Whole Living Daily

You Asked for It! Gluten-Free, Allergy-Friendly Pita Bread

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Pita bread is a perennial favorite, but thus far, nobody has come up with a gluten-free version, at least not one that I’m aware of!  Here, on my Food Allergy Recipe Challenge, I’ve been asked for the better part of a year to create a recipe, so that those on GF diets can dunk, scoop, and stuff their pita pockets along with the rest of the world.

The most recent request came from Cathy, who in addition to avoiding the top eight allergens, also must say no to corn, sesame, and oats. Now that is my kind of challenge, so this week I finally got off my duff, and created that pocket for you.

Why make your own pita bread? Well, it’s fun to make with kids (I still marvel at the magic of yeast activating the rise in fresh bread), it’s tastiest when fresh out of the oven, and this way you know exactly what ingredients went into it.

Plus, making gluten-free breads is actually easier than baking traditional wheat varieties. I know that might seem counter-intuitive, but gluten-free breads require only one rise, so the total time is halved. Gluten-free breads also don’t require any kneading---another time-saving bonus!

What would you like me to attempt for my next challenge? Remember, you can request something more than once… I plan to get to them all!

Back
1 of 8

1 The thick, sticky batter.

2 Make sure your work surface has plenty of gluten-free flour.

3 Shape the dough into one large ball.

4 Divide the ball of dough into eight pieces.

5 Pat each piece into flat circles.

6 Bake until golden before transferring to a cooling rack.

7 Letting the baked pita rest for 10 minutes allows steam to give the bread moisture.

8 Fill with fresh veggies and enjoy!

Gluten-Free Pitas

Makes 8 pita pockets

Who doesn’t love stuffing a pocket with hummus and veggies? Or dunking pita triangles? These pita pockets are delicious. Be sure to use rapid-rise yeast, and don’t rush the rise. Enjoy!

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp warm water (110°F - 115°F)

1 Tbsp sugar

1 packet rapid-rise yeast*

3 ¼ cups Gluten-Free Bread Flour Mix (my recipe follows)

3 tsp xanthan gum (Authentic Foods Xanthan Gum is corn-free)

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp plain coconut milk yogurt (So Delicious)

1 Tbsp olive oil

1. Combine warm water with sugar and rapid-rise yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Be sure your water isn’t too hot, or it will kill the yeast. Use a thermometer to guarantee it’s the right temp!) Whisk well, incorporating the yeast and dissolving the sugar. Let rest to "proof," about 5 minutes.

2. Measure the flour mix by spooning it into a dry measuring cup, then leveling with a straightedge. Combine flour mix with xanthan gum and salt, whisking well.

3. Add coconut milk yogurt and olive oil to yeast mixture. Blend on medium speed.

4. Add flour mixture to mixing bowl, and blend on low until incorporated, then medium speed until dough is thoroughly combined, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. It will be quite sticky.

5. Sprinkle a work surface amply with some GF bread flour mix. Use a rubber spatula to turn out dough onto work surface. Dust hands with a little flour mix and sprinkle dough with a bit more. Mold into a ball. Cut into quarters, then cut quarters in half, for a total of 8 pieces. Sprinkle with a little flour mix, then roll into balls.

6. Brush two baking trays with olive oil. (I use a pastry brush to be sure it’s evenly distributed.) Transfer 4 balls to each tray. Use the palm of your hand to flatten the balls into 5 1/2 –inch rounds. Use fingers to shape edges as necessary.

7. Adjust oven racks to the two lowest positions in oven. Fill a baking pan with very hot water and place on bottom of oven.

6. Cover trays with plastic wrap. Place in oven and let rise until pockets start to form, about 1 hour. You will probably want to change your hot water once halfway through.

7. Remove trays and pan of hot water from oven. Set aside.

8. Preheat oven to 500°F.

9. Bake pitas one tray at a time on lowest rack in oven until golden brown, 10 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack. They will be hard. Let rest about 10 minutes. The steam will finish the pocket-making process, and they will soften up a bit.

10. Cut pockets in half. Use a knife to separate pocket if necessary. Best when eaten fresh.

“Gluten-Free Pitas”

© 2011 by Cybele Pascal

Gluten-Free Bread Flour Mix

Makes 6 cups

1 1/2 cups millet flour

1 1/2 cups sorghum flour

2 cups tapioca starch

1 cup potato starch

1. Measure flour by spooning into a dry measuring cup, then leveling it off with a straightedge. Combine all ingredients in a gallon-size Ziploc bag. Shake until well blended. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

“Gluten-Free Bread Flour Mix” recipe reprinted with permission from The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook: How to Bake Without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, and Sesame. Copyright © 2009 by Cybele Pascal, Celestial Arts, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.

(Please note that all my recipes are completely free of all top allergens (wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, and gluten), so as many people as possible can enjoy them. Additionally, all the ingredients are available at Whole Foods, and online at Amazon.com. If you have trouble finding something, let me know and I’ll help you find it.)

SAFETY NOTE: Because each person's food sensitivity and reaction is unique, ranging from mild intolerance to life-threatening and severe food allergies, it is up to the consumer to monitor ingredients and manufacturing conditions. If manufacturing conditions, potential cross contact between foods, and ingredient derivatives pose a risk for you, please re-read all food labels and call the manufacturer to confirm potential allergen concerns beforeconsumption. Ingredients and manufacturing practices can change overnight and without warning.

Cybele Pascal is the award-winning author of "The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook" and the "Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook." She lives in Los Angeles with her food-allergic family: husband Adam, sons Lennon and Monte, and their dogs, Izzie and Carly (who also has food allergies). Please visit her website at CybelePascal.com and follow her on twitter at twitter.com/CybelePascal.

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Comments (62)

  • There are gluten-free pitas sold out of Long Island, NY and can be shipped. They're very good!

    http://www.glutenfreepitas.com/

  • I'm allergic to yeast:(

  • Dear GFPhilly:

    That's lovely looking pita. Thanks for sharing your link. I was not aware of this product. Is it sold in stores yet? It's not corn-free, which was requested for this challenge, but I will certainly order some!

    all best,

    Cybele

  • I lived in the Middle East for awhile, and I can tell you there is nothing better than freshly-baked pita bread! And now that I'm gluten-intolerant, I have not been able to enjoy any pita at all. Thank you for giving me back pita! I look forward to making this and eating it with the rest of the So Delicious coconut milk yogurt leftover from the recipe!!!!

  • WHOO! finally I love pita's. And the receipie looks easy even I could follow it. Thanks Cybele

  • These look fantastic!!

  • Thanks so much for posting this gluten-free recipe! I can't wait to try it. Look forward to more gluten-free recommendations from Whole Living!

  • I got so excited... but then got to the flour mix: I can't have three out of the four! I'm thinking of trying mung bean starch in place of potato/tapioca, but sorghum seems to be it's own thing... any thoughts?

  • Wow! This looks amazing!

  • I've been looking for a good meatloaf recipe without wheat, eggs, or dairy. I have tried many times to adapt my favorite recipe by substituting millet bread for wheat and flax for eggs, but it just does not hold together well. I've also tried using mashed potatoes for a binder with varying degress of success (tastes good, though). The same is true for meatballs - they don't hold their shape without eggs. Any good meatloaf or meatball recipes?

  • Cybele,
    I had no idea I was the last in a long line of people hungering for pita bread. Thank you soooooooooo much for meeting the challenge! I'm going to track down ingredients I don't have and try these as soon as possible!
    Is this the kind of recipe that can be doubled, or do you think it would be better to just do multiple batches? And, finally, can I freeze them? I want to be able to bake A LOT for a party, but I want to do it in advance.

  • I erroneously put a request on your facebook page, but here is challenge.....phyllo dough! Like for streudel or baklava or spanikopita, etc........mmmmm I miss that stuff, and could use it for appetizers, etc

  • Dear Ironica (love your name, by the way!)

    I have never baked with mung bean starch, so really can't speak to it. Does anyone else here know anything about it? So sorry. I fear this recipe is not for you. I'm thinking it's time for me to come up with a new bread flour mix, though, so hopefully I'll have something bready you can try soon. Sometimes I like to use amaranth in place of sorghum, if that helps.

    Have a great weekend. Also, check out the link above to the gf pitas you can mail order. Though they have rice and corn.. can you eat that?

    all best,

    Cybele

  • Margie, I will do your meatballs for my next challenge. Look for it the week after next!

    THanks!

    cybele

  • Hi Cathy:

    Happy to have your inspiration. Yes you can double the recipe. However, please note these are best the day they are made. There are several things I'd like to stress for all about this recipe. First: USE RAPID RISE YEAST. Also known as quick rise. Do not use regular old yeast. Second, do not rush the rise process. Make sure that the pockets are beginning to show bubbles, or a "puff" Third, when they first come out of the oven, they will be hard. They will soften up after about 10 minutes of resting on the cooling rack. The steam helps soften them, and also helps to form that pocket. IF when you cut them in half, the pocket does not fully separate, then use a knife to coax it along (i often do this with store-bought pitas). Re freezing, I don't know, i haven't tried it. Give it a test run (i will too) But as mentioned, these are best when eaten fresh, the day of baking. Remember, they are totally free of any additives, natural or otherwise, that extend shelf life in store bought breads. And like all fresh baked bread, they'll get stale. Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any further questions.

    all best,

    Cybele
    Cybele

  • Cybele,

    Thanks for accepting my meatball challenge. I am so looking forward to them!

  • Cybele
    if you don't like my other challenges (lol) how bout a good kugel recipe? Mine all call for cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, butter and of course refined sugar and wheat noodles! Is there to make one dairy, gluten, and soy free?????
    Melissa

  • And samosas! I love Indian and your chicken tenders are so amazing, I'd love another fried dish!

  • [...] cooking guru, Cybele Pascal, has mastered GF & allergen-free pita bread via Whole Living Magazines’ [...]

  • Hi Cybele
    I am going for those Pitas tomorrow. Just a quick question; is the secret to softness and playability the "resting" portion of this on the cooling rack? And if so, do they need to be covered or just open-air cooling (uncovered).

  • Thank you Cybele! As usual, it looks like a really good idea! I am looking forward to this one, because it means I can have sandwiches! LOL

  • Hi Margie:

    No problem! My pleasure. I love meatballs, so i will enjoy making AND eating them.

    all best, till next week.

    Cybele

  • Melissa, I like all your challenges! I try to get to all the requests over time... though not everything is possible. Not sure about the phyllo. Does anyone know of any such recipe anywhere? Maybe Annalise Roberts has one in the works, but she uses dairy and eggs ( I consider her the guru of gf baking).

    I LOVE the kugel challenge. Stay posted.

    best,
    Cybele

  • ps... samosas is also a great request. I've been asked to do perogies on here, maybe I can do a samosa perogies post. Dumplings.... pending.

  • Hi Paul:

    Thanks for the question! Yes, by letting them rest on the cooling rack, they will become soft and playable. I don't bother covering them, as the steam from inside the bread works it way out to the surface. I like a certain amount of firmness to remain, but you could certainly try covering them with a clean kitchen towel, if you want them even softer.

    Hope that helps!

    Cybele

  • I'm thinking of doing a video of this recipe? Would people like that? I think it would be helpful, as there are many variables, and seeing them in a visual tutorial would help guide you through.

    Here are some more helpful troubleshooting hints. I got an email, asking for advice, but I'm going to answer here, so everyone benefits.

    Use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.

    Use rapid rise yeast. This is not the same thing as "Active Dry" yeast. Rapid Rise yeast only requires one rise, which is all a gf dough can really handle. This recipes timing is based on using RAPID RISE yeast. I like good old Fleischmann's. It is highly active yeast.

    Use a thermometer to be sure your water is 110-115F.

    Be sure your yeast has "proofed". This looks like 'foaming" If it hasn't, the bread won't rise.

    Aerate your flour mix, by shaking it up, or tossing it well. You want it light. When you measure, do not scoop the flour with the measuring cup. Spoon it into your dry measuring cups. then level with a straightedge.

    Your dough should be wet and sticky. If it's not, you need to add a little more warm water, a tiny bit at a time.

    Your dough should be very playable. When you press it out onto the baking trays, it should be very soft and easy to work with. See the pics above.

    Be sure to add really hot water to the pan in the oven, while the pockets are rising. The pockets will just about double in thickness for their rise.

    Be sure your oven is the right temp.

    Bake and enjoy!

    Please email me at allergycookbook@gmail.com if you have more questions, or leave a comment here.

  • I made these pitas a couple of days ago and they were incredible! Our family loves to eat Greek Chicken Gyros which we haven't been able to do with all of our allergies. (Gyros just don't taste the same without pitas!) Mine did not form pockets because a)I was in a hurry and didn't let them rise long enough and b)I didn't use rapid rise yeast--didn't have any on hand. But my family ate them as flat bread and it worked out great! They were soft, slightly chewy without being crumbly and just had a great taste. The recipe was extremely easy to follow and they went together very quickly. THANK YOU AGAIN!!

  • [...] GLUTEN-FREE  ALLERGY-FRIENDLY PITA at Martha Stewart’s Whole Living Daily! Check it out! [...]

  • I am allergis to dairy, wheat,chocolate,nuts and soy as well as an imbalance in my sugar. I have a recipe for rice cookies (plain) and rice muffins (with 3 kinds of fruit added). Do you have any SIMPLE recipes for desserts that would accomodate these allergies? Can I have carob?
    Thanks a lot for your entries on my facebook and for your help.

  • OK...I'll go for it... We would love to try some donut muffins. Possibly made in little muffin pans to be more like small donut holes. My kids love donuts, but making them takes forever. Can we make them allergen and GF safe and quicker than making regular donuts?

  • Hi Cybele, would love to try donut muffins sans gluten, dairy, soy and corn?

  • AFTER you pretty please do a post on donut muffins - is it possible to do one on a good gluten free version of a flour tortilla? I looked through the archives and did not see one - would really like a good recipe to try.

  • Great recipe! Thanks so much. This is the kind of stuff I want to see!

  • Oh Cybele, this is great!!

  • I would love to see some donut muffins right after I see you figure out how to do BAGELS. Gee, I coulda swore I've asked for those before but I'm probably the majority of one here. Pita is good though. Pita is great, wonderful and fantastic though and the little tips section was even better.
    I'm going to look for phyllo. I'm pretty sure there's a recipe for croissant over at Better Batter Flour's website which is kinda sorta like it.
    But geez, donut muffins, I've been looking at trying to convert those for two years but I'm afraid I'll eat them all, have to make another batch and eat those too. Sometimes I think I see a hint of horns holding up your halo. ROFL

  • This might be a good starting point for phyllo. You'd obviously have to replace the butter and yogurt with non-dairy and not use the egg wash but other than that it looks like it may actually work. Good luck.
    http://glutenfreerecipebox.com/gluten-free-pyllo-dough

  • Laurel, that is too funny!!!! Hint of horns holding up my halo! Can I quote you on that???

  • Susan H:

    THanks for your request. I did a gfree flour tortilla awhile back here on Whole Living Daily. See here: http://wholelivingdaily.wholeliving.com/2010/05/gluten-free-flour-tortillas-food-allergy-recipe-challenge-2.html

    Hope you enjoy it! Let me know if you have any questions.

    cybele

  • Jinger, Yay!!! So happy you enjoyed this recipe.

  • I am so very excited for all the Donut Muffin requests. After meatballs, I will do donut muffins! And I have not forgotten the Kugel request, nor the samosas...

  • Hi Colleen:

    I would check with your allergist before trying carob, since you are allergic to chocolate... carob is also a bean.http://www.living-foods.com/articles/rawcarob.html I am curious, you mention recipes using rice flour. Is this the only grain you can have? From your list of allergies, that you mention above, it seems you can eat many of the desserts in my cookbook The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook, particularly those made with agave. Additionally, watch out for a new sunbutter cookie recipe I'll be posting at my blog this coming week using agave @ http://www.cybelepascal.com Thanks for your request.

    Cybele

  • Yeah I found the Kombu! Thanks so much Laurel for the phyllo dough starter and Cybele, I have had some success with your yogurt (coco milk) and the cream from the top of a can of coconut milk and some mashed banana as a binder (I'm sugar free too), but I know I'm getting closer.....just call me Cybele Pascalowitz. I love the bagel idea as well!

  • Food challenge idea.... I would love a gluten free, egg free recipe for Gnocchi! Since I can't find a GF ravioli (recipe or pre made), I thought this might be a good substitute! I am looking forward to the meatloaf recipe in teh mean time!! Thanks!1

  • Your pitas sound amazing! In Chicago, we get great GF pitas from Rose's Wheat Free Bakery. http://www.roseswheatfreebakery.com I had one of Rose's left over at a Moroccan restaurant and overheard another diner say that she was GF. I bestowed upon her my leftover pita and she almost started to cry.

    Nothing like a great GF pita to bring tears to your eyes!

  • Last one, I'm annoying myself now. Here's a challenge that only the queen Cybele Pascal could even attempt...(a little sucking up can't hurt, right?) A real Challah bread. I know I'm heavy on the Jewish cuisine requests, but I feel left out at every holiday and make challahs for everyone but me and can't ever eat any of the goodies:( I bake Challahs regularly with my older daughter on Friday nights and I would love to eat them with her too. I even made matzoh baklava last year by soaking the matzoh for a day until it worked like phyllo and I couldn't even try it. Anyway, thanks Melissa

  • I am adding my vote for gnocchi. Great idea, Ann!

  • I FOUND the KOMBU!!!!! 7 stores later...5 of which I couldn't call because noone spoke English at the Asian markets I tried near my house. The first 2 whole foods I called were a "no" but #3 had the Kombu an I made the sauce and it was soooooooooooooo worth the effort:) Dinner for tomorrow is well under way.

  • I FOUND the KOMBU!!!!! 7 stores later...5 of which I couldn't call because noone spoke English at the Asian markets I tried near my house. The first 2 whole foods I called were a "no" but #3 had the Kombu an I made the sauce and it was soooooooooooooo worth the effort:) Dinner for tomorrow is well under way. Oh and I have been using coconut BUTTER in place of butter in recipes that call for shortening and butter and it seems to be working OK and a little richer and thicker than the oil, any suggestions on that?

  • Great post! Thanks. Another recipe for a gluten free allergy!

  • Oh my god, this was delicious. And the help you have offered in these comments is so nice! Just last week I used the potato-mushroom tart that was featured on this site, and it was not a good experience. But now I think my faith has been restored!

  • Thanks Yvette, for the vote of confidence. I'm really happy you liked the recipe, and that the comments were helpful. Bread baking can be so frustrating, without proper guidance.

    best,

    Cybele

  • [...] when Margie requested gluten-free, allergy-free meatballs or meatloaf on my Food Allergy Recipe Challenge last [...]

  • How about allergy free, gluten free pretzels? Most of the ones I see are with egg or soy :(

  • Hi Lori:

    Are the glutino pretzels made with soy? What about the Ener-G? I need to check them. Meanwhile, your request has been added to the pot.

    thanks!
    cybele

  • Cybele,
    The pitas were awesome! I love that not only do they taste delicious, but they're made with whole flours!
    I'm wondering if you can freeze the dough...or the pitas? We have half of them left over and it seems like the breads need to be eaten soon to stay tasty.

    Maybe I could freeze the dough balls or discs?

    Thanks I love all your recipes!

  • [...] was high time I baked up an allergy-free version to see what the fuss was all about. And thanks to all those who requested I do so. My curiosity is satisfied, and they are that good! Back Next 1 of [...]

  • [...] Kugel usually contains eggs and gluten. I wanted to avoid both. So I took on the challenge from Melissa, who asked for a gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free Kugel [...]

  • [...] things are not meant to be.” I took that as a challenge I had to meet, and decided to accept Melissa’s request from several weeks ago to make an Allergy-Free Noodle Kugel. Two weeks ago, I came up with a [...]

  • I have allergies and intolerances. I would like to have a bread recipe one with yeast and one without yeast or baking powder. I am not able to eat the following:
    gluten, potatoes, corn, rice, soy, baking powder, tomato, eggplant, cucumber, apple, melon, orange, dairy, tree nuts, peanuts and coconut. I have to limit my use of fava bean flour. So far I can eat chickpea flour, eggs, hemp milk, lemon juice and I use Smart Balance.
    Thank you
    Susan

  • I am going to try without yeast and see what happens! Hope something does :)

  • Thank you for doing all the experimenting on gf recipes -- i have not baked gf despite being an avid baker my whole life because as the only celiac in the house, i don't feel justified in spending all that time and money... but i do get tired of eating rice cakes as my 'bread'. What i crave is a gluten free vegan scone i used to buy at pcc in Seattle, but could never get the recipe for! pumpkin, no processed sugar, no nuts, no added fat -- and amazing. They also made an apple raisin version. all the vegan scone recipes i see use margarine, or, lately, coconut fat -- but i don't want to create an unhealthy fat-bomb either! Can you help?

  • I cannot have coconut. Could I substitute regular milk yogurt?

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