I’m still a novice when it comes to yeast breads, but this week I had a small victory. My pita bread puffed up into pita pockets!
Cast Iron Skillet Pita Pockets
I’ve made pita before, but in the past it ‘s always been the flat type with air bubbles here and there, or more like naan. It tasted okay, but I wasn’t getting a pocket and couldn’t figure out why. This week I tried a couple of new recipes and started combining techniques. It seems the key to getting dough to puff is a 500 degree oven and a fiery hot cast iron skillet.
Here’s the recipe. You can use a pizza stone or a cast iron skillet. The drawback to a cast iron skillet is that you have to cook the pitas one at a time, but each one takes only about 3 minutes, so it’s no big deal.
Update: I don’t know if anyone is using this recipe but me, but for anyone interested I’ve come up with a new method for baking the pitas and have revised the directions slightly. In short, you bake the pita dough on pieces of parchment.
- 1 1/4 cups warm water 110 degrees to 115 degrees F
- 1 packet active dry yeast instant yeast okay too, see note
- 2 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (380 grams)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or as needed for the bowl
- Put the water in bowl of a stand mixer. Add yeast and stir to dissolve. Add sugar, salt and flour. Stir well. Dough should be a little sticky. Using dough hook, knead for about 5 minutes or until you have a smooth and elastic dough. After kneading, it will be smooth and elastic and a tiny bit slippery.
- Rub a second bowl with the olive oil, transfer dough to oily bowl, roll dough around in the bowl to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (an hour).
- Punch down dough and shape dough into 6 rounds (mine were more like gobs, but not ridiculously sticky). Set the rounds on a parchment lined cookie sheet to rest for about 15 minutes.
- Alternatively, set each round on a small square of parchment paper (about 6 inches). If using this method, you may be able to skip any extra flour and just rely on the oiliness of the dough.
- Meanwhile, put a cast-iron skillet in the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. While oven preheats, (and after dough has rested) take one of the dough gobs, and shape it into about a 5 inch round (Try for an even thickness) on a surface lightly coated with flour. Use just enough flour to keep it from sticking.
- If using the alternate method with individual pieces of parchment, take one of your dough rounds that you’ve set on a piece of parchment, press it into a 5 inch round right on the parchment, then lift the parchment and flip the pressed dough piece right down onto the hot skillet. Put the skillet with the dough, parchment still sticking to the top, right in the oven and set timer for 5 minutes. After 3 minutes, very carefully pull the parchment off the cooked pita, flip it and cook for another 2 minutes.
- With a couple of hot pads, carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and set on another hot pad. Transfer the dough round to the hot skillet trying your best to keep it in its 5 inch (ish) circle.
- Quickly put the skillet back in the oven and cook for 3-5 minutes. My pitas took 3 minutes. Repeat with remaining 5 pitas. Makes 6 pitas.