It’s always rewarding to pull a sourdough creation from the oven, but pita bread has a bonus fun factor. As they bake, sourdough pitas puff into floury pillows, holding their shape until they hit the cooling rack. When they cool, they collapse into flatbread ready to be stuffed with fillings or rebaked as chips.
As I explain this week in my Twice as Tasty column for the Flathead Beacon, a few tricks help with the rise and fall of sourdough pita bread, but don’t worry if a few pita rounds refuse to puff evenly—they’ll still be tasty, and with practice, you’ll become better at rolling the rounds and timing the baking for pillowy sourdough pita.
Learn more about baking with sourdough starter and get the complete recipe for Pillowy Sourdough Pita in my column. If you need starter, I’m giving away dehydrated packets of my personal sourdough starter until January 31. You can learn more about the giveaway here.
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Twice as Tasty
I suggest new sourdough bakers start with pita bread or Sourdough Pizza Dough as their first oven-baked sourdough creations. They’re so delicious and easy that I continue to make both recipes regularly after years of baking with sourdough. These two flatbread variations have a lot in common, with the same kneading technique and just slight variations in ingredients and cooking temperature. The biggest difference is in the puffing and rolling: you intentionally roll pita bread on just one side to encourage its pillowy shape, and you intentionally roll pizza dough on both sides and poke it thoroughly with the tines of a fork to discourage it from pillowing and cooking too quickly.
If a pita round comes out flat or pizza dough puffs, it’s still usable. Unevenly puffed pita rounds can usually be coaxed open with a bread knife when you’re ready to fill them. A giant round of pillow pizza dough can be collapsed with a few fork pokes as soon as you pull it from the oven—just be careful to keep your hand away from the burst of steam. Both fixes become a little more challenging if you’ve overcooked the dough and it starts to harden, so it’s best to keep a close eye on pita and pizza rounds when they’re in the oven.
Sourdough pizza dough can be topped, or even filled, with an endless list of flavors. Pita bread can be topped and filled in the same way. Here are recipes for some of my favorite pita bread uses and pairings on the blog. You can find more in the recipe index.
- Sourdough Pita Chips
- Baked Falafel
- Grilled Onion Relish in The Complete Guide to Pickling
- Shaved and Fermented Carrots in The Complete Guide to Pickling
- Curried Green Tomatoes in The Complete Guide to Pickling
- Dry-Salted Feta
- Roasted-Garlic Hummus
- Baba Ghanouj
- Creamy White Bean and Yogurt Dip
I recently tested chip and dip sets for The Spruce Eats, pairing dips with both soft sourdough pita wedges and crispy sourdough pita chips and even filling a set with fixings for falafel sandwiches. You can learn more about my favorite sets in this blog post.
Need starter? The 6th Annual Sourdough Giveaway runs through January 31, 2023. Get your free sourdough starter here.