"I took a ten-minute break to wallow in my failure then returned to the grill—but those ten minutes made all the puffy difference."
Given my rough relationship with bread-making, I had little hope that grilling pita pockets would yield the proper results. But since I'm not one to shy away from a challenge—and determined to take the upper hand in my battle with breads—I ventured forth in a quest to grill delicious pocket pitas.
I made a switch to instant yeast, taking improper proofing out of the equation for failure, and mixed it with flour, salt, oil, and water, letting it knead for 10 minutes in the KitchenAid. Then the dough went into the fridge to rise overnight. I checked on it after an hour and it was already rising. (Hurray!)
The next day, I divided the dough, let is rest while I prepared the grill, then rolled them into rather imperfect rounds one-fourth of an inch thick. Before throwing the dough on the grill, I gave each disc a few mists of water to add some moisture, hoping to create the air bubbles needed to form the pocket.
The first few pitas didn't puff, and although delicious, I was feeling a little dejected.
I took a ten-minute break to wallow in my failure then returned to the grill—but those ten minutes made all the puffy difference. Magically, the next few pitas puffed up beautifully. In that time away, the grill dropped from about medium-high to medium, which was all they needed to become perfect pita pockets.
Grilled Pocket Pitas
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.
- 3 cups plus a scant 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (16 oz./454 grams)
- 2 teaspoons salt (1/2 oz./13.2 grams)
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast (6.4 grams)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (1 oz./27 grams)
- 1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature (10.4 oz./295 grams)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients. With the paddle attachment, mix on low speed just until all the flour is moistened, about 20 seconds. Change to the dough hook, raise the speed to medium, and knead for 10 minutes. The dough should clean the bowl and be very soft and smooth and just a little sticky to the touch. Add a little flour or water if necessary. (The dough will weigh about 27.75 oz./793 grams.)
Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, scrape the dough into a 2-quart or larger dough-rising container or bowl, lightly greased with cooking spray or oil. Press the dough down and lightly spray or oil the top of it. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. With a piece of tape, mark the side of the container at approximately where double the height of the dough would be. Refrigerate the dough overnight (or up to 3 days), checking every hour for the first 4 hours and pressing it down if it starts to rise.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. While the charcoal is lighting, cut the dough into 8 or 12 pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the rest covered with a damp cloth. On a lightly floured counter, with lightly floured hands, shape each piece into a ball and then flatten it into a disk. Cover the dough with oiled plastic and allow it to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.
When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread coals evenly over the charcoal grate. Clean and oil the cooking grate. Let the charcoal sit until it drops in temperature to medium heat. While waiting, roll each disk into a circle a little under 1/4 inch thick. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes before grilling.
Right before placing the dough on the grill, give each disc a few mists of water from a spray bottle on both sides. Place the dough on the grill and cook until it starts to bubble, about 1 minute. Flip the dough and cook until it puffs and is cooked through, but not browned, about 2 minutes more. Remove from the grill and let cool. Reheat quickly on the grill before serving.