Homemade Pita Beer Bread
Mediterranean cuisine is full of bright and bold flavors: lemon, garlic, herbs, yogurt, beans, grains, and vegetables. These diverse regional ingredients pair exceptionally well with hoppy beers, which enhance those herbal Mediterranean flavors. Try making this very easy Homemade Pita Beer Bread, add some delicious and creamy Beer Hummus, then stuff with Za’atar Roasted Eggplant, roasted asparagus and harissa sauce, maybe some crumbled feta cheese, marinated artichoke hearts and | or marinated chicken, lamb, fish or shellfish to make a flavorful and healthy Mediterranean sandwich. From sandwiches and salads to side dishes and entrees, the building blocks are yours to embellish with this pita bread recipe.
What is Homemade Pita Beer Bread?
Pita bread is a yeast-leavened bread found in the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Arabic regions. This flatbread is very unique; as it cooks, it puffs up, from cooking in a high heat oven, creating steam, blowing up the dough into a pillow, resulting in a finished pocket when cut in half. Pita dates back to the 14th century, made with different cereal grains, in wood-fired ovens.
With any bread, flour is needed. This recipe uses a few different flours to increase the flavor, nutrients, and texture of the final bread. I suggest using organic flour when at all possible. A freshly milled flour is also richer in flavor, vitamins and will result in the best final texture for bread making. I am a huge fan of Central Milling, as they are local to me. I first use a Bread Flour with a high protein level to help create a good amount of gluten, giving the Homemade Pita Beer Bread a good chew. I also add Whole Wheat Flour for the color and wheat germ, giving more nutrients than a plain white all-purpose flour. I then use a smaller proportion of Barley Flour that adds an almost nutty flavor, some more beer flavor, and texture. To round out all the flours, I use an ingredient that is used in many Indian breads | crackers, besin flour, or garbanzo bean flour (chickpea) flour. The ratio of these flours gives the finished pita a tender chew, a nutty flavor, and a perfect puff or balloon effect when baking.
To start the yeast off, I also use a Liquid Malt Extract, also called LME in the homebrewing world. This ingredient is also available in most grocery stores, called Pale Malt Extract or Malt Barley Syrup by Eden Foods. This reduced and concentrated wort is made from malted barley mixed with water, mashed to convert the starches into sugars, much like the beginning of any homebrew beer recipe. This Liquid Malt Extract is a wonderful sugar replacement for making loaves of bread, bagels, flatbread, and more. I have another recipe that uses this ingredient and mixes it with maple syrup to make Barley Malt Maple Syrup, perfect for pancakes or waffles. Traditionally honey was used to feed the yeast. I find using barley malt along with the barley flour, creates more beer eccentric flavors that are enhanced when pairing beer with this recipe, after its made.
Most of the liquid for this pita recipe used the Baking with Beer | Cooking with Beer philosophy; using a supportive beer to add malt flavors to the finished bread. I suggest using malt-forward beer styles like an American Brown Ale, English Old Ale or Scotch Ale | Wee Heavy, all adding richness,
Homemade Pita Beer Bread can also be used in so many ways. I love using this recipe with Middle Eastern Falafel, some more Beer Hummus, mixed greens or baby spinach leaves, and a drizzle of Tahini Orange Brown Ale Sauce for a vegetarian | vegan falafel sandwich to die for. Try making some Homemade Za’atar and mixing equal portions with extra virgin olive oil, to make a dip for the pita. To make Pita Chips, cut the pita into 1/6th wedges, brush with garlic-infused olive oil and bake them in a 425°F | 218°C until crisp. Make my recipe for Homemade Gyro Meat to create The Ultimate Gyro Sandwich! Or serve these pitas with Chicken & Turkey Köfte with IPA or Turkish Lamb Köfte with Stout for a Turkish style sandwich.
As fresh pita bread isn’t always easy to find, with this recipe it’s very easy and satisfying to make at home.
Makes: 8 pitas
Adapted from BeerAdvocate Magazine: Cuisine à la Bière | Jun 2013 | Issue #77
|8 each||15 minute|
|Cook Time||Passive Time|
|5 minute||2 hour|
Homemade Pita Beer Bread uses a malt forward brew, kneaded with a four flour blend to create a tender, puffy and full of flavor Mediterranean bread.
- 1/4 cup water heated to 120°F | 49°C
- 1 tablespoon malt barley syrup (LME) such as Pale Malt Extract or Eden Foods, Malt Barley Organic
- 1 teaspoon yeast, instant
- 1 cup beer, such as American Brown Ale, English Old Ale or Scotch Ale | Wee Heavy
- 1 cup flour, bread such as Central Milling 100% Organic Artisan Bread Flour
- 1 cup flour, whole wheat, such as Central Milling 100% Organic Whole Wheat Flour
- 1/2 cup flour, barley such as Organic Black Nile Barley Flour
- 1/2 cup flour, garbanzo bean sometimes called besin or Chickpea Flour
- 2 tablespoon oil, olive
- 2 teaspoon salt, kosher
- extra flour for dusting | kneading | rolling
- Fill a liquid measuring cup with the 120°F | 49°C hot water and stir in the barley malt syrup to combine. Add the yeast and stir again, letting the yeast re-hydrate and become active. Let this mixture sit for 5 - 10 minutes until the yeast starts to foam. Have your beer picked out and at room temperature, so as not to slow down the fermentation process of the bread making.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the yeast mixture and the beer. Measure out the flours into the bowl, and add the olive oil and salt. Fit the mixer with a dough hook and on low speed, let the ingredients combine to become a dough, about 5 minutes. The dough shouldn’t be too sticky or wet, nor to dry. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes with the mixer off, and then continue to knead the dough for another 5 minutes on low. (Allowing the dough to rest and then re-kneading it will help it to develop more gluten from the flour.) Remove the dough (forming it into a large round ball) and place it into a medium-sized bowl lightly coated with olive oil; turn to evenly coat the ball with the oil. Cover the bowl with a damp hot kitchen towel and place in a warm (70°F | 21°C-80°F 27°C) area for about an hour to one and half hours to rise.
- The dough is ready when it deflates slightly at the touch, but doesn’t bounce right back. Weigh the dough and divide it into 8 equal-sized rounds. (This recipe yields about one 800-gram ball, making the individual pitas 100 grams each.) Using the palm of the hand, place the round ball of dough onto a work surface and pressing somewhat firmly, in several circular motions, creating a round ball of dough that is smooth and has no creases. If the dough is sticky, add a touch of flour to the work surface. Place onto a sheet tray and repeat with the remaining dough. Cover the dough balls with a damp towel and let rise again for 30 minutes.
- As the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 475°F | 246°C for a good 30 - 60 minutes prior to baking. Use a Pizza Stone or Steel Baking Plate to cook the pita bread on, or if you do not have a baking stone, use a cast iron skillet or griddle, placed in the oven to preheat.
- The high oven temperature is one of the keys to open that pocket, as the liquid creates steam, that puffs the pita. Using baking steel or stone adds thermal mass, using radiant heat to cook the flatbread quickly.
- Have a small bowl of flour ready, along with a rolling pin. When the dough is ready, place a dough round into the flour bowl, coating lightly on all sides, shaking off any excess flour. Place in the center of the work surface and press down with your fingertips to flatten the dough out and remove most of the CO2 (from the rising), forming a round circle.
- Next, using the rolling pin, or a 22 beer bottle, roll the dough out into a 7- to 8-inch circle. Roll one side, then flip the dough, rotate 90 degrees, and roll again. The dough should be rolled out to about 1/8 of an inch thick. The thickness is another trick to get the pita flatbread to cook quickly, creating that steam. Move to the side of the workspace and roll out another dough round.
- Set a timer for 3 minutes, quickly open the oven door, spritz the inside of the oven with a spray bottle filled with water, place a rolled-out pita dough onto the baking stone or cast-iron skillet in a single layer, and close the door. As the dough bakes, it will puff up and form slightly dry skin, but should not become dark brown, which will result in a dry and over-baked pita. Remove from the oven with tongs.
- Place the cooked pita on a clean towel, covering to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining dough. Serve the pita as soon as possible, or let cool completely and then store in a large plastic bag to prevent drying out. The pita may also be frozen.
Homemade Pita Beer Bread Variations:
• If barley and garbanzo flours are hard to find, substitute 1 1/2 cups each of bread and whole wheat flour. The finished texture will be different, still very good.
• To make pita chips, let the pitas cool, then cut the cooked pita into eighths and lightly brush each with olive oil, sprinkling with a little kosher salt. Arrange in a single layer in the oven and bake (425°F | 218°C) for about 8 – 10 minutes, until crispy and golden brown. Allow to cool, and serve with the Beer Hummus, Baba Ghanoush, or any other Mediterranean-type dip.