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Perfect Pita: The secret to thin pita with


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#1 A Patric

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 11:33 AM

Hi all,

I'm looking for the secret. Obviously the pita has to be rolled out thinly, but is there also a special preparation that leads to thinner pita with a very large diameter, like I've had at some falafel places? I think it is Lebanese style.

I tried Foodman's recipe and it tastes great, but as he mentioned, they are just a little bit too thick. Also, I personally had trouble getting them to puff. My first one puffed beautifully, but the others only puffed on one side or the other (left or right). I'm wondering if I should add more water next time and simply use more flour on the board I roll it out on in order to keep it from sticking. That might result in perfect puffing due to the extra steam. Any thoughts? In terms of the thickness, should I try adding a little cake flour in with the all-purpose flour to allow them to roll out finer?

Also, I've seen recipes with and without olive oil as an addition. Does anyone know, aside from flavor, how olive oil impacts the pita. Does it help or hinder the puffing?

Thank you for any tips.

Best,

Alan

#2 ChefCrash

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 09:44 PM

We have a consistent supply of excellent Pita bread. We only make them when we need mini pitas for Hors d'oeuvres (mini burgers).

The two most important variables that determine whether rounds puff or not are:

- A rest period after you roll the dough.
- Oven temperature.

The first one is easy, the rounds have to rest 15 to 20 minutes before they go in the oven. The second one is tricky. Oven temperature has to be high enough to puff the bread and give it a golden color before too much moisture is lost.

After baking, the pitas should cool to room temperature and remain soft (for a short period of time, pita bread will dry out in minutes if not placed in plastic bags immediately after cooling). If they turn hard, your oven is not hot enough and you're having to bake them too long.

If the first batch puffed and a consequent batch didn't, could be because first batch had a longer resting period while the oven preheated, or the second batch was placed in the oven soon after you removed the first without allowing the oven to make up for lost heat.

Other than flavor, oil can make pita bread less chewy (we like chewy) but will also cause it to stay softer longer when exposed to air. Used is excess will make the bread crumbly.

I don't think oil effects puffing either way.

#3 A Patric

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 06:23 AM

Hi Chef,

Thank you for the feedback. I had used a baking stone with 500 F setting. Would you recommend even using a higher heat setting, such as 550 F?

I also recall that the one that did puff was the first one I cooked, so the oven was nice and hot, and it had also had the longest amount of time to rest; perhaps 25 minutes. So perhaps that is another problem. Next time I'll let the rolled pita rest longer and let the oven reheat longer.

If the oil impacts the chewiness, then perhaps that means that it slightly impacts the extent to which the gluten develops, and if that is the case, perhaps the pita will roll out a bit more thinly with the addition of a bit of olive oil. Any thoughts?

Finally, I was partially wondering if my dough was a bit dry. I added just enough to make it workable without sticking to everything. Perhaps I should have added a bit more water and then simply have floured the rolling surface well? Do you have any experiences that would lead you to think that this might have been a problem?

Best,

Alan

#4 Perri

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 02:24 AM

to get the Perfect Pita's lebanese/israeli style is to use the Original Lebanese Pita Pot that is used all throughout the Middle East in restaurants and in nearly every single home. :smile:

It has the perfect temperature for pitas and they only take around 30sec to bake :shock:

#5 hazardnc

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 08:33 AM

I have made Foodman's recipe many times. I have also tried other recipes using oil and a little sugar.

The secret to puffing is to make sure you dough doesn't stick to the counter. Someone suggested using rice flour when rolling the dough and I find that works very well. I also let my dough rise longer than Foodman (Elie) suggests.

My problem with all of the recipes is I can't get my pitas to brown - ehnce the additions of oil and sugar. I was told by a Lebanese deli owner here that sugar is the key - but still, no luck.

I haven't tried temps higher than 500 - will give it a hot if my oven can get that hot.
We don't have any local Arabic bakeries, so good pita is hard to come by.

#6 FoodMan

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 09:42 AM

I have made Foodman's recipe many times.  I have also tried other recipes using oil and a little sugar. 

The secret to puffing is to make sure you dough doesn't stick to the counter. Someone suggested using rice flour when rolling the dough and I find that works very well.  I also let my dough rise longer than Foodman (Elie) suggests.

My problem with all of the recipes is I can't get my pitas to brown - ehnce the additions of oil and sugar.  I was told by a Lebanese deli owner here that sugar is the key - but still, no luck.

I haven't tried temps higher than 500 - will give it a hot if my oven can get that hot.
We don't have any local Arabic bakeries, so good pita is hard to come by.

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I think I said that in the recipe/class as well, but I cannot get them to brown either. If they do brown, they are overcooked and crispy by then. The key unfortunatly is, I think, much higher heat and flame from the sides, not just the bottom. See in the commercial ovens, the flame goes up the sides and the top of the bread browns fast, not so in the home oven. Now! if there is a way wot have the 'Bake' and 'Broil' turned on at the same time...

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#7 Smithy

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 04:33 PM

I think I said that in the recipe/class as well, but I cannot get them to brown either. If they do brown, they are overcooked and crispy by then. The key unfortunatly is, I think, much higher heat and flame from the sides, not just the bottom. See in the commercial ovens, the flame goes up the sides and the top of the bread browns fast, not so in the home oven. Now! if there is a way wot have the 'Bake' and 'Broil' turned on at the same time...

View Post

I wonder if a good heavy ceramic liner in the oven, right up the sides, would do the trick? That would get the heat more evenly distributed. I'm too cheap to spend the money on an expensive oven insert, but I've been considering the purchase of a lot of firebrick, now that I know what a difference my baking stone makes.

Along the same line of thinking, I wonder whether a convection oven cranked way high would more nearly mimic the over/under flames of the commercial oven. Has anyone here tried that?

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#8 maher

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 02:02 AM

the hottest oven you can get will help a lot. most commercial pita ovens in the Middle East run well over 600 degrees.

#9 ChefCrash

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 10:51 AM

I wonder if this technique for Roti would work for Pitas.

Link was provided by v. gautam on another thread.

#10 JoNorvelleWalker

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 12:43 AM

From the help of this thread I made pita for the first time tonight.  I even got a perfect pocket, which surprised and delighted me no end.  I never thought pita would be something I would make myself, but I was wrong.


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#11 Hassouni

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 11:58 AM

I should point out there are types of bread in Lebanon that would fall under the "pita" designation (this term is unknown in the Arab world).

 

Both are round and have a pocket.  What's sold in stores and bakeries, and eaten at home, is SUPER thin (like, no more than 2-3mm), and often very large in diameter (possibly over a foot). It is very chewy, in a good way. This is served at restaurants cut into triangles and presented in a baggie, because it dries out and goes stale extremely quickly. This sort is what's used for shawarmas, falafels, and other sandwiches, as a wrap, NOT as a "pocket sandwich."

 

The other type I only ever see in nicer restaurants - it's fresh baked, thicker, less chewy, and smaller, no more than 6" in diameter. They're always served straight from the oven, and are very soft to begin with, but get a bit harder if they sit out over the course of the meal.

 

I would imagine that the latter type is easier to make. JoNorvelleWalker, could you post a picture of what you made?


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#12 brucesw

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 09:51 AM

I should point out there are types of bread in Lebanon that would fall under the "pita" designation (this term is unknown in the Arab world).

 

Both are round and have a pocket.  What's sold in stores and bakeries, and eaten at home, is SUPER thin (like, no more than 2-3mm), and often very large in diameter (possibly over a foot). It is very chewy, in a good way. This is served at restaurants cut into triangles and presented in a baggie, because it dries out and goes stale extremely quickly. This sort is what's used for shawarmas, falafels, and other sandwiches, as a wrap, NOT as a "pocket sandwich."

 

The other type I only ever see in nicer restaurants - it's fresh baked, thicker, less chewy, and smaller, no more than 6" in diameter. They're always served straight from the oven, and are very soft to begin with, but get a bit harder if they sit out over the course of the meal.

 

I would imagine that the latter type is easier to make. JoNorvelleWalker, could you post a picture of what you made?

 

 

'Pita' around here is used for quite a variety of flat breads in terms of thickness, pliability and diameter.  I have had some as thick as, say, an Oreo, and very soft at Israeli places (and they've been called Yemeni style pitas?).  What are the names of the two Lebanese varieties you described?



#13 andiesenji

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 01:33 PM

I've posted this before but can't find the topic.

This is a very easy recipe and produces a thin, tender and PUFFY pita.

 

Here is my recipe:  This is so much better than store bought.

Pita Bread   Very easy

2-1/2 cups unbleached bread flour   (I add 2 tablespoons if all I have is all-purpose flour)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons rapid-rise or "instant" yeast
2 tablespoons oil, olive or canola or grape seed.
1-1/4 cups water room temp.

Measure the flour (unsifted) into a large bowl.
Add the salt, yeast and oil.
Make a "well" in the center of the flour and pour in the water.
Using your hands, bring the flour into the water and continue mixing until a ball of dough is formed.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead for about 15 minutes.

(If you have a mixer that has a dough hook you can place all ingredients into the mixing bowl, blend until ingredients form a ball then continue mixing for about 10 minutes with the mixer set on lowest speed.  Or you can use a food processor add all the dry ingredients, pulse briefly to mix, add the oil and pulse.  Then, with the processor running, slowly add the water until the dough forms a ball, usually takes only about 20 seconds total.

The dough should feel silky and soft but not flabby, when a thumb is pressed into the dough it should fill in quickly.

Spray the inside of a large Zip-lock bag with Pam or similar oil spray.
Place the dough ball into the bag and seal.
Set aside to rise until it has doubled in size.
At normal room temp this should be about an hour to an hour and a half.
Turn the dough out onto the floured board, knead 3 or 4 times then stretch into a fat cylinder.
Cut in half, then cut the halves in half, and so on, so that you end up with 8 pieces of dough.

Roll the pieces into balls and press flat into a disk.
Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with oil, place disks on it then cover with another sheet of plastic wrap. Set aside to rest for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat oven to 475 degrees, F.

Using a rolling pin, flatten the disks on a lightly floured board and roll into about a 6-inch circle.
They should be about 1/4 inch thick or slightly less.

If you have a baking stone you can bake the pita directly on it, mist the stone with water before placing the pita on the hot stone then mist the pita.

Otherwise, place the pita on a lightly oiled baking sheet and place on center shelf in oven.

Mist the pita and close the oven door.

Watch closely. In about 3-4 minutes the pita will have blown up like a balloon and are done. They should not brown, but might show a little color around the edges.

Immediately remove them from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.

Depending on the size of your oven you should be able to bake 3 or 4 at a time.
You have to leave room above the pita for them to expand.

To reheat, fold into a kitchen towel and heat in microwave for 20-30 seconds.


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#14 Hassouni

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 02:51 PM

'Pita' around here is used for quite a variety of flat breads in terms of thickness, pliability and diameter.  I have had some as thick as, say, an Oreo, and very soft at Israeli places (and they've been called Yemeni style pitas?).  What are the names of the two Lebanese varieties you described?

 

Both are referred to as "khibiz 'arabi" in Lebanese dialect (I might be wrong, it might just refer to the pre-packaged kind). The fresh-baked ones my friends always refer to in restaurants as "khibiz fresh/fraiche" or, if you wanted to say fresh in colloquial arabic, "taza".

 

This is in comparison to various other indigenous bready objects, like khibiz mar'ou', or saaj, or mana'ish (which are sort of all related to each other), which do not have pockets.



#15 JoNorvelleWalker

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 05:16 PM

I would imagine that the latter type is easier to make. JoNorvelleWalker, could you post a picture of what you made?

 

Oops, I just saw this, sorry!  The latter type does indeed sound like the pita I made.

 

This weekend I hope to make hummis.  If so, I will again try pita.  I'd not had a digital camera, but my son kindly let me borrow his.  Of course I need to figure out how to use it before I can think about getting a pita picture.



#16 davidkeay

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 12:12 PM

Hassouni - do you know if there's any other name to identify the very thin lebanese pita (which still has a pocket, but would be served as a wrap rather than opened)?

 

I used to go to an amazing bakery in Massachusetts that made that, and it ruined me on the thicker pita bread. Nobody in new york seems to make it, so I want to see if I can get close at home. So far, all my searching online has only dug up recipes for the other style.

 

Thanks!



#17 Hassouni

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 10:50 PM

Hassouni - do you know if there's any other name to identify the very thin lebanese pita (which still has a pocket, but would be served as a wrap rather than opened)?

 

I used to go to an amazing bakery in Massachusetts that made that, and it ruined me on the thicker pita bread. Nobody in new york seems to make it, so I want to see if I can get close at home. So far, all my searching online has only dug up recipes for the other style.

 

Thanks!

 

I've only ever heard it referred to as "Arabic bread" (khibiz 'arabi) 

 

It's not easy to find in the US, and more than any type of bread besides a baguette, is BY FAR best on the day it's baked.  I also don't think it's made much at home, but rather by commercial bakeries. (It's an urban thing too, in the countryside/mountains they make marqouq bread on a saj, which is something entirely different)



#18 JoNorvelleWalker

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 10:39 PM

I made my pita.  Sorry, still no pictures.  The camera sits here untouched.  Again the pita turned out well, with a nice pocket, though more puffed.  The dough was fresher this time than last, which may have something to do with it.  I think the trick with pita is to bake only for a couple minutes, until it browns and blisters, without getting over done.



#19 HungryC

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 07:05 AM

I've had luck in puffing pita using a hot baking stone and oven around 500-550 (preheat the stone thoroughly), as well as using a baking stone on a charcoal grill.  The pita won't puff unless rolled thinly, and the trick to rolling thinly is to allow the dough to rest a bit after it is preshaped.  IOW, divide it, round into portioned balls, then wait 10 mins.  Roll/stretch each portion into a disk, then cover with a damp cloth, and wait a bit more.  Patience is key, and you can roll as thin as you'd like, provided you don't try to do it all at once.

 

Someone up thread suggested adding cake flour to make the pitas roll thinner--except this won't work.  Using a lower protein flour will lead to tearing and holes, not a thinner pita.  You need decent gluten development in order to get a thin disk of dough.



#20 JoNorvelleWalker

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 12:00 AM

I've posted this before but can't find the topic.

This is a very easy recipe and produces a thin, tender and PUFFY pita.

 

Here is my recipe:  This is so much better than store bought.

Pita Bread   Very easy

2-1/2 cups unbleached bread flour   (I add 2 tablespoons if all I have is all-purpose flour)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons rapid-rise or "instant" yeast
2 tablespoons oil, olive or canola or grape seed.
1-1/4 cups water room temp.

Measure the flour (unsifted) into a large bowl.
Add the salt, yeast and oil.
Make a "well" in the center of the flour and pour in the water.
Using your hands, bring the flour into the water and continue mixing until a ball of dough is formed.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead for about 15 minutes.

(If you have a mixer that has a dough hook you can place all ingredients into the mixing bowl, blend until ingredients form a ball then continue mixing for about 10 minutes with the mixer set on lowest speed.  Or you can use a food processor add all the dry ingredients, pulse briefly to mix, add the oil and pulse.  Then, with the processor running, slowly add the water until the dough forms a ball, usually takes only about 20 seconds total.

The dough should feel silky and soft but not flabby, when a thumb is pressed into the dough it should fill in quickly.

Spray the inside of a large Zip-lock bag with Pam or similar oil spray.
Place the dough ball into the bag and seal.
Set aside to rise until it has doubled in size.
At normal room temp this should be about an hour to an hour and a half.
Turn the dough out onto the floured board, knead 3 or 4 times then stretch into a fat cylinder.
Cut in half, then cut the halves in half, and so on, so that you end up with 8 pieces of dough.

Roll the pieces into balls and press flat into a disk.
Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with oil, place disks on it then cover with another sheet of plastic wrap. Set aside to rest for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat oven to 475 degrees, F.

Using a rolling pin, flatten the disks on a lightly floured board and roll into about a 6-inch circle.
They should be about 1/4 inch thick or slightly less.

If you have a baking stone you can bake the pita directly on it, mist the stone with water before placing the pita on the hot stone then mist the pita.

Otherwise, place the pita on a lightly oiled baking sheet and place on center shelf in oven.

Mist the pita and close the oven door.

Watch closely. In about 3-4 minutes the pita will have blown up like a balloon and are done. They should not brown, but might show a little color around the edges.

Immediately remove them from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.

Depending on the size of your oven you should be able to bake 3 or 4 at a time.
You have to leave room above the pita for them to expand.

To reheat, fold into a kitchen towel and heat in microwave for 20-30 seconds.

 

I did something like this tonight (I don't want to blame the recipe) and got a tastey enough bread but not really a pita.  When I made pita before I flipped the bread over on the stone half way through.