Whole Wheat Pitas

Whole wheat pitas

If you’re anything like me, you may still be feeling the effects of those holiday indulgences that just kept adding up and up. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but it’s definitely time for a few changes for the healthier around here.

These 100% whole wheat pitas are not only 100% good for you, they also taste 100% better than the cardboard discs that somehow wind up in bags labeled “pita bread” on store shelves.

I adapted this easy recipe from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, who say that in lieu of baking, the pitas can be cooked on a stovetop griddle or skillet. I’ve not tried that, but oven baking is very easy, provided you have a baking stone. If you don’t have one, either go get one or let me know how the griddle works for you.

I’ve found that rolling the pitas very thin keeps the top and bottom layers the same thickness. If you prefer a thicker pita, fine, but I’ve found that when they puff, the bottom layer ends up thicker than the top. I don’t really care about that, but you might, and I don’t know a way around it.

And just what is it that makes pitas puff up? It’s some serious bread magic.

Slightly puffed pita Partially puffed pita Fully puffed pita

Whole Wheat Pitas

Yield: 8 pitas

Time:

  • Mix and ferment sponge: 1 hour
  • Mix final dough: 10 minutes
  • Ferment: 1.5 hours
  • Divide, rest, and roll out: 15 minutes
  • Bake: 2 – 3 minutes per batch of 1 – 3 pitas

Sponge ingredients:

  • 225 g whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat but regular is fine also)
  • 2.5 g (3/4 t.) instant yeast
  • 280 g lukewarm water

Final dough ingredients:

  • All of the sponge
  • 9 g salt (1.5 t. table salt)
  • 14 g olive oil (1.5 t.)
  • 185 g whole wheat flour
  • More water at room temperature, as needed

Method:

  1. Combine sponge ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and let rest for one hour.
  2. Stir salt and olive oil into sponge.
  3. Add the 185 g flour and mix briefly to form a shaggy mass. It’s OK if not all of the flour is incorporated at this point.
  4. Turn the dough and any loose flour out onto the counter. Knead to incorporate all of the flour. At this point the dough should be soft and tacky (not sticky). If it’s not tacky, add a bit more water. If it’s sticky, knead for a bit, then add a touch more flour if it’s still sticky.
  5. Continue kneading for 8 – 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  6. Place the dough back in its bowl. Cover and ferment 1.5 hours or until approximately doubled in volume.
  7. Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with stone, to 450F).
  8. Turn the dough out onto an unfloured counter and knead it a few times to degas it.
  9. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions and shape each into a ball. Cover with a cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
  10. On a lightly floured counter, roll each ball into a disc about 7″ in diameter. They will be very thin. You can roll the first two or three, and then more as the first batch is baking.
  11. Using a peel lightly sprinkled with semolina, transfer two or three pitas to the baking stone. (If you don’t have a peel, place the pitas on parchment paper and slide the parchment paper onto the stone.) Bake for 2 –3 minutes, until fully puffed. Don’t overbake or the pitas will be dry. (If a few don’t puff, they’ll still be delicious.)
  12. Repeat with the remaining pitas. As they come out of the oven, wrap them in a towel to keep them warm.

These are best eaten as soon as possible after baking. I like a pocket sandwich with lightly (not deep) fried falafel and assorted vegetables. I feel better already.

Falafel sandwich with whole wheat pita

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    i haven’t cooked my pitas in a griddle, but I want to say, since there are probably others like me who haven’t got around to purchasing a stone, I place a cookie sheet upside down in the oven when I’m preheating, and then use it in place of a stone. I’m sure a stone works better, but this solution has been working quite well for me. The pitas puff up quite nicely.

  2. says

    I can see where the www might work well in these and I’m delighted to know it does. Next time I do this one I’ll try to remember that. Um maybe I should just go mark it in the book now! Thanks Susan.

  3. says

    YUM! these look just awesome — i am such a dope, but until recently i actually thought that flatbreads didn’t have any yeast at all. i have since learned my lesson! :-) the falafel looks delicious as well!

  4. Dave says

    Those look great! I usually have some sort of pita lunch three or four times a week. Mine are about 50/50 bread & ww flour.

    I’ve been making my pitas on the stovetop since I saw Alford on “Baking With Julia” in the ’80s I think. It gives you a much moister pita with nice browning on both sides. I use a 14″ Lodge griddle heated to about 550 (IR thermometer). It takes about three minutes, so making three or four at a time takes a bit longer, but I prefer the results. Also, being a bit moister, they freeze really well and can be popped in the toaster, but you have to watch them or they will puff too much to get out.

    Thanks for all your work on this blog! I love stopping in.

    Dave

  5. says

    k., great idea, thanks! The important thing is that the pitas are placed onto a preheated surface.

    Tanna, I’ve made them with both white and regular ww but I think I have a slight preference for the white.

    Katy, some flatbreads don’t have yeast but many do. The falafel was (were?) pretty good but I have trouble making falafel that doesn’t want to fall apart when cooked (suggestions appreciated).

    Dave, you sold me — I’m doing stovetop next time. Thanks!

  6. says

    I’ve just discovered your blog and I really like it. I love wholewheat pitas and I’ll be trying your recipe soon. I don’t have a baking stone but I do have a cast iron skillet so I’ll let you know how it works out.

  7. Sarah says

    I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months now. Finding your site coincided with the birth of my sourdough starter, who I’ve named Norton. I love reading about your bread baking adventures.
    I’m really excited about trying this because I’ve completely stopped buying commercial pita bread because it is so disappointingly cardboardy. Instead of using a baking stone, I have tiled the center rack of my oven with unglazed ceramic tile (about 4 dollars at Home Depot).
    If you use the griddle do you grease it at all? My husband tried making Naan Bread on the griddle, and it burnt before it was done. Our house reeked like burnt vegetable oil for three days!

  8. says

    Helen, welcome!

    Bev, I love them too. I don’t make them enough.

    Sarah, the unglazed ceramic tile is a fine standin for a baking stone. The book says to lightly grease the griddle. I have a nonstick griddle so I might try it without.

  9. says

    We’ve cooked pitas on the barbecue, on a stone AND on the stovetop. They’re just as good each time. We use our tava – but I’m pretty sure that a cast iron pan would work as well. Note that the pan is NOT oiled.

    I’ve not tried making pita with 100% whole wheat flour though. I bet they’re great that way! (I usually use about half 100%whole wheat and half all-purpose) The last time I made pita (a couple of days ago) I threw in the leftover sludge from feeding my wild yeast starter (didn’t make any changes to the recipe otherwise).

    -Elizabeth

    P.S. In case you’d like to see photos of making pita on the stovetop, in February 2006, I posted about it:
    http://etherwork.net/blog/?p=195

  10. says

    Mmmm…I just saw a recipe for these in the back of Saveur and they were on my list. We’re getting ready for a Mediterranean dinner for a couple of friends and I have to make these. That last photo is droolworthy!

  11. says

    Elizabeth — the barbecue, great idea, I’m going to have to try that too.

    Kellypea, I hope your dinner is magnificent. I’m always up for Mediterranean food!

  12. says

    I guess our naans are somewhat like this (but with all-purpose flour). I like pita bread and this wholewheat one appeals. Shall try this one out.

  13. says

    Helen, thanks for the tag! I enjoyed reading your meme.

    Aparna, I’m not sure what the difference is between naan and pita, they do seem very similar to me.

  14. says

    I own a small cooking school in Bermuda. My partner and I teach a lot of different ethnic cuisines and our Morrocan/Tunisian classes are extremely popular.

    One of the recipes we teach in this class is the making of pita bread. As most “cook” do not own a stone I tell them to use a baking sheet that should be preheated to at least 450ºF. It works very well. Students are always amazed at how easy and delicious pita bread is.

    Congratulations on your website it is very inspiring.

  15. Helen says

    I had my first pita-baking venture yesterday with this recipe and it was fantastic – now I have a stack of them in the freezer for toasting. I dont eat white flour and I was fed up of only finding 70% WW pitas in the stores here in Germany. Now I’ll never eat store-bought pita again! Thanks for a great recipe :-)

  16. Crystal says

    I really haven’t been able to get a taste for pita bread because the only place I’ve found it is the grocery store, and it’s been awful! So hard and tough and shouldn’t be labeled FOOD! I am going to take your word for these and try them again because I’ve got awesome reviews for this recipe.. So thanks!

    -Crystal
    Propane Burners

  17. Ted says

    I have been making these a lot lately> They are great but last night in particular was slightly frustrating none of them really puffed up. Is there something that I may have done wrong? What can be the causes?

  18. Stephanie says

    These are the best! I make them at least twice per month. Thank you! As a note, I cook mine in the plan and they puff nicely. I do them simultaneously with the falafel (which are in another pan) and when the falafel are finished I cook the last two pitas in the oil. Those are the best!

  19. Joe Rydant says

    Baking the Pita breads at 400 degrees on a wire cake rack set right on the oven rack for 4 minutes will brown both sides and the pocket will be the same thickness on each side. This for a 6 inch pita.

  20. Mallika says

    Hi! I have a question here… I wanted to know if it is possible to make pita breads from sourdough? Did you ever try it? please let me know! thanks!

  21. Amanda says

    Thanks for a great recipe. These turned out wonderfully. I love that you used weights, makes baking so much easier!

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  1. [...] Whole Wheat Pitas Wild Yeast Posted by root 1 day 41 minutes ago (http://www.wildyeastblog.com) Post a comment 19 comments k on january 19 2008 at 10 04 am i haven 39 t cooked my pitas in a griddle but i want to say since there are probably others i don 39 t have a baking stone but i do have a cast iron skillet so i 39 ll let you know how it works o Discuss  |  Bury |  News | whole wheat pitas wild yeast [...]

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