jerks and make a point to regularly ski groomers, uphill, Nordic, backcountry – anything active with more focus on cardio. It’s been great, and when we hit those high pressure systems that leave us with more ice than snow, we grab some miles on the treadmill or indoor bike trainer.

when there isn’t snow, these two happily fetch/chase

We celebrated Chinese New Year quietly at home with traditional dishes. I kept it simple and allowed myself a few shortcuts (frozen dumplings and bao) for sanity’s sake as we were packing up to head to Crested Butte.

symbolic foods for good luck, fortune, health, and happiness

sweet red bean bao in the morning

a nice view of mount crested butte

week old powder holds up nicely around here

diffuse light and long shadows

This past Saturday, Yuki turned two years old. It’s hard for me to think of her as anything other than a puppy because she is such a baby. We celebrated with goodie plates: raw beef, beef meatballs, bacon, Parmesan crisp, unsweetened whipped cream, and their usual homemade dog treats decorated with sugar icing and naturally colored sprinkles. It’s been such a joy to watch Yuki learn, grow, and become more confident while maintaining her playful, silly personality. We love her so very much.

our birthday girl

monster candles seemed appropriate

pawty time!

the pups burn those calories and then some

skate ski in 3°f

The night before, our low temperature dropped to -27.3°F and the high for the day never cleared 4°F. I don’t know about you, but that kind of cold is a great excuse to bake and run a hot oven. A couple of years ago, shortly after I had received my sourdough starter, I split some off to give to my friend, Amanda. We were both new to the sourdough game and stood around discussing different foods you could make with sourdough starter. She mentioned homemade pita bread and told me there is no going back once you’ve eaten fresh baked pita. Amanda assured me it was easy to make, so I figured there must be a sourdough version.

sourdough levain, bread flour, whole wheat flour, sea salt, water, olive oil

The sourdough levain should be fed at 100% hydration. If you’re new to sourdough, the 100% hydration means the starter was fed with equal WEIGHT (not volume) water and flour. The wild yeast in the starter needs to have enough time (usually 8-12 hours at room temperature) to digest the new food and produce carbon dioxide bubbles. When the levain is ready, all of the ingredients get mixed together. You can knead the dough by hand or with the dough hook of a stand mixer.

the bubbles indicate the levain is ready

combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl

i used a dough hook to knead the dough

The dough will feel smooth and elastic after 4-5 minutes in the stand mixer or 8-10 minutes of kneading by hand. Place it in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest until doubled in size. This can be anywhere from 2 hours in a very warm room to 24 hours in a very cool room (64-68°F). I let mine go for 24 hours because our house is always cold in non-summer months.

let the dough rest in a covered greased bowl

doubled in size

When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut the dough into eighths with a knife or a pastry cutter, then shape each piece into a smooth ball. I do this by pulling all of the corners down to meet at the bottom, then I stroke the dough ball from the center top, down the side, and around to the center of the bottom, gently pulling the dough smooth. I repeat this around the circumference of the dough ball until it is smooth and spherical.

cut the dough into eighths

pull the corners of each piece down to the center of the bottom

shape each piece into a smooth ball of dough

cover and let rest for 10 minutes

After resting the dough balls, flatten each one and roll it out to a disc that is 1/4-inch thick. Let the discs rest a few minutes before rolling them (from the center to the edges) into thin, 7-inch diameter circles. At this point, the dough circles are ready for the hot oven. I like using my baking stone for pita because I have a fear of chucking the dough onto the oven rack incorrectly and having it fall through the grate and sticking to the oven floor (I have done EXACTLY this when trying to grill pizza). But I have seen folks bake pita successfully directly on their oven rack, so do what works for you. The pita should puff up and bake in 3-4 minutes.

pat the dough balls down

roll them from the center out

set the dough on a baking stone or the oven rack

watch them rise and bake

freshly baked pita

the airy pocket

Considering the total hands-on time with the pita bread, this isn’t a terribly demanding recipe. I mean, I love my sourdough bread, but it can be a pain in the ass (PITA) whereas making pita isn’t! These are best fresh from the oven, but hold up just fine stored in an airtight container and warmed in the oven. You can freeze them, too, although I haven’t tried it myself.

a basket of puffy pita

stuffed with hummus, cucumber, roasted eggplant, and roasted red peppers

Sourdough Pita Bread
[print recipe]
based on recipes from Weekend Bakery and Wild Yeast

255g (1 cup) sourdough levain*, 100% hydration
225g bread flour
25g whole wheat flour
115g water, room temperature
7.5g sea salt
14g olive oil

*I make the levain the night before (or 8-12 hours before) by mixing 35g of sourdough starter with 125g of room temperature purified water and 125g bread flour together in a clean jar until there are no dry pockets of flour left. Cover the container and let sit at room temperature until the levain is filled with bubbles. This should give you 255g of levain and 30g of remaining starter to feed for later uses.

Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix with a dough hook on low speed until it comes together in a shaggy dough. Continue to knead with the dough hook for 4-5 minutes on medium-low speed until the dough is smooth and tacky OR turn the shaggy dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 8-10 minutes until smooth and tacky. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a lid and allow to rest for 2 hours at room temperature or up to 24 hours at a cool temperature (about 64-68°F), until the dough has doubled in size.

Place a baking stone on the center rack of your oven (if you don’t have a stone, you can bake your pita on the rack itself, but I haven’t tried it). Preheat oven to 550°F. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and cut into eight relatively equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball by tucking the edges down and toward the center of the base, continuing to stroke the edges down and to the center of the base around the entire ball until it is smooth and symmetrical. Cover the dough balls and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Pat each ball of dough into a flattened disc. Use a rolling pin to roll the disc into a 1/4-inch thick circle, rolling from the middle to the edges. Rest the dough for a few minutes. Roll the dough out again, this time rolling it thin to about a 7-inch diameter. I like to bake the first pita solo in case I mess something up. Toss the dough onto the baking stone and shut the oven door to avoid heat loss. Bake for 3-4 minutes, the pita should puff up during this time. Remove from oven. Bake the remaining dough – in batches if you prefer. Makes 8 pita.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

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9 nibbles at “not a pita”

  1. Jill Hyde says:

    Oh man I can actually smell these this morning! Just beautiful! And Happy Birthday Yuki…such a good girl! xo, jill

  2. Mary Karen Euler says:

    Nothing earth-shattering to say except that I want you to know that I am so uplifted by your communiques. And, I am coming back as your pup in my next life! :-)

  3. monica says:

    @MaryKarenEuler: No fair! That is my plan! ??

    hi yen! i am making the above recipe right now in my little austrian kitchen. the levain‘s been levainseling away since yesterday eve. am about to add the other ingredients and just noticed that you do not add any extra yeast. that‘s a bit scary, i‘ve never tried that. but, as the saying in our house goes: „yen says it‘s ok. so it will be.“
    so, here it goes… ?? have a brilliant time and lots of love from sunny austria! monica ??‍?
    ps: and – as always – thank you for sharing the awesomeness of your puppies along with your culinary wisdom. for fear of getting too mushy i deliberate left out the magnificent photography and the brilliant writing. ?

  4. monica says:

    hi yen! the pita came out perfectly! ⭐️ the dough wasn‘t too sticky (often a problem, i find), even though we don‘t have bread flour in austria and i used my plain ol‘ „universalmehl“. it took a long time for the dough to really double (old house+winter+no central heat ?? fairly cool indoor temperature), but double it did. without yeast! i never dared do that before. ??
    though not all of them puffed up (but that‘s because our oven has seen 16+ winters and 4+ moves), they tasted so so good! warm out of the oven they were absolutely scrumptious, but even 2 days later they were still nice to eat cold (filled with cheese and sprouts and chilli jam) as office lunch. ?
    thank you for this perfect recipe! ?
    any chance you might want to try your magic baking hands on some sourdough naans? i‘m asking for a friend… ?
    all the best to you and your posse! ???

  5. Lisa says:

    Happy Birthday Yuki!

  6. S says:

    We really enjoyed these. We don’t have a baking stone so we baked them one by one in a cast iron skillet that we left in the oven while preheating. All of them puffed up! They also reheated well in the microwave and stayed pliant.

  7. S says:

    I also wanted to add that we didn’t make them all at once – we refrigerated some of them after the first rollout, then rolled and baked them straight from the fridge the next day and they were just as good.

  8. jenyu says:

    Jill – Thank you!

    MK- :)

    monica – I’m so happy they turned out! I find this recipe to be particularly forgiving (which is why I like it!). I also have trouble with puffing in some of mine, I suppose it’s my rolling technique that I need to perfect ;) I bet sourdough naan isn’t too different from these! xo

    Lisa – xo

    S – Cast iron is also very handy and a good idea! And you have a better puffing record than I do :) And thanks for the note on the ones you proofed overnight, that’s always good to know xo

  9. Gramma Di says:

    I made these and they were a success. I did try leaving 2 balls in the fridge but for me that wasn’t a success. Maybe I left them too long in the fridge (2 days). I also put 2 baked ones in the freezer and that was good. I am making a second batch today and will bake them all and freeze the extra ones. I did make one small change though. My sourdough starter was whole-wheat so I used only unbleached for the actual recipe. Thank you for sharing.

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