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How Do I Make ... ?
Pitta Bread
Pitta or Pita Bread is very easy to make and is a daily staple of middle eastern meals. The recipe is very similar to making bread, but quantities differ. In native countries Pitta Bread is cooked in very hot clay ovens, so getting your heat source hot enough is your only problem - but we have a few good tips to help you out.

The pitta bread we are making is exactly the same as bought on UK supermarket shelves, or as sold by your chip shop for doner kebabs.

Recipe Source:
Image: Jonno on the streets of Foshan, China Jonno, China Expats, Foshan, China  
Jonno is a keen chef for friends and family. He has cooked and interpolated many dishes over the years, and invented ones of his own: Most notably 'Splodge', which is vaguely based upon Italian cuisine  
Let's get started:- Home made Pitta Bread
Ingredients: Image: Pitta Bread ready for eating - Click to Enlarge
1lb bread flour
12oz bread flour and 4oz wholemeal flour
1 gill (6oz) warm water
1+1/2 tsp sugar or honey
3 tsp instant yeast or 1/4 oz active dry yeast
(Boy Cooks - one packet should do it)
A little Olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

1. Put the sugar (or honey) in a warmed bowl and add the water (About 110 degrees F is ideal). Set aside in a warm place and leave for between 5 and 15 minutes (Depends on type of yeast and temperature). This should result in a frothy mixture, which means the yeast has activated and is working.

2. Into a mixing bowl add the flour and a little salt, plus about 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
Nb: Salt can prevent the yeast working, so we never, ever, add yeast to any mixture containing salt, until the yeast has activated nicely.

3. Make a well in the flour mix, and slowly pour in the activated yeast water, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula until it becomes unworkable.
Nb: If the mix is too stiff = add some water. If it is too stodgy = add some flour.

4. Flour a rolling board and now it's time to get messy! Take the sticky dough and knead on the surface, adding a little flour to the board as necessary. This will take between 10 and 15 minutes depending upon how fast you work. Slower is better!

5. You will end up with a nice and fairly firm ball of dough that is not sticky and easily workable and elastic. Smear the outside lightly with a little olive oil and set aside to rest in a warm place. Cover with a damp cloth, or seal inside a freezer bag. Leave for at least 2-hours, and maybe 3 hours. The dough should double in size.

6. Take the risen dough and divide into 4 or 6 balls of equal size. Punch-down, flatten and shape into circles, ovals, or other sharps ideal for fillings. The dough when rolled should be a quarter of an inch thick at least. This should take about one minute.

7. Set aside to rest for a further 15 minutes minimum, and up to half an hour is perfect.
Nb: This second resting is probably the most important part of preparing pitta breads - as this ensures air pockets will form whilst cooking!

Cooking and Temperature Problems in China

In UK I would use my circa: 1932 Leisure 72 oven and preheat this to gas mark 15, placing a large slab of rock in the bottom (Old gas ovens are hottest at the bottom) to preheat also. Gas mark 15 used to exist in household ovens between the wars in UK, but now is only available within the commercial cookery industry. Whatever you are using, get it as hot as possible and fully preheat a really large lump of rock to cook the pitta's on - granite is best.

Our main problem here is that we need to emulate the high temperatures used in native mud ovens. China does not yet even have household ovens, so we need to use our initiative!

If you have an oven, then wham it up to maximum temperature and leave for 30 minutes. Placing a thick and flat piece of stone in the bottom works really well in China - and whilst marble is often thrown away on the streets, granite would be better. If you have lived for any time in China, then you will already have pressed a useful bit of rock into service. If using a stone, then ensure that this heats fully within the oven for the entire 30 minutes.

If you do not have an oven, then you can adapt one of the weird, cylindrical Chinese BBQ thingymagig's that use rounds of charcoal bricks. These things are about 15 inches high and available outside any reasonably sized wet market. You will certainly get enough heat from these, but still need to use a vented rack above the top outlet, and preheated slab of rock on top of this as a hearth to cook bread. However, what you do with the remaining four hours of available heat source is another problem - so why not cook some fresh kebabs to put inside the pitta's?

Your worst and most likely option is to have to use a gas hob. We are struggling with temperature immediately, so turn it upside down and find the gas regulator on the pipe near the hob unit or control. This is a circular ring that adjusts the gas flow. Open this fully - and if is is lower than before, open it fully the other way!

Having gotten the gas ring as hot as possible, you now need to preheat your heaviest grill pan or any solid lump of iron. You could also just place a thick, large and flat lump of rock on top instead. Put this to preheat on the highest setting for about 10 minutes, while you try and work out how to adapt a wok lid to fit over your new cooking contraption? This method may not be hot enough to for the pitta's to form pockets - or it may just do it!


Hopefully we have finally sorted out a heat source that is hot enough by now, and can move on to the actual cooking...

Cooking two or three pitta's at a time, simply throw them onto the very hot cooking stone or iron, and leave for a few minutes. Your cooking time is generally determined by the heat available. Regardless of whether this takes 2-minutes or 7 minutes; the pitta is cooked when a few light brown spots appear on the outside, and the pocket swells.

Do not overcook, so remove from heat as soon as done and set aside to rest under a slightly moistened towel for a few minutes.


The pitta can be split once cooked, but do benefit from being reheated - perhaps in a toaster for a minute or so until they swell into a pocket again. This gives you time to finish preparing the ingredients of your dish at leisure, and also crisps the pitta's slightly. If used immediately, they may not be ideal for pockets containing sloppy fillings, and may disintegrate. Reheating solves this small issue.


Pitta bread can be kept for up to 1-week in the refrigerator, or for up to 1-month in the freezer. This emulates their normal use in UK, so you may want to make a batch of them for freezing every so often.

Additional Recipes and Information:
Once you get the hang of this simple recipe, you can alter it slightly to suit yourself. Some people add a little crushed and diced garlic, whilst others prefer to add a lot of garlic and some herbs (Thyme, Basil, Oregano) and use for dipping instead of kebabs.

To use for sweet dishes, then add a little extra honey to the basic mixture separately, and shape into fans or cones. Add ice cream and fresh fruit for something completely different.
Related recipes:  Coming soon
This information is as supplied by ourselves, and ably supported by our friends and various internet portals.
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