How to Make Whole Wheat Pita Breads
Homemade whole wheat pita breads taste better than any store bought variety you'll ever buy, but contain none of the mold inhibitors or bleached flours. I didn't believe this was possible until I made them for myself. Now my kids ask for them every week! Here is the recipe I'm using, modified from a white flour pita recipe.
Makes 8 pitas
3 cups whole wheat flour (freshly ground works best)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 packet yeast (or, if from bulk, 2 teaspoons yeast)
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups water, roughly at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
1) Bury the salt under the flour. Spread the yeast over the top. Add the olive oil and water and stir together.
Mix until the dough forms a ball. Add a little water of flour if necessary to form a nice ball. That's why I have the extra 1/4 cup water option, I find that variations in whole wheat may need more water.
2) Knead the dough on a flat surface approximately 10 minutes (or until your hands get tired).
If you are using an electric mixer, mix it at low speed for 10 minutes.
3) Rise: When you are done kneading the dough, place it in a bowl that has been lightly coated with oil. I use olive spray oil, but you can also just pour a teaspoon of oil into the bowl and rub it around with your fingers. Form a ball out of the dough and place it into the bowl, rolling the ball of dough around in the bowl so that it has a light coat of oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and set aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes in the winter, 60 minutes in the summer.
4) Punch down the dough: When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release some of the trapped gases and divide it into 8 equal pieces.
5) Roll each piece into a ball, cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel. Let them rest for about 20 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so that it'll be easier to shape.
6) Preheat: While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you have a baking stone or tiles, put in the oven to preheat now. If you do not have a baking stone, use and upside down cookie sheet and place it on the middle rack of the oven while you are preheating the oven. This will be the surface on which you bake your pitas.
7) Flatten: After the 20 minutes relax time for the dough, spread a light coating of flour on a work surface and place one of the balls of dough there. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough and use a rolling pin (I oil my rolling pin) to stretch and flatten the dough. Flipping the forming pita makes it easier to roll thin.
You should be able to roll it out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. If the dough does not stretch sufficiently you can cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.
8) Bake: The fun part!!! Open the oven and place as many pitas as you can fit on the hot baking surface. They should be baked through and puffy after 4 minutes. If you want crispier pitas, bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes.
The attached picture is what they poof like when baking. They will flatten back out once cooled!
Substitutions: You can sub in one to 1/2 cup of unbleached bread flour (King Arthur makes organic unbleached flour) for fluffier pitas, but try them whole wheat first. When I make pitas for a group, I usually make them with a 1/2 cup white so people don't think their some kind of health food!
Enjoy your pitas toasted with butter and jam, toasted with peanut butter, dipped in your favorite hummus or yogurt, or just fresh out of the oven with nothing!