Sunday, March 7, 2010

Homemade Whole Wheat Pitas

I'm really excited to post about this, because I strayed from the directions a bit, and it totally rocked. I didn't want to stop eating these pitas.

These pitas are very similar to the pizza post I made last week, and based on my pita discovery, I'll probably be changing my pizza dough recipe to be more like my pitas.

Here's why I'm so excited: I made the pitas entirely with soaked dough and sourdough. That's right, no commercial yeast involved, just my wild yeast culture, which I like to refer to as my "Mankato Culture"--since I made it while living in Mankato! I basically followed the same recipe, but left out the commercial yeast, and it turned out great!

The process is much the same as the pizza dough. There are three parts: the soaker, the sourdough starter, and the final dough. And the amounts are slightly different, but the ingredients are the same.

For ease of use, I'll re-list all my instructions for the soaker and sourdough starter again. This is my adaptation of the pita recipe in "Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads".

Homemade Whole Wheat Pitas
Makes 6-8 pita rounds, depending on how big you want them
Three parts: Soaker, Sourdough, Final Dough

Part One: Soaker
1. Make the Soaker 12-24 hours before you want to use it. Mix the following ingredients in a bowl for about one minute, until the flour is hydrated and the ingredients form a ball:
  • 1 3/4 c. whole wheat flour, preferably fine grind
  • 3/4 c. kefir (or a mixture of water and lemon juice, whey, or yogurt... be creative. I used kefir because that's what I had)
2. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature 12-24 hours. If want to have it ready by the next afternoon, I'll usually mix it up in the early evening.

Part Two: Sourdough Starter
  • 5 T. wild yeast starter (aka sourdough)
  • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. + 2 T. water
1. Mix these ingredients to form a ball of dough. Using wet hands, knead dough for about two minutes in the bowl. The dough should feel very tacky. Let dough rest five minutes, then knead again with wet hands for one minute. The dough will be smoother, but still tacky.
2. Place starter dough in oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap, leaving at room temp. for 4-8 hours, until doubled in size. When I made these pitas, I mixed up both the soaker and sourdough starter in the evening, set them on the counter, and let them go overnight.
3. When the starter has developed (about doubled in size), knead it for a few seconds to degas it. I use it immediately, but you could refrigerate it at this point to use at a later date, within 3-4 days. If you do put in fridge, make sure you take it out two hours before you use it to take off the chill.

Part Three: Final Dough
1. Since I wanted these for lunch, I started mixing the final dough around 8:30 or 9 a.m. Cut the sourdough and soaker together. In the book, it says to cut it up into 12 pieces, sprinkle with flour so they don't stick together, and mix together. What I do is stack them on top of each other and cut with a kitchen scissors, and then sprinkle these ingredients on top:
  • 3/4 c. + 2 T. whole wheat flour (I used sprouted flour)
  • 1 1/8 t. sea salt
  • 1 T. coconut oil, melted
2. Knead these all together for about 2 minutes, until all ingredients are mixed evenly. Dough sould be soft and slightly sticky, if not add more flour/water.
2. Knead for an additional 1 minute, so dough feels supple but tacky. Form into ball and let rest on counter for 5 minutes. In the mean time, prepare an oiled bowl
3. Knead for another minute to strengthen the gluten, then place in bowl loosely covered with plastic wrap, and let rise 45-60 minutes.
4. Transfer to lightly floured surface and divide into 6-8 balls. Place on pan covered with parchment paper to rise another 45-60 minutes, or until 1 1/2 times their original size.
5. In the meantime, you should have your baking stone preheating in the oven for an hour before you actually want to bake your pitas. Heat the oven as high as it can go (mine is 500 degrees).
6. Roll out ea. ball into a flat disk 4-5 in. in diameter. Dust disks with flour and return to pan, stacking if necessary. Cover with cloth towel or plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes.
7. Go back to your disks, and starting from the center, roll out to the edges until they're about 1/4 inch thick. (The book says not to roll them any thinner... but I think I may be so bold as to roll them thinner next time. Although I did enjoy the full thickness of the resulting pita.) Dust disks with flour again and move to flat surface to rest, covered and undisturbed for 15 minutes.
8. Transfer pitas on to parchment paper, and then transfer on to stone using a flat baking sheet. I did four at a time because that's what would fit on my stone. It should take 2 minutes to begin puffing. After it puffs up, give it 20 seconds to finish baking then transfer to cooling rack. You don't want to let it cook too much longer, otherwise the top will get hard.

And that is how I make pitas. I hope to make some more this week!

The edges are a little jagged... I used a pizza cutter, and it didn't work as well as I'd envisioned...


  1. Hi! I just stumbled upon your blog while looking on Google for a recipe for sourdough pitas! I think I will be trying yours tomorrow :) Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Awesome, Jenna, I hope you have success!