Are there tricks for baking thick and fluffy pita bread?
The ones I make come out fine, with an even puff and nice pockets, but they are on the thin side. I would really love to be able to make thicker ones, like those common in the Middle East.
I accidentally made a thick pita by simply rolling my pitas thicker. In my experience, technique is king with pita. The temperature of the oven (I bake at 450 degrees) and making sure to roll smoothly without any punctures in the dough, then place directly on the rack make perfectly puffy pitas every time. The thickness of the dough surrounding the pocket is entirely dependent - in my case - on how thick I roll. I use the lavash cracker recipe from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice as my dough.
When using a pan on a stove top, cook bread for about 20 seconds to crust, then flip to start cooking. The crust helps to "hold onto the air" and get a pocket. Granted it won't puff like in an oven, but you will get more of a pocket.
As justkt says, roll the dough a bit thicker. It also helps to cook the breads on a pizza/baking stone (or unglazed tiles from the local hardware).
I use the recipe and method from bakers (Alford and Dugard, I believe) from an old episode of "Baking with Julia." You can probably find it online somewhere.