These pitas are very much unlike what you are probably used to buying at the grocery store. They’re chewy and flavorful, both light and bready. I will freely confess that if you’re looking for a perfect pita recipe that puffs with a stuffable pocket every single time, you’ll want to move along — I do often achieve the pockets, but not on every pita and not every time. For us it doesn’t matter much; we happily top and wrap instead of stuffing, because these are so tasty, but consider yourself fairly warned that the pocketed pita may remain elusive.
2 cups sourdough sponge
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons honey
3 cups flour of your choice (we prefer white whole wheat), plus more for handling the dough
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
In a large bowl — preferably the bowl of a stand mixer, though you can make these by hand — combine the sponge, water and honey. Mix well.
Gradually add the flour and salt, mixing until the flour is incorporated and no large lumps remain. Gradually stream in the olive oil, mixing constantly. You should achieve a slightly shiny, wet dough.
If using a stand mixer, turn the speed up to medium-high and let the mixer work the dough for 5-7 minutes. If mixing by hand, wet or oil one hand and turn and fold the dough in its bowl for 7-10 minutes, until it’s smooth and homogenized.
Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warmish place, free from drafts, for 3-4 hours or until the dough has risen (it should seem puffy and to have slightly grown in volume, but likely will not double).
Place a sturdy baking sheet upside-down on one of your oven racks. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees, with the baking sheet still inside — the heated sheet is essential to baking pitas.
Sprinkle the dough, in its bowl, with 1/4 cup of flour. Gently turn the dough to coat with the flour and help it to pull away from the bowl.
Lightly flour a work surface. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and cut into 8 equal pieces (if the dough is too runny to handle, add more flour as needed and gently fold it into the dough until you’re able to work with it). Roll each piece of dough gently into a ball and let the balls rest for 15 minutes.
Using a rolling pin, roll each dough ball out into a circle (they probably won’t be perfect – mine rarely are!) about 4-6 inches in diameter. Gently transfer two disks at a time to the heated baking sheet, placing them side-by-side and preferably not touching. Quickly close the oven door. Bake the pitas at 500 degrees for 6-8 minutes, until lightly golden brown and (hopefully!) puffed. Remove quickly and transfer to a plate or rack to cool — you want to keep the oven temperature as consistent as possible, so try not to have the door open more than is absolutely necessary.
Repeat with the remaining pitas. These are great no matter what, but I especially like them served warm.