The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pita help

JMonkey's picture

Pita help

Help! I made pita bread yesterday by converting Peter Reinhart's lavash cracker recipe in the BBA to whole wheat (he says in the side notes that the dough works well for pitas). So, as usual, I added about 13 points to the hydration (which put it at about 65%) and went from there. The dough felt fine. Reinhart writes that the dough should be just a little softer than bagel dough, and I make whole wheat bagels at 62% or 63%, so I don't think hydration is the problem.

As instructed, I divided the dough into 6 ounce portions and rolled them out. I may have rolled them out too thin. Reinhart writes that they should be just less than 1/4 inch thick, and mine were more like 1/8 inch. Anyway, as he recommended, I baked them at 500 on a preheated stone.

The problem? Only one of my four pitas fuly inflated. The others had big bubbles, but they never blew up like a balloon.

They taste fine, but I'm wondering if it might be that I'm working with a convection oven? I'm new to the convection thing and, while I'm really enjoying my new oven (electric holds moisture MUCH better than a gas oven), I'm still working out the kinks. Did they bake too fast for the pocket to form? Should I try 475 or even 450 next time?


zainaba22's picture

 Hi JMonkey,

*For pita bread you need to use soft dough.(not too dry or too wet).

*For oven temperature try 550 ( They should be puffy after 1 minute).

*Do not Roll your pita less than 1/4 inch thick,you will end up with dry pita.

my recipe for pita bread: (I will post this recipe in my blog soon )

Pita Bread

1 Tablespoon yeast.

1 Tablespoon honey.

2 1\2 cup warm water.

3 cups white flour.

1 1\2 cups whole wheat flour.

2 teaspoon salt.

2 Tablespoons olive oil.

1)Combine yeast,honey and 1\2 cup water in bowl,cover,stand in warm place about 10 minutes or until mixture is frothy.

2)place all ingredients + yeast mixture in the bowl of mixer ,beat 10 minutes to make a soft dough.

3)cover,let rise in warm place until doubled in size ,about 1 hour.

4)Divide dough into 12 pieces. Roll each to a 16 cm round.

5)preheat the oven to 550 degrees.

6)Bake for 1 minute per side.

7)Open the oven and place the flat Bread on the hot baking surface. They should be puffy after 1 minute.

 try :flat Bread, zainab's flat bread, arabic flat bread


JMonkey's picture

Thanks, Zainaba. Next time, I'll make the dough wetter (probably 75% hydration) and roll it out a bit thicker. My oven only goes to 500 degrees, alas, but I think the convection more than makes up for it. I made one of the best pizzas I've ever made last week -- a much better crust than I ever got with my former gas oven, which would crank up to 550.

zolablue's picture

I'm going to add this recipe to my pita recipe stash.  They look beautiful and I bet they're darn fun to make.  I got some recipes from BZ but have not tried making them yet.

JMonkey, I am very interested in your experiences baking with gas vs. electric.  I had read early on in another forum that gas was the preferred method of baking bread.   But when I started trying loaves in my gas oven I noticed some very strange happenings including odd color changes in the crust.  When I baked in my electric oven I got more oven spring, much better crusts and crumb, not to mention color.  But being so new to bread baking I had no idea why that could be as it went against what I had been told about gas being superior.  One of these days I'm going to do a side-by-side comparison bake and take photos to show what I'm talking about.  Glad to know it wasn't just me.  Still it is perplexing.  (I love having the gas oven too though as it makes THE most incredible roast chickens ever!)

mse1152's picture


Welcome to the left coast!  I made Floyd's recipe for pita 3 times before I got them all to puff up.  I don't know offhand what the hydration is, since the recipe is in cups vs. weight.

I started the oven at 450F instead of 400, as called for in the recipe, and let it heat for about 30 minutes before starting to bake.  I figured so much heat is lost each time you open the door to switch batches, I would crank it up to see if it helped.

Of course, everyone's oven is just different enough to make you nuts, but I found a higher temperature made it work for me.  All the pitas had puffed fully after about 2 minutes, and I left them in the oven for another 2 after that.

I would guess that using all whole wheat flour would affect the ease of puffedness, but I assume you adjusted the water amount to make a soft enough dough.  I agree about electric ovens.  Yay!


JMonkey's picture

It's good to be here. So far, I'm enjoying it quite a bit! I think next time around, I'll try a somewhat softer dough, and see if that helps them puff up.

bluezebra's picture

settled! How do you like it? I envy you!

Here is a link to two pita recipes I posted at Zolablue's request. One is a sourdough version and the other is a traditional yeast method. They both work great and all of them puff up. I kinda think it has to do with oven temps as well. How long you cook them determines how dry/hard they will be in the end. I also put mine directly into a ziplock bag to steam after cooking.

Hope this helps and let me know if you end up making them! Good luck!

JMonkey's picture

Thanks! We're still unpacking boxes, but, for the most part, it's feeling like home.

I'd LOVE to see the sourdough recipe ... but the link doesn't look like it took. Might you be able to repost it? Thanks!

bluezebra's picture


Hi ZB I didn't want to threadjack on the firm starter thread. Here are the two recipes I use. I love the sourdough one the most but sometimes I get hungry for pitas and I don't plan far enough ahead, so I just make regular yeasted ones.

I found this sourdough recipe at Randy's Vegetarian Cookbook . I haven't looked at the rest of this site but I like this recipe quite alot. It only makes a small amount so I make 12 at a time. It is convenient though because you can try only making 3 or 6.

Sourdough Pita Bread
By Randy - Randy's Vegetarian Cookbook
Yields 3 - 7" pita breads

1/2 cup sourdough starter
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup additional flour (approximately)

Makes 3-4 Pitas

Mix sourdough starter with next four ingredients, mixing/kneading well. Cover and let rise until doubled.

Add additional flour. Knead well. Divide dough into three equal parts. Form each into a smooth round ball. Let balls rest, covered for 10 minutes. Roll each ball to 1/2 inch thickness. Place on nonstick baking sheets and let rise.

Preheat oven to 475°F. The high temperature helps the pockets form. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until puffed up and just starting to turn light brown.

Blue Zebra NOTE: I cooked these at 500 degrees for only about 3-4 minutes. I like mine moister than most. Ten minutes as the recipe states will most likely be wayyyyy too long! Also I think the amount of starter used is ok because it's a very short rise/ferment time. It doesn't seem to interfere with the gluten structure in this recipe.


Blue Zebra’s Pita Bread
Adapted From the Garvick’s Recipe at
Yield 12 Pita Breads

2 1/2 c  Warm water
2 tsp Honey or 1 tsp Sugar
3 1/2 t  Active dry yeast
1-1/2 Tbsp Salt
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 c  Whole Wheat Flour
5 c All Purpose Flour
Place ¼ c. of warm water and honey in large bowl and stir to dissolve honey. Add yeast and stir to combine. Let yeast proof for 10 minutes until  bubbly.

In separate bowl, mix salt and flours. Add yeast mixture and 1-3/4 c. of the remaining water to the flour and mix until well incorporated. Allow it autolyze for 30 minutes. Add oil and adjust water as necessary to make a moist dough but one that holds together well.
Knead well for 5 minutes. Place a little vegetable oil on palms
of hands and smooth all over to prevent crusting. Allow dough to double. This may take 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 500 F. Divide dough in 12 balls. Let dough balls rest, covered, 10 minutes prior to rolling. Roll each ball out to about 7-8” diameter and 1/8” thickness. Let rest covered for 20 minutes on lightly floured table or counter top or until almost doubled in thickness. Bake on pizza stone covered with parchment 3-5 minutes or until puffed and just starting to brown. Remove from oven and immediately place in zip lock bag in order to keep pitas soft and moist from the steam inside the bag.

Blue Zebra NOTE: I use the food processor to bring the dough together. Then I knead it by hand for about 8 minutes. Then oil and place in bowl to rise till double. I use the 3-1/2 tsp of yeast because it makes it rise quickly. The whole wheat flour adds nice flavor and it doesn't taste like eating pure yeast! These cooked pitas may be kept in fridge for several days but to retain the most freshness, freeze immediately. You can also freeze the dough for later after the bulk rise.


Hope you like these ZB. I just made some of the second recipe night before last on the fly because I was hankerin' for schwarma! So I make the Tziki (sp?) while I was waiting on the dough to rise. Let me know how these work for you! :D


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

This happens to me with my pizza and I know why.  It's step 4 above:

     4)Divide dough into 12 pieces. Roll each to a 16 cm round.

Between dividing the dough into pieces and rolling them out is the trick.   Once cut into pieces, form each piece into a smooth round ball to rise 5 to 10 minutes.  Roll out in the same order that you shaped them so the timing is evenly spaced.  When rolling out don't quite roll to the edges keeping edges rounded and not squished.  This should help. 

Mini Oven