Confession: I am a tiny bit afraid of making homemade bread.
I grew up watching my master-bread-baker of a grandma whip up batch after batch of perfect rye loaves. She made it look easy and I helped her often without any catastrophes.
But I still panic a little inside when I see a recipe that involves yeast. I don’t know why. It just seems so much more fussy and labor-intensive than any other recipe. Cupcakes? No problem. But homemade bread? It scares me. I’ve heard so many horror stories from others about dough that won’t rise and loaves that come out flat for no apparent reason, and they’ve instilled a fear in me.
I’ll bake pretty much anything under the sun, but I’ve avoided recipes including yeast for most of my adult life.
But I wanted to make gyros. I really like gyros, but the experience can be totally sabotaged by store-bought pita bread. Have you had the stuff? Maybe your grocery store has a better selection than mine, but the last time I bought pitas around here, they resembled cardboard in every way. Not super appetizing.
So I had no choice but to conquer my biggest kitchen fear.
I made my own pita bread!
Not only did I throw caution to the wind to make a recipe involving yeast, I also decided to healthify my pitas by making them whole wheat. Go big or go home, right?
Believe it or not, it really wasn’t that hard! More time-consuming than running over to Cub Foods, yes, certainly. But not painstakingly difficult at all. A few of my pitas did get a little on the crispy side because I was unnecessarily freaking out about raw dough, but overall, I’d call my first attempt a success.
The final product was a warm, soft, pita that provided the perfect basket for gyro meat and all the fixings. Thin and slightly sweet, they disappeared pretty quickly in my house, and I found all kinds of uses for the leftovers. I can’t believe I was so afraid of them before!
You do need to plan ahead a bit and allow time for the dough to rise for an hour, so keep that in mind.
After your dough has risen for an hour, you just roll it out and pop them in the oven! Your circles don’t necessarily have to be perfect–something I clearly demonstrated. The baked pitas might not be perfect either (Mine certainly weren’t!), but no matter what, they’ll be a huge step up from the typical store-bought stuff!
The only other advice I have is to grease your pans well. The original recipe, which I adapted from Heavenly Homemakers, recommended using a pizza stone (which doesn’t require greasing), but I learned the hard way that a light spritz of Pam doesn’t cut it when using a regular cookie sheet. I practically had to pry my first batch of pitas off with a metal spatula! Definitely and thoroughly grease your baking pans (if you use them), and you will have a much easier time removing the baked pitas. It’s no problem when you’ve greased them ahead of time!
If you’re in the same boat as I was and have been avoiding bread recipes, start out with an easier recipe like this one and see how it goes. It’s less complicated than you might think! I still have a few yeast-filled recipes to master, but these pitas were a good starting point.
Who knows? Maybe one of these days I’ll go really crazy and bake up some homemade rolls or rye bread without my grandma’s expert assistance. I’ll keep ya posted.
For now, I’m pretty pleased with these. And they taste even better when they’re stuffed with fillings, like my favorite recipe for gyro meat that I plan on sharing later this week. Be sure to check back!
And if you’re irrationally afraid of baking with yeast like I was, give it a shot. You might surprise yourself!
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. yeast
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup warm water
- Sprinkle flour over a large, flat surface.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast and salt. Add honey, oil and water, stirring until you get a dough-like consistency. Rub flour on your hands and knead the dough on the floured surface for about 5 minutes.
- Return dough to bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise for about 1 hour. The dough may not raise a lot, but this is normal.
- THOROUGHLY grease 2 cookie sheets.
- Knead dough again for another 30 seconds.
- Slice dough into 8 equal portions. Roll each into a circle, about 6 or 7 inches in diameter, and place on cookie sheets.
- Allow dough to rest on cookie sheets and preheat oven to 500 degrees.
- When oven is heated, bake pitas for 3 minutes until they are slightly brown and puffed up.
- Let cool and slice each pita in half to serve.