Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Pita of the Desert Surprise

The Sourdough Surprise for February is Flatbread. Sourdough Surprises is a fun monthly baking group who strive to use their sourdough starters for things other than bread (although they do a lot of that too!)

The Middle East is where sourdough was birthed many generations ago so it seemed fitting to make sourdough pita. Khubz Arabi or “Arab Bread” is a soft, round flatbread. It is also known as “Pita of the Desert.” I made my version with a spelt levain and white spelt flour. An ancient grain for an ancient bread.

This pita bread has a delicious sourdough flavor. We were supposed to make a flatbread that you cook on a griddle or stovetop; however, this pita is baked in the oven. It takes a couple of days to make from start-to-finish, including the time it takes to activate the culture and make the culture proof, but it is worth it.



Khubz Arabi: Pita of the Desert

Makes: 4 Flatbreads

Adapted from: Classic Sourdoughs by Ed and Jean Wood


  • 1 cup sourdough culture (refer to process below)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon oil
  • 2 1/4 cups white Spelt flour



1) Create the Culture Proof

Begin by activating the culture and creating the culture proof. Then use the culture to make this pita bread. 



2) Mixing the Dough

Place the cup of culture in a mixing bowl and add the water, salt, and oil and mix well.  Add the flour a cup at a time until a soft dough forms.  I used a Danish dough whisk for this part.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead in enough flour until the dough is soft and pliable.  My dough was a little sticky but I didn’t want to add too much flour.  It has a long fermentation time so I figured this would give it time to develop the gluten structure.



3) Bulk Fermentation

Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Proof the dough for 8 to 12 hours at room temperature, about 70 degrees F.


4) Shaping the Pita

Gently remove the dough from the bowl to a floured surface.  Be careful not to deflate the dough too much. Divide the dough into 4 equal balls.



Roll the balls into flat rounds about 1/4-inch thick.  I placed the rounds on greased parchment paper so they wouldn’t stick too much.  Then I stacked them and placed them in a proofer box and proofed them at 85 degrees F. for 30 minutes.



When I removed the rounds from the proofer, a couple of them stuck together so I had to reshape them. The rounds that I reshaped baked (and puffed up) better than the ones that had proofed for 30 minutes in the proofer so I’m thinking the proofing box may not be necessary. I think adding a little more flour to the rounds before shaping and letting them proof for 15 to 20 minutes at a warm room temperature on the counter would suffice.


5) Baking the Pita

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. with a baking stone on the middle rack.  Use a baking peel or the back of a baking sheet to slide the rounds onto the preheated baking stone. Try not to damage the rounds when you’re transferring them to the baking stone or they may not puff up.  This happened to one of my pitas.  It made good crackers though.  Bake each round for about 5 minutes, or until they puff and start to brown. Transfer the pitas to a wire rack for cooling before serving.



This sourdough pita makes a great pocket for a light dinner or lunch. I filled it with a salad of romaine lettuce, grated carrot and red cabbage that I prepared myself – not from a bag. Then I drizzled balsamic vinegar and olive oil over it and finished it off with shaved parmesan cheese.  Yum!



I enjoyed baking with the Sourdough Surprises again this month.  Be sure to check out the February roundup of the Sourdough Flatbread Surprises.


Happy Baking!


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