Vefa’s Pita Bread

Nov 11th, 2009 | By | Category: Appetizer, Bread, Corn Flour, Dips, Dough, Flour, Frying, Greek, How To, Meze

IMG_2494-2One of the most well-known foods in Greek cuisine is pita bread. It’s used to scoop-up dips that are usually included in the mix of mezedes (Greek appetizers).

We wrap souvlaki in them, we wrap gyro in them, we use pita bread to scoop Taramosalata, Melitzanosalata, Tzatziko, Red Pepper Dip, Parsley Salad, Htipiti, Fava, Hummus. Name the dip…pita bread is there (a search in my blog will offer recipes for all these dishes). IMG_2488-1

There are many pita breads that can be bought from your local grocer or Greek market but again, nothing beats homemade. I’ve tried many recipes for homemade pita bread and today’s recipe is the best one out there (in my opinion).

The kitchen is as much about experimentation as it is nurturing and pulling-off a dish. On the same day that I made the pita bread, I also tried my hand at homemade pork gyro.IMG_2448-1

In Greece, the “gyro” you might see in North America that more resembles meatloaf than gyro is nowhere to be found in Greece. If you were to visit Greece tomorrow, you would find pork and chicken gyro. IMG_7945

For my pork gyro, I used a combo of pork belly and pork butt (shoulder), marinated it over night and stacked the meat on an upright kitchen towel dispenser.IMG_2477-1

The idea came from a cooking segment on Antenna’s (Greek TV station) morning show. The meat was stacked, wrapped in foil and placed in a preheated oven for 90 minutes. After, the foil is removed and the meat is exposed to crisp-up and take on it’s brown colour.IMG_2480-1

The result? The flavour was fantastic…it had that Greek gyro taste but I found the meat a little too dry for my liking. I have to play around with the pork cuts (more fat needed) .IMG_2483-1

I can see folks having a “gyro party”. After each instance of shaving off the crisped pork meat, the gyro stack goes back into the oven for the next round of Gyros on a pita. I’m thinking the outdoor rotisserie will also make for wonderful gyro.

My brother Danny, signalling his satisfaction

My brother Danny, signaling his satisfaction

Why not try your hand at your own homemade gyro? Go out and find an upright kitchen towel dispenser (no plastic) and try your hand at it?

I’m witholding my recipe as this is a work in progress…when I get it right – you’ll get it!IMG_2456-2

In the meantime, I can and will share this pita bread recipe, courtesy of Vefa Alexiadou’s latest book, “Vefa’s Kitchen”. This huge collection of her best Greek dishes was just released eariler this year to the English speaking world.IMG_2493-2

Vefa is huge in Greece, continues to appear on television on her own show and I’m sure that every Greek homemaker has tried at least one of her dishes. Christmas is coming up, Vefa’s Kitchen would make for a wonderful gift.IMG_2463-1

Making pita bread is easy. You need a basic bread recipe, a heavy cast-iron skillet, offset spatula to flip the pita bread and a cotton kitchen towel to wrap them as they cool.

I am going to share Vefa’s recipe and method but I want to also tell you that rolling out some dough from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes master recipe also works splendidly here.IMG_2466-1

Buying pita bread from the market is a thing of the past for me. I’ve recently become a bread snob (spoiled by homemade bread) and now I will only eat homemade pita bread.IMG_2501-1

Vefa’s Pita Bread

Note: the amount of pita bread units depends on how big you roll them out to. I like big pita breads. I used a large cast iron skillet in this instance. You should be good for at least 8, depending on the size you like them to be.

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast

1 tsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 cup warm (body temperature) water

coarse corn flour/cornmeal) for dusting – not corn starch (Corn starch is labeled/called corn flour in Greece but to the rest of the world, corn flour and cornmeal are one & the same)

vegetable oil for greasing the pan

  1. In a large bowl, add the water, olive oil, yeast, salt and sugar and let stand for five minutes or until you see that the yeast is active.
  2. Using your hands, gradually add the the flour into wet and knead with your hands until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Cover and leave in a warm spot in your kitchen to rise and rest for about 30 minutes.
  3. Divide into six pieces and roll out into 8 to 10 -inch rounds that are about 1/4 inch thick. Dust both sides lightly with cornmeal and lightly poke the surface of your pita breads with the tines of a fork (careful not to poke right through).
  4. Place a heavy cast-iron skillet (non-stick pan is fine  as well) and heat to medium-high. You may place your pita dough on corn-meal lined pizza peel to slide onto the hot skillet.
  5. Pour some vegetable oil in a small bowl and dunk some kitchen towel in it and grease your hot cast iron skillet.
  6. Place your pita dough on the hot skillet and and fry the bread for a couple of minutes a side or until they start to puff and bubble up. Flip and fry the other side.
  7. Place fried pita breads on to a large cotton kitchen towel and cover. Dab your kitchen towel into the bowl of vegetable oil and place another flattened pita dough on the skillet.
  8. Repeat frying each pita bread and stack them, tucked inside the kitchen towel. Serve warm or allow to cool inside the kitchen towel until cooled. Store in a sealed plastic bag for up to a week or freeze.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at  http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

© 2007-2009 Peter Minakis

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© 2009 – 2011, Peter Minakis. All rights reserved. If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

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69 Comments to “Vefa’s Pita Bread”

  1. Katerina says:

    This looks delicious! Is pita bread traditionally fried? The only time I have ever made it I did it in the oven. However, I have made naan with a similar method.

  2. Elle says:

    I’ll take one, please! They look fabulous, Peter!

  3. Maya says:

    I really enjoyed this post. I’ve been baking my own bread for the last 4 years and I’m always glad to hear when others do it, too!
    However, I’ve never made pita bread before and I’d like to give it a try – but I do have one question: can I use fresh yeast instead of dry one? (does it make any difference…?)

  4. Anna says:

    Looks do-able, well the pita at least. I don’t know about the gyro. I’ll need your help. Now I just need to get me one of those there skillets.

  5. Stamatia says:

    Mmm-mmm, looks good! I was just saying to my boyfriend not 15 minutes ago that I wanted “Vefa’s Kitchen” for Christmas, and saw your post right after, which gave me a chuckle.

    I hope that’s homemade tzatziki I see in those gyros! ;)

  6. Tony says:

    Peter, you’re awesome–I love the kitchen towel dispenser technique. You are a true Kalofagas, my friend :D

  7. Rosa says:

    That looks really good! I love pita & souvlaki!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  8. Maria says:

    Oh my goodness, there is nothing better than soft, fluffy, sweet homemade pitas! Oraio. :D

  9. Linda says:

    Those looks fabulous! Delicious!

  10. maria v says:

    braco – thiese look like the real thing

  11. Souvlaki in a pita is one of my favorite things. There’s a little hole-in-the-wall place, right near Boston’s Symphony Hall, that sells this, and before symphony performances, people line up in their fancy clothes to eat souvlaki-pita sandwiches.

  12. Kristen says:

    Nothing better than homemade pitas! It has been a long time since I made some. Waiting for your gyro recipe, sounds much more delicious than the meatloaf variety :)

  13. MsGourmet says:

    Alright already I going to get Vefa’s book!

  14. I never realized pita bread could be cooked in a skillet. I make my own homemade bread but never tried pita. You’ve set me on the path.

  15. pam says:

    Wow, Peter that meat looks fantastic! But those pitas are incredible. And I have to thank you for reminding me to use my 5 minute dough! I have some in the fridge right now!

  16. Biz says:

    Love this recipe Peter! I found you through Robin-Sue at Big Red Kitchen.

    I will defintely make these – SOON!

  17. I can’t wait for your gyro recipe Peter, in the meantime I will continue to dream of those I had in Greece or here locally.

  18. Theatsa says:

    I absolutely can’t wait to try this!! It will be heavenly…I can tell!

  19. Anna says:

    Pita looks amazing! I love the pita in Greece, I haven’t found anything that compares here. Is this recipe like the ones in Greece?
    Re: gyro on the outdoor rotisserie, do you have a vertical one? I think the horizontal one wouldn’t work because the juices/fat need to fall on the meat to avoid dryness.

  20. Bren says:

    okay i want to hang out with you for a week so i can eat all this good food!!! geesh! no pork for me, but i’ll take beef!! :)

  21. Janet says:

    I’m in love with the pita! Looks fab… and wow, I did not realize that about gyros- how it is so different. Overnite some for me, will ya? lol

  22. nina says:

    Bread snob….I like that!!! You will soon become a gyro snob too. Fat is flavor and will keep the meat moist for sure!!!Good luck with the experiment!

  23. Vasili says:

    Absolutely beautiful. I’ve never tried making homemade pita bread but this looks great. If you ever come to the Detroit area, make sure you try Ernie’s. Their homemade pita is amazing. I look forward to more recipes!

  24. Foodycat says:

    Stacking it on the kitchen towel dispenser was a stroke of absolute genius! I wonder if one of those tripod chicken roaster thingies would do the job?

    I have to try that pita too. The supermarket pita really doesn’t do it.

  25. grace says:

    LOVE the makeshift spit, peter–very innovative and impressive. the pita bread looks amazing, and that finished wrap, well…let the drooling commence.

  26. Okay Peter, that seriously looks amazing. See your new gyro toy is being put to good use. I must try the homemade pita.

  27. Maria says:

    All I can say is WOW! A kitchen towel holder? That’s genius … I’ve always wondered how I’d make Greek gyro at home and now I know. I will have to buy a kitchen towel holder solely for that purpose though ;)

    And the pites look equally delicious. Kudos Peter!

  28. I want to make some pita! Looks incredible, and fresh from your own oven, it must be delicious.

  29. Kat says:

    I was so surprised the first time we made pita at how easy it is & how tasty. You gyro certainly looks tasty

  30. Pam says:

    Nicely done. My gyro loving husband would be so happy if I made him this meal.

  31. Jeff says:

    Welcome to the wonderful world of being a bread snob. I use to never care but since I started making it at home holy crap I can tell a huge difference. Heck I have even gone to the level of using only my bread for breadcrumbs versus buy the day old loaves for like 10 cents at the store.

    Love the gyro idea. I always have just wanted a pit and I remember something about people using a grill rotisserie.

    The belly and shoulder should give you plenty of fat but what you could look for it fatback which is basically just pure fat to stack in and help keep it moist.

  32. FoodJunkie says:

    OMG! This gyros looks amazing. I think you should use fattier cuts to keep things moist, gyros is fatty anyway. I have never cooked a vefa recipe before but this one looks like a real winner.

  33. The pitas look great. Something I defintely should try, especially since I’m trying to get into baking bread more.

    Your pork looked wonderful. I’m surprised it was dry considering you layered pork belly in there. I love seeing those giant roatating hunks of meat. Your paper towel dispenser really replicated that experience nicely. There is a middle eastern place near my office and they can sell me on the schwarma every time I go in there when I see that giant skewer.

  34. elly says:

    The pita looks really delicious. I keep telling myself I’m going to make my own pita and then I get lazy. And homemade gyros? Peter, you are too ambitious for me, lol.

  35. Farmer Jen says:

    Love the pita. Haven’t tried frying them before, only baked in the oven. I will try this now. And now I want Vefa’s book too!

  36. Hélène says:

    Thanks for sharing the pita bread recipe. Looks easy to make. And that gyros is irresistible Peter.

  37. Soma says:

    Pita in a skillet!! I have done the oven one, but now with my oven not working I will give this a try for sure. Bookmarked.

  38. Nice! Home made Gyros, pita bread. I would be in heaven at your house!

    How would one of those electrical rotiserries work with the Gyro. I have always wanted to try.

  39. Peter G says:

    I bought Vefa’s cook book recently and am very impressed…love it all Peter! The home made pites look fantastic as does your attempt at gyros! Wow! Your ambition in the kitchen is infectious!

  40. ELENA says:

    Homemade pitas, fantastic idea Peter, I’ll, try it!!
    Have a super weekend!!!

  41. dawn says:

    I want a gyro party!!!!!!!!!!

  42. Lori Lynn says:

    Homemade pita sounds heavenly.

    I just might take you up of the gyro challenge.
    LL

  43. i can’t believe how long it took you to post a pita recipe! unless i missed something before…

  44. [...] Gyros and Pita Bread by Kalofagas – By far my favorite Greek street food is the Gyro. This post features a craft way to make Gyros using a paper towel holder. I’m drooling just thinking of the homemade pita bread with the tender Gyro inside. [...]

  45. deeba says:

    I like you, you bread snob! Your meal does look delish, and I love making my own pita bread, and all other breads now too. Now gyro snob & me might just take a little longah…

  46. Jan says:

    LOVE that last picture – I could eat that right now!

  47. Just made flatbread with a similar recipe, except no yeast of course. If this is all there is to pita bread, it’s worth a shot.

  48. Matt Holton says:

    Trying out the whole meal – thanks for the recipe

  49. Lisa says:

    FYI:

    Cornflour in the UK is a very, very fine white powder, that looks almost like confectioners (icing) sugar. Mainly used for thickening gravies and sauces.
    Cornmeal is a yellow or white meal, slightly gritty in texture. It is ground, dried maize/corn – like polenta meal.

  50. Mandy says:

    The pita bread looks great!

    Mandy

  51. [...] with some crusty bread or try some homemade pita bread and [...]

  52. kristin says:

    Mine was so sticky! It was pretty hard to handle, actually, but I added a touch more flour and used the cornmeal to unstick it, too. Is it 3 cups of flour plus more until it pulls away from the bowl (because mine never did after 3 cups) or is it supposed to be sticky and hard to work with? Otherwise, they look and feel so authentic. I hope it’s the recipe I’ve been searching for for over a year! I’m excited for my husband to come home and try them already!

  53. This looks incredible! Now I know where to go when I want to make pitas!

  54. I wonder if you could use whole wheat flour for this??

  55. [...] or charcoal grill and allow the skewers to rest on them. Make a batch of rice pilaf, serve up some homemade pita bread and serve the Kebabs with the roast tomato and green pepper kebabs, the onion salad with sumac and [...]

  56. Linda says:

    I am drooling…you are amazing!

  57. Penny Vitouladitis says:

    Can I please be your taste tester?? This looks soooo good!!

  58. Tulips says:

    Hi,
    Great website! Love the recipes.
    Is there a way to make a whole wheat version of this type of pita? The preparation is so fast and practical…If I was better at cooking I’d attempt to tweak it, but knowing me, I’ll just end with goo !

    • Maria, I haven’t tried a wholewheat version of pita bread but it is doable. You’ll have do use a 50/50 mix of white & wholewheat and a little extra water.

  59. Sandi says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I regularly make homemade tortillas, and this was just a tad more difficult as I threw all of the items in my breadmaker and hit the dough cycle. I recently bought some raw gyro meat (the meatloaf kind), so I was inspired to make the bread. The bread was so easy and dinner was delicious. Thanks. I think I will try the real meat eventually after looking at the pictures on this site. But the “loaf” kind is all we’ve ever had here locally, so it was still a real treat.

  60. Kelly says:

    The dough was really, really sticky but the pitas came out very tasty. Served them with leftover roasted semi-boneless lamb.

  61. Chris says:

    Hi Peter

    Looking forward to making this. What do you marinade the meat in?

  62. Marissa says:

    Just made this tonight for gyros. They turned out awesome, especially since I rolled them out on the board that I used to mice the garlic and herbs on. Thanks for an easy recipe that will get regular use!

  63. Miran says:

    Delicious and simple. I have made these a couple times now. They are so much better than the ones you find at the store or on other websites (some use egg…). I like to make extra and freeze them. Of course, they are not as good as freshly cooked ones, but its nice to have when you don’t have time to make fresh ones. I have also made them with half wheat, half AP flour- they come out great.

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