Homemade Traditional Greek Pita Bread for Souvlaki (step by step)
Saying that this January was weird is definitely an understatement. We are talking about a heavy snow storm that hit Evia island and Athens late this month.
We had snowfalls before but this time there were lightning and thunders along with it. And this is quite strange (for Greek standards!). It also caused a mess in the capital.
And a funny thing… we had this wild craving for souvlaki. Yes, we know; just right when you can’t go to the nearest souvlaki place! However, we had pork skewers in the freezer, tomatoes, onions, parsley, Greek yogurt AND a cucumber (for the tzatziki).
All the components were in place except the Greek pita bread. Would that stop the process? No way! We made our own pita breads. They turned out amazing and today we’ll share the recipe with you.
The Greek pita bread (or as we call it here in Greece “pita gia souvlaki”, meaning pita for souvlaki), is a flatbread that looks like an Arabic pita bread but leavened and with relatively neutral taste. There are some who add oregano or thyme in the dough but we strongly believe that since the use of the pita bread is of an auxiliary use when enjoying souvlaki, then it needs to more neutral in flavor.
The ingredients of the Greek pita bread and the process of making it, is similar with the rest of the flatbreads that we know. Like in the Cypriot pita bread (you know the one with the pocket… that you stuff goodies in it… yeap! That one!), the Lebanese pita bread, the Naan bread and so on.
The difference in this Greek pita bread recipe is that it contains milk. Some only use water but we prefer using milk as well. It makes the pita bread softer and more flexible. It’s easier to wrap things with it ;)
You can make a whole wheat Greek pita bread if you like. Just replace some of the bread flour with whole wheat flour (a ratio of 400g/14oz bread flour to 100g/3.5oz whole wheat flour). In that case you will have to adjust the liquids accordingly of course.
Some of you will ask (and rightfully so) why even bother to take the time to make a homemade Greek pita bread when there are so many in the shelves of groceries stores and supermarkets. Well, a homemade is far tastier AND it’s healthier. Once you get the hang of it, you can make batches and store them in the freezer so you can always have some!
Using a Greek pita bread
So, what can you do with Greek pita breads? Well you can make a Greek souvlaki wrap with it. (Keep reading because at the end we will tell you how to make a souvlaki look like a proper Greek souvlaki). Or cut it in triangles, and scoop some very delicious spreads with them.
You can find some very delicious and creamy ones in the blog: Like the whipped feta spread, the spicy hummus and the eggplant spread (melitzanosalata) Or… (you will love this one!) you can cut the pita breads in triangles, slightly oil their surface, sprinkle salt and smoked paprika and broil them. Your Greek pita bread chips are ready. Thinking of Super Bowl?
Greek pita bread is the perfect companion to any appetizer. So, you also can check our appetizer section. There are many recipes there to enjoy; and some of them are your favorite ones in this blog.
The Greek souvlaki
We simply couldn’t but write about the Greek souvlaki. We have a whole article about the history of souvlaki that we know you will find interesting.
It’s Greece’s No1 street food; and making it at home is very special. This is why every time we make souvlaki, we love sharing it with family and friends. It’s sort of a comfort food happening.
So, without further ado, here is how to assemble a proper Greek traditional souvlaki at home:
1. Take one warm (or slightly broiled) pitta bread and place it on a similar sized foil or parchment
2. Spread a heaping tablespoon (or more if you like) of tzatziki in the middle of the pitta bread
3. Remove the grilled pork from the skewer and add it on top of the tzatziki (check out the photo below)
4. Add some thinly sliced tomatoes, thinly sliced onions and chopped fresh parsley
5. Season with salt and paprika.
6. Fold the pitta bread tight with the help of the foil (or parchment) to hold everything together
Your souvlaki is ready.
If wrapping a souvlaki is giving you a hard time, then simply add all of the above on top of a pita bread and enjoy it with a fork and a knife. It will be a delicious souvlaki plate.
You can do the same thing with grilled chicken skewers, although the sauce in this case would be a mustard-based sauce and NOT tzatziki.
If you are vegetarian you can also wrap grilled veggies (seasoned with a bit of smoked paprika, minced garlic and balsamic vinegar). We tried it and it tastes amazing!
Well, friends? What do you say? Ready for homemade, soft Greek pita bread?
For 8 pita breads
- 500g (17.6oz / 3cups) bread flour
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 9g (3tsp) dry yeast
- 1 cup (250ml) full fat milk*, lukewarm
- 1/2 cup (125ml) water*, lukewarm
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
*The milk and the water should be lukewarm. To check it you can place the tip of your finger in the liquid. If you don’t feel it cold or hot, then it is at the right temperature.
To activate the yeast
Add the milk into jug or a bowl (we use a tall plastic jug for such cases, like in pic.1). Then add the water (pic.2)
Add the sugar (pic.3) and the yeast (pic.4)
Whisk (pic.5) and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
For the dough
Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the salt (pic.6) and the olive oil (pic.7).
Slowly add the milk-yeast mixture (pic.8) into the bowl. Make sure that all the yeast is added into the flour mixture. Start mixing everything together with a spatula (pic.9). Don’t add extra flour if it seems sticky at first.
When the dough starts to thicken use your hands (pic.10-11), and fold / knead for 5 minutes.
When the dough is soft and elastic (pic.12), slightly oil the bowl (pic.13).
Place the dough back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a towel (pic.14). Let it proof for about 1 hour, to double in size (pic. 15).
After an hour punch down the dough (pic.16) and shape into a loaf/log. Cut the loaf in half (pic.17).
Then cut those halves into quarters (pic.18) and the quarters in eights (pic.19). This would make you 8 strips of dough (113g / 4oz each).
Make the strips into balls by slightly swirling the dough on your working surface (pic.20). Cover the balls with plastic wrap and a towel (pic.21).
Let it rest for a second time, for 15 minutes.
Using a rolling pin, shape the pita bread (pic.22). Each of one should be approximately 18cm / 7in in diameter and 3mm / 1/8in thick (pic.23).
Heat a medium-sized non-stick pan (or a griddle pan) on medium heat and place the pita bread. Pierce the surface with a fork (pic.24). This will prevent the pita from expanding and creating large bubbles. Cook the pita bread on medium-low for 2 minutes per side (pic.25).
Cover the pita bread you make with a towel (pic.26) to keep them warm if you intent to use them right away. If not, let them cool completely and then place them in an air tight container (or Ziploc bags) and store them in the freezer.
Enjoy them with your favorite spreads or make souvlaki wraps! Kali Oreksi!
1. You can make the pita bread dairy free. Just replace the milk with water.
2. The pita breads can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. If you want to use them, remove the amount of pita bread you want to use and reheat them directly in a non-stick pan in medium heat for 2 minutes per side; you don’t need to thaw.
3. Beside using the Greek pita bread for souvlaki, you can cut it in triangles, slightly oil their surface, sprinkle salt and smoked paprika and broil them. Greek pita bread chips are perfect as an easy snack or with some spreads on the side. They are perfect for events like the Super Bowl!
4. You can also make whole wheat flour pita breads. Just replace some of the bread flour with whole wheat flour (a ratio of 400g/14oz bread flour to 100g/3.5oz whole wheat flour). In that case you will have to adjust the liquids accordingly.