Pitta bread sprinkled with za’atar

There’s absolutely nothing better than tearing apart a steaming pitta, before dousing it in hummus and harissa, and devouring slowly.  I’ve been using this fabulous recipe by super-baker Dan Lepard for years and it’s the closest I’ve come to the amazing pittot made by our middle-eastern bread-making friends here in Bristol, Abu Noor.

Pitta3Makes about 8 pittas
Preparation and cooking time: approx 2 hours 30 minutes


300g strong white flour
200g plain flour
1 level teaspoon easy-blend yeast
1 level tablespoon caster sugar
1 level teaspoon fine salt
2 tablespoon sunflower oil
325ml warm water
1 tablespoon of za’atar (if you have it.  Otherwise, here’s how to make it)


Scald a large mixing bowl with boiling water.  Place both flours, yeast, sugar and salt into the bowl, followed by the oil and water, and mix together to make a soft, sticky dough.  Cover the bowl with a dry dish cloth and leave the dough for 10 minutes.  Rub a tablespoon of oil onto the work surface to cover an area about the size of a dinner plate and tip the dough out onto the oiled surface before kneading lightly for only 8-10 seconds, until smooth.  Return the dough to the bowl, cover again and repeat this light-kneading process twice more at 10-minute intervals.  Then leave the dough, covered, for 30 minutes.

Pitta1Heat your oven to at least 250°C (230°C for fan-assisted) or gas mark 9 and place a clean baking tray on a rack in the oven for 20 minutes to get very hot.  Meanwhile, lightly flour a clean work surface and divide the dough into pieces weighing around 100g, before rolling each piece into a ball.  Cover these balls and leave to rest for 15 minutes.  Next, roll out each ball into an oval roughly 5mm thick and again leave to rest for 2 minutes.

Pitta2At this point, you can sprinkle your pitta with za’atar, a heavenly Middle-Eastern condiment made from fresh, dried and toasted ingredients.  And here’s my easy-peasy recipe for za’atar should you wish to make some.

Quickly take the tray out of the oven, shut the door, lay one or two pittas on it and return to the oven.  Bake for 3-5 minutes or until risen and barely coloured.  Immediately remove with tongs (watch out, these babies are hot hot hot) and leave to cool under a cloth, to keep soft and moist.  Repeat with the remaining pitta.

Naturally, there’s nothing greater than eating freshly-baked bread but these pitta freeze excellently, and can be reheated and enjoyed at another time.

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