You might ask why you would ever bother making your own pita bread – the ones you buy at the supermarket are acceptable and really who has time? But although it’s cliched to say it, really home made is better. I always make a double batch and put some in the freezer. They’re handy to have in for lunches, or for snacking and they’ve even been know to make an appearance for dinner. Filled with some grilled fish or chicken, salad and a dollop of mayonnaise, or pesto and you’ve got a quick and easy dinner.
These aren’t particularly difficult or time consuming to make, although they do need cooking one at a time. However, it’s not arduous and it’s quite satisfying watching the bread disks puffing up in the oven and they only take a few minutes each. Really you should give them a go, you won’t be sorry.
Place the lukewarm water, yeast and sugar in a bowl. Stir to combine. Add 35g each of the spelt flour and the plain flour and whisk together. Set the bowl aside for about 15 minutes. It will start to bubble and froth.
Add the remaining flour to a large bowl. Add the salt and the olive oil. Pour in the yeast mixture and use your hands to mix and form a rough dough. Continue to mix it in the bowl for about 1 minute, incorporating all of the dry bits of dough. If you need to you can add a little extra flour but try not to as a moist dough will produce much better bread.
Turn the dough out onto the kitchen bench and knead for about 2 minutes or until it is smooth. Again add a little flour if necessary but try not to add too much. Return to the bowl and cover. Let rest for 10 minutes and then knead again for 2 minutes.
Return the dough to the bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Put the bowl in a warm place and leave to rise until the dough has doubled in size. This should take about 1 hour. During this past very warm weather, and generally in summer, I tend to do this in the fridge otherwise the dough rises far too quickly. It might take a little bit longer, but not too much.
While the dough is rising preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius. Place a heavy baking tray, pizza stone or cast iron pan in the oven to heat at the same time.
When the dough is ready, remove it from the bowl and divide into 8 similar sized rounds. Roll each one into a ball and place on your work surface, slightly spaced apart and covered by a damp tea towel. Leave for 10 minutes.
Remove 1 ball and roll into a flat disk about 18cm round. You will need to use a bit of flour to stop it from sticking. Lift the round onto the baking tray in the oven. It should take about 2 minutes for the dough to puff up. Use tongs to tun it over and bake for another 1 minute. You don't want the bread to colour too much or to become crisp. Remove from the oven and place on a tea towel. Cover with a second tea towel, this will make sure the bread stays soft. Repeat with the remaining balls.