Delicious tangy sourdough flatbreads aren’t at all difficult to make. You can use the same dough to make tortilla style flatbreads cooked on the stove or pitta breads baked in the oven. Both have great texture and flavour and the pitta pockets open up beautifully.
If you have a sourdough starter, you can make these flatbreads or pitta breads. They’re a lot easier than you might think. If you don’t have a starter, why not get one or even make your own. It’s such a useful ingredient to have to hand. You will never be dependent on baker’s yeast for your homemade bread again.
I have a rye sourdough starter which I use it to make all sorts of breads, including rye sourdough. It’s a really easy one to look after as it doesn’t need constant feeding. Mine can sit neglected in the fridge for a month at a time and when I finally get it out to use, it’s absolutely fine. I highly recommend it.
Why Make Sourdough Flatbreads?
Flatbreads are just brilliant for wraps, dipping, mopping up and so much more. You can make quesadillas with them and the dough makes a perfect pizza base too.
Sourdough flatbreads are kinder on the gut than any other sort due to the fermentation process. There are various reasons for this but apparently some of the gluten found in wheat is degraded by the process, which means that some people who are sensitive to gluten find they can tolerate sourdough. There are wild yeasts and lactobacillus in the leaven which neutralise phytic acid and thus helps us absorb the nutrients found in wheat and other flours. I could go on, but there are far more authoritative sources on the health benefits of sourdough than me.
There’s nothing quite as good as the smell of freshly baked bread and the scent lingers in our house for some considerable time. I love it. Sourdough flatbreads taste particularly good, due to the slight sourness from the lactobacillus and the flavours brought forward by the fermentation process. They really are delicious.
Sourdough flatbreads generally keep better than other types, which makes them ideal for lunch boxes. Both flatbreads and pittas freeze well so you can make them ahead of time and thaw as you need them.
How to Make Sourdough Flatbreads
It’s easy to make sourdough flatbread, but it’s not quick. You need time for the fermentation process to work. Typically, it’s best to refresh your sourdough starter overnight. Once you’ve safely stored your refreshed starter back in the fridge, you can use the excess to make tortilla type wraps or pitta pockets. Here’s how.
Add a mix of half strong wholemeal flour and half strong white bread flour to the starter along with a little salt and olive oil. Then it’s just a case of kneading the bread and letting it ferment for a couple of hours.
These days I use a stand mixer to knead my bread, but before I had one, I used to do it by hand. Either way is absolutely fine. If you’re using a stand mixer, knead for about six minutes. But if you knead by hand it will take about ten minutes. Place the bowl in a plastic bag or cover with a plate or tea towel. This keeps it from drying out and protects from draughts. Leave to rise at room temperature for at least an hour, but two is better.
Divide the mixture into sixteen balls and roll them on a floured board as required. For a tortilla style flatbread, you want to roll them into thin round disks that will fit your frying pan or hot plate. A diameter of eighteen centimetres is about right. Roll from the middle to the edges and turn the dough as your roll to get a good circle shape. Pitta bread needs to be smaller and a bit thicker.
Cooking time will depend on whether you’re baking pitta pockets or cooking tortilla style breads on the stove top. The pittas can all be baked at once in the oven and as they only take between five to eight minutes, they’re very quick. But wraps have to be cooked one by one, so they take a fair bit longer.
For tortillas, place one on the hot pan and bake for two to three minutes or until the bread has puffed up a little and the bottom looks cooked. It should be covered with a few brown or even charred spots. Flip and cook the other side for a couple of minutes. Wrap in a tea towel to keep warm and repeat with the remaining flatbreads. It’s easiest to roll the second one as you cook the first one and so on. You’re less likely to run out of space that way and you’ll speed up the process too.
What is Pitta Bread
Pitta bread is a Middle Eastern flatbread which is baked so that the middle opens out to form a pocket. You may hear them referred to as pitta pockets. They’re also spelled pita bread in the US. They’re not a PITA to make though.
Lay them on a hot baking tray and bake for five to eight minutes or until they just start to colour. They will puff up like a doughy version of a puffer fish. Be careful not to over bake though as they should be firm but still soft.
If you’re not eating them right away, cover them with a clean cloth whilst they cool. Pitta breads can dry out very quickly but covering them will help keep them soft and pliable. Once cool, store in a plastic bag at room temperature. They’ll keep soft for a couple of days.
If you want to keep your pittas for longer, freeze them on the day of baking. Stack a few up in a freezer bag and stick them in the freezer. They’ll keep well for up to a month. When you’re ready to eat them, take them out of the freezer and let them thaw completely in the bag before opening.
You can warm them up in a toaster or pop them back into a hot oven for a couple of minutes.
If you don’t have a sourdough starter but want to make pitta bread, you can try this recipe for spelt pitta breads which are made with yeast. I made these with added cocoa back in the old Chocolate Log Blog days. The cocoa works really well, but if you don’t like the sound of it, just leave it out.
How Do You Eat Pitta Bread?
Although flatbreads keep well for a couple of days, they’re at their best served warm on the day you cook them.
Pitta pockets are just perfect for stuffing with your favourite fillings. Slice along one side to open up the pocket or cut in half to make two smaller more manageable pockets. Then load them with your favourite fillings.
Falafel, salad and tahini sauce is a classic and one that I’ve enjoyed many a time in Egypt. You can also stuff pitta breads with halloumi kababs to make Greek souvlaki or try a vegan gyro with spiced roasted chickpeas. For a quick and simple supper, simply fill them with cheese and stick under the grill – mmm!
Cut them into strips, either warm or toasted and then use them to scoop up your favourite dip. Hummus is a good one of course, but if you’re stuck for ideas, you’ll find a few further down this post.
Use them instead of naan bread when you next have a curry. Or turn them into a mini pizza. And like most other flatbreads, they’re just perfect for mopping up stews and sauces or juices left on the plate.
Half Wholemeal is Best
Over the last few months, I’ve been experimenting with flatbreads and trying to find the perfect mix of flours. I’ve made super easy flatbreads with baking powder and no yeast, flatbreads with yoghurt, and sourdough flatbread. I’ve tried using all white flour and conversely a hundred percent wholemeal flour. Neither of these were completely satisfactory.
Fibre is such an important part of the human diet and most of us don’t get enough of it. So I really don’t want to eat pure white bread which has had all of its bran removed. I did make a batch though just to see what they were like. And I have to say they were delicious and also really easy to handle once cooked.
When I tried using only wholemeal flour, the resulting flatbreads were a bit tough. They also didn’t have the requisite pliability that’s so important in a good flatbread.
So I tried a mix of seventy five percent wholemeal and twenty five percent white flour. These weren’t as tough as the hundred percent wholemeal flour, but they still weren’t as pliable as I like them to be.
I tried it the other way around and only used twenty five percent wholemeal flour. But although the result looked and tasted good, I wasn’t happy about the drop in fibre content.
It turns out that a mix of half wholemeal and half white is the best. You get a decent amount of fibre in your bread, but you also get a really good pliable texture. And they have a really good flavour too.
There’s actually a bit more than half wholemeal in these sourdough flatbreads as the sourdough starter is made with dark rye flour which is a hundred percent wholemeal. So to the wholemeal starter, I add half strong wholemeal flour and half strong white. But both the texture and flavour are nigh on perfect.
Jazz Up Your Sourdough Flatbreads
If you fancy going green, you can purée soft green leaves and add that to the flatbread dough. For more of an idea how to do this, take a look at my recipe for green flatbreads.
And if you’re good at rolling your sourdough flatbreads into thin round tortillas, why not try my tortilla wrap hack with peanut butter, bananas and chocolate. It’s ever so easy and quite delicious.
Dip Recipes for Your Homemade Flatbreads
- Aubergine dip
- Avocado & egg
- Caramelised onion & yoghurt dip
- Minted broad bean spread
- Moroccan carrot dip
- Smoky red pepper dip
- Watercress pesto
Keep in Touch
Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you try this recipe for sourdough flatbreads, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Have you any top tips? Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.
And for more bread recipes, follow the link and you’ll find I have quite a lot of them. All delicious, of course.
Sourdough Flatbreads. PIN IT.
Sourdough Flatbreads – The Recipe
Sourdough Flatbreads: Tortilla Wraps & Pitta Bread
- 75 g rye sourdough starter or your normal sourdough starter
- 225 g wholemeal rye flour or your normal sourdough flour
- 250 g strong wholemeal flour
- 250 g strong white bread flour
- 1 ½ tsp sea salt I use Cornish sea salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- The night before baking the bread, mix the rye flour with 450ml of warm water in a large bowl. Add the sourdough starter and stir well. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and leave to ferment overnight.
- In the morning remove 75g of the ferment into a covered glass jar and place in the fridge until the next time you need a sourdough starter.
- To the remaining ferment, add the wholemeal and white flours, salt and olive oil. Knead in a stand mixer for ten minutes. The mixture is quite wet, so it's a bit more difficult to do by hand, but entirely possible.
- Cover loosely with a plastic bag, plate or tea towel, ensuring nothing touches the dough and leave to prove at room temperature for at least one hour. Two hours is better.
- If you're making pitta breads, turn the oven on to 220℃ (425℉, Gas 7). Place the baking tray inside the oven to heat up.For tortilla style breads, heat a cast iron or non-stick pan over a medium high heat.
- Divide the dough into sixteen balls and roll them on a floured board as required. The dough can be a bit sticky, so flour your board and rolling pin well.For a tortilla style flatbread, you want to roll them into thin round disks that will fit your frying pan or hot plate. A diameter of 18 cm (7 ½ ") is about right.Pitta bread needs to be smaller and a bit thicker. About 4-5 mm in thickness or just under ¼ inch. Traditionnally they are oval shaped, but go for circles of you prefer.
- For pittas, place onto the hot tray, spacing well apart and bake in the oven for 5-8 minutes or until the breads are puffed up and have just started to colour.For tortillas, place one on the hot pan and bake for 2-3 minutes or until the bread has puffed up a little and the bottom looks cooked. Flip and cook the other side for a couple of minutes. Wrap in a tea towel to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining flatbreads. It's easiest to roll the second one as you cook the first one and so on. You're less likely to run out of space that way and you'll speed up the process too.
I’m sharing this recipe for sourdough flatbreads with The Peachicks Bakery for #CookBlogShare.