Chef Alon Shaya of New Orlean’s Shaya restaurant makes these beautiful pita breads in a 700° wood-burning oven. You can recreate the heat at home with a pizza stone and your broiler. Shaya recommends letting the dough rise for the full two days for the best flavor.
Slideshow:More Pita Recipes
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for greasing
1 teaspoon instant yeast
4 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
How to Make It
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the warm water with 2 tablespoons of canola oil and the yeast and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the bread flour to the yeast mixture. If using a stand mixer, fit it with the dough hook and knead the mixture on low speed for 3 minutes, until a dough starts to form. Pause occasionally to scrape down the side and bottom of the bowl. If kneading by hand, start by stirring with a wooden spoon and then use your hands to knead the dough until the flour is incorporated. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dish towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
Add the 1/4 cup all-purpose flour to the dough along with the salt and knead until a smooth ball forms. The dough will be pretty tacky, but if it’s so sticky that you can’t work with it, add more bread flour, 2 tablespoons at a time.
Transfer the dough to a clean, non-floured work surface and roll it into a ball. Lightly grease the inside of a large bowl with canola oil and place the dough inside, flipping it once or twice to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and let the dough rise at a warm room temperature for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, the dough will be stretchy but very soft. Leaving it inside the bowl, pull both sides over the center. Rotate the bowl a quarter-turn and do this one more time, then flip the whole mound of dough upside-down and cover. Let rise for 1 hour.
Repeat this series of folds one more time, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.
Transfer the dough to a clean, dry work surface and use a bench scraper or sharp knife to cut it into 8 equal pieces; make clean, decisive cuts rather than a sawing motion so you don’t deflate all the air inside. Cover the cut dough with a dish towel.
Working with one piece at a time, cup your hand around the dough with your fingertips and rest the heel of your hand steady on the work surface. Roll it in brisk, small circles, creating tension with the countertop that pulls the dough into a smooth, taut ball. Place the ball seam side down underneath the towel and repeat with remaining pieces.
Lightly grease a large baking sheet with canola oil and place each round of dough a few inches apart, seam side down, rolling lightly to coat in oil. Tightly cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap so the dough doesn’t dry out and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 to 4 more hours, until pillowy.
Meanwhile, set a baking stone on the center rack of the oven and turn the broiler on high. Let the oven preheat for at least 1 hour. Lightly flour a work surface and use a bench scraper or thin metal spatula to coax one piece of dough into your palm; be sure you don’t manhandle it or you’ll force out the pockets of air that formed while it rose. Dust a little more flour on the top of the dough and onto your rolling pin. With firm, even pressure, briskly roll the dough a few times along its length. Flip it upside-down, rotate it a quarter-turn, and roll it the same way, keeping it as round as possible. Repeat, dusting a little extra flour as needed, until it’s about 6 inches across.
Use tongs or an oven mitt to partially pull out the oven rack with the baking stone. Carefully pick up the pita, drape it over your palm, and slap it down onto the stone, being careful not to physically touch the hot stone. Close the oven and bake the pita for about 2 minutes, until puffed and blistered on one side. If pita is still pale, close the oven and bake in 30-second intervals until done. Use tongs to flip the pita over and finish baking with the oven door cracked open. Pull the pita out when the second side is puffed and blistered, from 30 seconds to 2 minutes depending on the broiler. Repeat with remaining dough. Serve hot or at room temperature.
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