A recipe for classic pita from scratch

It's been about a year-long love affair, between me and pita. Those warm, fluffy pockets of round breads that can be stuffed, smeared with toppings, or drizzled with olive oil and a boat load of Everything Bagel Seasoning. I adore it, in all of its many bready forms.  

As with most bread products you can make in your own kitchen, making pita is surprisingly straightforward. It's also just straight-up magic. After a dozen batches, I still don't fully understand how it puffs up and forms the pocket that is so crucial to good pita. 

And the flavor is shockingly fresh compared to the processed kind you buy in the store. 

Homemade Pita

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
½ teaspoon sugar
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine yeast and water in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar and let that sit until it is kind of bubbly and frothy. This is a standard way to get yeast started for most bread products.

Add flour, salt and olive oil. Stir until you've got a shaggy ball of dough, then turn the dough out onto the counter and knead for about 2 minutes. At this point, it should be smooth.

Clean the mixing bowl, coat it with more olive oil, and put the dough back in it. Cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel, and let the bowl sit in a warm place for about an hour. (Room temperature is also fine, but heat helps the dough rise.) It should double in size.

After that time (you can also let the dough sit for much longer, if needed), punch down the dough, divide into 8 equal pieces, and form each piece into a ball. Place on a heavy-duty baking sheet covered in parchment paper and cover with the damp towel again. Let rise for 10 minutes, then form into flat, pitalike circles. Make them pretty thin.

Place the circles on the baking sheet (as many as will fit; you will likely need to repeat the process more than once) and bake in a 500-degree oven for 5 minutes. Pitas should puff up and become slightly crispy. Serve immediately or let cool and refrigerate, then rewarm in a 350-degree oven before serving.