Homemade Whole Wheat Pita Bread

With Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow, I began anticipating turkey sandwich leftovers with Armenian Pita Bread. When it's not a special occasion, however, I typically don't eat many servings of bread in a day, and when I do, I like to consume whole grains.

So I thought I would spend some time trying to create the perfect 100% whole wheat pita bread. I am so thrilled with how it came out, especially since my first attempt years ago was not as successful.

This time I did plenty of research on suggested ways to convert white flour bread recipes to 100% whole wheat bread recipes.  I hope you'll give this recipe a try and see for yourself how yummy and wholesome this bread turns out!

What Ingredients do I need for Homemade Whole Wheat Pita Bread?

  • Whole wheat flour: On a recent visit to my Cousin Mary O'Rullian's house, she let me in on the secret ingredient to her amazing homemade white bread loaf.  She said a friend had told her how great the Wheat Montana flour brand is. So, when I was looking for a brand of whole wheat flour to try, I was pleased to find that Wheat Montana offered a 100% White Whole Wheat flour called Prairie Gold Flour. You will find the White Whole Wheat is milder in taste and has characteristics closer to regular white flour, while providing all of the benefits of regular red wheat. If using a 5 lb. bag as recommended, scoop out 1 1/2 cups of flour and save for another use.  Wheat flour is heavier than white flour, and this adjustment helps your bread turn out just right. You will also add additional water, which will also help make the moisture content perfect for a wheat dough.
  • Vital Wheat Gluten FlourThe other key ingredient to making a 100% whole wheat pita bread rise as well as the white bread version is to add a little extra gluten.
  • Active dry yeast: Although you can adjust the quantity of yeast to substitute instant yeast for dry active yeast, I have found good results with the active dry yeast. 
  • Warm water: You'll need approximately 6-6 1/2 cups of water, in addition to the 1/2 cup of water you use to proof your yeast.  This is an extra cup of water than is used in the white flour recipe.  Don't be alarmed if your dough is a little stickier than with white flour.  As long as you let your dough rest for the recommended 30 minutes before kneading, you should be fine.  If necessary, coat your hands with a little oil or flour to help them keep from sticking to the dough.  You can also sprinkle a little more flour to knead into the dough if absolutely necessary.
  • Sugar: Just a couple teaspoons of regular sugar to help feed your yeast.
  • Salt: A tablespoon should do the trick without making the bread taste salty.
  • Butter Just enough to coat the pan where your first two rises take place.

How to Make Homemade Whole Wheat Pita Bread:

Mix wheat flour, vital wheat gluten flour and salt in a large bowl. Add warm water slowly and mix with hands. In a small bowl, combine yeast, tepid water and sugar.  Stir and let sit until foamy. 

Once yeast has dissolved, add yeast mixture to flour mixture. Before kneading, combine the dough with your hands just until the flour is incorporated and then let the dough rest for 30 minutes.  

This is a special step for making wheat bread and is not necessary when making white bread.  The resting period allows the water to absorb more thoroughly into the wheat. Please don't skip this step!

Next, knead the dough with your hands, incorporating all of the dry and wet ingredients until you get a shaggy consistency that can be divided into two sections for kneading by a machine mixer with the dough attachment. Or continue to knead by hand.  

Dough should be moist, soft, smooth and pull away from the sides of the bowl when sufficiently kneaded. Rub butter all over the inside of the bowl where you will let the dough rise. 

Put dough inside a greased bowl and turn over once or twice to coat outside of dough with a thin film of butter and then cover bowl with plastic wrap and moistened tea towels. Spray the inside of the plastic wrap with cooking spray to keep dough from sticking. Put the dough in a warm place to rise. Let dough rise until 1 1/2 to double in size. (Some experts said that as long as the dough gets puffy, it isn't necessary to double in size, but I personally didn't have trouble seeing my dough double in size, especially during the second rise. It may be because of the special adjustments I made for whole wheat flour.)

Turn over dough. Punch down. Then cover and rise again until double in size.
After second rise, form the dough into balls, a size slightly smaller than a baseball. 

Lay the balls of dough 2 inches apart, placed between two bedding sheets, and a sheet of plastic on top. (Something went wrong with taking pictures of this step, so please take a look at the Heavenly Homemade Pita Bread post for more pictures and a video tutorial with very similar steps).

Let the balls of dough rise again for 1/2 hour to an hour until about double in size.
Then, with a rolling pin and using light pressure, roll each ball on a bread board to half an inch thick. Put the flattened dough back on the sheets for its fourth and final rise.

Place an oven rack near the top of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. Heat a sturdy cookie sheet on the oven rack to preheat the tray. 

With great care to not disturb the dough, gently place the dough on the hot tray and put in oven to bake. Even little tiny finger prints can cause your dough not to puff up as well as you would expect, so use extra caution when transferring the dough to the cookie sheet.

Bake dough for approximately 6 minutes.  The time will vary depending on your oven. I suggest to begin checking after 3 minutes. I like to see a little golden hue on the top and bottom of the pita. Remove bread to a cooling rack and enjoy! Hopefully you can save enough to eat with your leftovers!


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