Fresh pitta breads, with their delightfully airy and fluffy pockets, are a particular treat for me.
In the UK it’s pretty easy to get your hands on some cheap, reasonable pitta breads. My early teenage self loved to toast them, stuff with ham, cheddar and chutney before nuking in the microwave until they resembled a glorious mass of melty cheese goodness. Even as an adult, I’ll still eat those for lunch (probably burning my mouth along the way). Some things never change, eh?
No such luck in Germany though. I’ve encountered one kind of pitta bread and it’s circular, dry, brittle and… well. Pretty awful. Thankfully I brought “Bread” by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter with me on this temporary jaunt to Bavaria. It’s a fabulous hardback and there’s a variety of books written on the subject by these authors.
I’ve actually been making these pitta breads for years and never had a problem or failure. I do amend the ingredients and method just slightly from the original, so you’ll find the full recipe I follow below.
Entertainingly (for me), I’ve just discovered this blog post at The Sojourn Series. Emma’s another Brit who’s spent time living in Munich – and it turns out she’s a fan of this book too! So if you’re looking for something to serve with these pittas, why not head over there and check out her recipe for Lime & Coriander Hummus. It looks delicious!
As for the pitta breads – don’t be afraid. They’re far easier than you’d imagine them to be. In fact, the only rule you’re going to absolutely need to follow is to get your oven and baking trays brilliantly hot first. It’s absolutely essential – no shortcuts! Oh, and don’t roll your dough too thinly. That’s two rules, then.
Once they’re out of the oven, make sure to rest them on a rack and under a tea towel as they cool. It’ll help keep them lovely and soft. You don’t want to go to all that effort to end up with crisp pittas, do you?
So then, what to do with them… Well, if you’re here looking at a pitta bread recipe you’ve probably already got a good idea of what you want them for! In this case, they got split open and stuffed with salad and Tikka marinated, grilled chicken. I can also confirm they’re utterly wonderful stuffed with avocado, tomato and Cajun chicken. Honestly, my love for confused sandwiches knows no bounds.
Unfortunately I couldn’t tell you how long they keep for… they’ve never lasted that long!
Based on a recipe from "Bread" by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter, these pitta breads are both tasty and reliable, with fluffy pockets and a gorgeously soft texture.
- 225 g Strong, White, Bread Flour (Germany: Type 550)
- 1 tsp Salt
- 4 g Fast Action Yeast (See Notes)
- 140 ml Lukewarm Water
- 2 tsp Olive Oil (Plus Extra for Greasing)
In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and yeast thoroughly. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm water, followed by the oil.
If using a hand whisk with dough hook attachments: start on a low setting until the dry ingredients and liquids are combined, then increase the speed and work the dough until it's soft, smooth and cleans the sides of the bowl with ease.
If making by hand: Gradually incorporate the flour from the sides of the bowl into the liquid mixture using a blunt knife. Once the liquid is more-or-less incorporated, turn the bowl out onto a clean work surface and begin to knead and bring the dough together. Once all the dry ingredients are combined, lightly oil your work surface and knead the dough for around five minutes, until it's smooth and elastic.
Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for an hour or so, until it's doubled in size.
Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently knock the dough back then divide into six equal pieces. Use a weighing scale if needed.
Shape each piece into a roughly oval ball. Allow to rest for five minutes, covered with a clean, dry tea towel.
On a floured surface, roll out each piece of dough until it's around 5mm (1/2cm) thick. Leave the rolled out dough under the tea towel again for about 30 minutes to rise, whilst the oven heats up.
Preheat the oven to 230 C and place a large baking sheet in the centre of the oven at the same time.
Once the oven and tray are hot and the dough has had time to start rising again, it's time to cook the pitta breads. Work quickly with the oven, keeping the time the door is open to a minimal.
For each batch, place two pieces of dough onto the preheated tray in the centre of the oven. Cook the pitta for 4 - 6 minutes, until they've puffed up. They don't need to brown, though a few darker spots are fine.
Cool the pitta breads on a wire rack, covered with a clean, dry tea towel. Serve whilst still warm!
Yeast: I use Allinson's Easy Bake Yeast for all my bread making. The amount used in this recipe is approximately half a 7g sachet.