Why does a pita puff?

by | Apr 6, 2023 | Blog, Cooking Tips and Tricks, Healthy Recipes | 0 comments

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to have a few volunteers come and make pitas with me for our meal. We made 120 pitas, which were then served with roasted spiced chickpeas, a lemon dill sauce, and an arugula salad with pickled radish and onions. So what makes a pita puff? How is that pocket created? 

Well, the science is pretty straightforward. When the pita dough is rolled thin and then it hits a very hot oven, the heat on the outside begins to cook and dry the exterior. On the inside of the pita, evaporating water becomes steam which balloons the center of the moist pita, creating a pocket.  

In case you were curious, here is the recipe I used for the pitas:


– 500g AP Flour
– 310g H20
– 15g Salt
– 5g yeast
– 15g vegetable oil
At 100 grams/pita, this would give you 8 pitas. 

  1. Mix your H20 and yeast together in a stand mixture and allow to bloom.
  2. Once bloomed, add all of your ingredients together and mix for 10 minutes. 
  3. After 10 minutes, remove from the mixing bowl and place in a lightly oiled bowl/container and cover with plastic wrap for 1 hour.
  4. After 1 hour, remove from the container and portion into dough balls @ 100g each.
  5. Let the dough balls rest, covered with plastic wrap, for approximately 30-45 minutes. 
  6. Preheat your oven to 450F, and place a baking stone, baking steel, or upside down sheet tray inside.
  7. Roll each ball out into a thin disc.
  8. When the oven is hot and the baking surface has had time to heat, place a disc (or two) of dough in the oven, right onto the stone/steel/sheet. 
  9. Bake for 2 minutes on each side, using tongs to flip.
  10. Remove from the oven, place on a plate and cover with a tea towel (one that has not been cleaned with a detergent as the soap smell may bleed through to your food).
  11. The pita will be crusty at this point, and the tea towel will help continue to heat and steam the pita, softening it slightly.
  12. After a few minutes you can push down on your pita to flatten. 
  13. Serve immediately, or place in a zip top bag and store in the freezer for later use. 

Written by David Salerno

Originally from the Northeast, David (he/him) has been in Seattle since 2016. He studied classic culinary arts at the French Culinary Institute in NYC and currently works as the Senior Meal Program Coordinator at HIP. He can completely nerd out over culinary anthropology and can talk about food and food science for hours with anyone who is willing to listen. When not in the kitchen, you can find him playing hockey or running in different neighborhoods of Seattle.

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