After making my first ever sourdough starter, it was high time I baked some sourdough pitas! After a little tweaking here and there, I’m absolutely thrilled with the results and I hope you’ll be too.
Thick, fluffy pitas, just like the ones from back home in Cyprus. Apart from being the ideal side-kick for delicious souvlaki, they make a nice change to the ever so tedious square sandwich. Plus you could dip them! Think taramasalata, humus, guacamole... SO SO versatile.
I can safely say I’ve practiced these A LOT and by a lot I mean I’ve made 160 of them. No, it’s not that I have an insatiable craving for pitas. Neither have I gone mad (I prefer to call it ambitious!). Thing is, I’ve got my 10 month olds Christening coming up and to put it bluntly, it’s going to be a mammoth Greek family feast. We’ve got 70 people attending and I wanted to feed them homemade pitas! So why didn’t I make 70? The more pitas I made, the better they got. So, I kept making more dough and baking more pitas until I got 70 that I was truly in love with. I’ve even developed a system on how to put them in the oven for ideal shape and puffiness!
I used around 8kg of bread flour in total but I’ve adapted the recipe to make a more modest, or normal amount of pitas if you like. This recipe will yield 20 pitas (if it’s still too much simply half the ingredients for 10 pitas). Why 20? Well, firstly its sourdough. Not the most straightforward beginning to bread making if you know what I mean. Also, it’ll take 18 hours to prove so I figured you’ll want a good few if you’re going to be that patient. Last but definitely not least, they’re freezable. Ideal right? All 160 of mine are sitting in the freezer as we speak. So I thought 20 was a good amount to make it worth your while.
I hope you like the recipe!
Makes 20 pittas
Prep time: 18-20 hours
Total time: 20 hours
For the Pita Dough:
1.5kg strong bread flour
30g fine salt
50ml olive oil
800ml tepid water
60g sourdough starter
Make the dough. In a very large bowl, combine flour and salt with a whisk. Make a large well in the centre and pour in the olive oil, water and sourdough starter. Start off by mixing with a spatula or wooden spoon and when it starts coming together, use your hands to bring it into a rough dough. Tip out onto a clean surface and knead for a good 15-20 minutes until smooth and elastic. If it’s too much dough to work with, rip the dough in half and knead each half for 10 minutes before putting it back together.
Lightly oil a very large bowl and place the dough into the bowl, covering loosely with some oiled cling film. Allow to prove for 18-20 hours at cool room temperature, around 20°C. The dough should double in size.
Preheat the oven to 250°C/230°C fan and place a large baking tray on the middle shelf.
Divide the dough into 20 equal portions- I use my kitchen scales and weight out 20 portions of 120g each. Generously flour your work surface and take a piece of weighed out dough and bring it in on itself a few times before shaping into a ball. Set aside. Repeat for the rest of the dough. The dough balls need 15 minutes to rest so start off with the first ball you shaped when you begin to roll out the pitas.
Keeping your surface well floured at all times, take a dough ball and flatten into a disc with your hand. Using a floured rolling pin, starting from the middle and working your way outwards, roll the dough into a wide oval shape, flipping the dough as you go. You’re looking for a 3-4mm thickness. Roll up your sleeves and place the rolled out dough onto your forearm (this will enable you to carry the pita to the oven whilst giving it the perfect oval shape!). Quickly open the oven door, pull the piping hot tray out with an oven glove, take the oven glove off and place the pitas onto the baking tray. Quickly put the oven glove back on, push the tray back in and close the door. You want to do this as fast as you can (so the oven doesn’t lose too much heat) without burning of course! Now bake for precisely 4 minutes. I put two pitas in at a time but feel free to put three if your baking tray is big enough. In the final minute or so you’ll notice the pitas puff up beautifully! When it’s time to remove them, put your oven glove back on, pull the tray out and using your other hand, quickly remove the hot pitas from the oven (grab them from their edges NOT from the puffed up bit-be careful you don’t burn your hands!) and throw them onto a laid out tea towel. Repeat this process until you’ve baked them all.
Go you! Enjoy x