Syrian Pita or Pocket Bread Recipe

  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2½ cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon honey or sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 6 cups enriched white bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  1. In a small bowl, combine the yeast, ½ cup of the warm water, and the honey. Let stand until slightly frothy, about 5 minutes. Add the oil and mix.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour the yeast mixture into it, mixing it into the flour with a wooden spoon. Add the remaining 2 cups warm water, ½ cup at a time. Shape the dough into a sticky ball and knead on a clean, well-floured work surface until very smooth and elastic, a good 10 minutes (add more flour as needed, a little at a time, if your dough is too sticky to knead).
  3. Place the dough in a greased glass or plastic bowl and cover with a towel. Let rest in a warm place for 1½ hours to rise and double in size.
  4. Knead the dough on a floured surface for another 10 minutes (again, adding flour as needed) and roll it into a tube about 1 foot long and about 3½ to 4 inches in diameter. Using a sharp knife, mark 16 equal lines on the roll of dough, then break the dough into 16 pieces of equal size and roll each into a ball.
  5. On the same floured surface, roll out each ball with a rolling pin or tall glass until the dough is ¼ inch thick and 6 inches in diameter, resembling a small pizza. Place each rolled-out piece of dough on a floured piece of foil cut to the same size as a baking sheet, 4 to 5 at a time, until all 16 have been made.
  6. Cover the flattened dough pieces with a kitchen towel and let them rise in a warm spot for another 2 hours. (At this point, preheat the oven to 550°F for 2 hours. It is important to get the oven temperature as high as possible so that each pita bakes quickly and forms a pocket.)
  7. Carefully lift up one sheet of foil with the risen dough pieces and place on a baking sheet. Bake on the middle rack in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Do not open the oven more than a crack until you see the bread puff up. Take the sheet out and remove the baked pita breads, placing them in a basket and covering them with a clean cloth to keep warm. Discard the used foil and transfer another sheet of unbaked pieces to the baking sheet. Continue to bake in this manner, one sheet at a time, until all the pitas are baked.
  8. Serve immediately alongside any maazeh salad or spread or as a sandwich with ijeh in its pocket. These really don’t stay soft and fresh past a day, but if you have a lot left over, store them in a zipper-lock plastic bag for up to 2 days on the counter or 1 week in the freezer, toasting them in the oven when needed.