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shain

Cooking with an electric pita oven

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So I finally got myself a "pita oven" - it's in quotes because it's not really an oven, it's an electric oven made using two high powered electric heating elements - one at the bottom and one on top, it has no temperature or power control - only plugged in or not.. The oven itself is built of aluminium and opens on an hinge. A large aluminium plate is placed between the elements.

 

I mentioned this kind of oven over a thread discussing pita, saying that I expect it to be a good tool for baking soft, fluffy pitas:

https://forums.egullet.org/topic/93355-perfect-khoubz-pita-bread-getting-a-good-puff/?comment=2059217

 

So for a first run, I "burnt" some eggplants. This is something I usually do over a fire or gas grill, since my oven is not hot enough to char the eggplant skin without drying it too much. The pita oven was definitely hot enough. The eggplants were eaten with tahini and cumin, and I could barley tell the difference from fire roasted.

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For the next attempt, I made manoush bread, with olive oil and zaatar. Again I was happy with the results, the oven heats up very fast and the dough puffs out nicely, develops a good char, but remains tender thanks to the short bake time. The first one got slightly burnt on the bottom, they cooked in about 90 seconds each, so I had to make sure and check them often. They did stick a little to the peel when I tried to load them. I took a note to use more flour next time, or better yet, semolina. 

Served with labneh cheese. Labaneh and zaatar were made for each other. The charred flavor makes it even better.

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~ Shai N.

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Chag sameach. I was waiting to see what you had in store for us. 

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The breads looks fabulous. Looks like a great investment. Do you have a recipe to share?

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Thanks @cakewalk! As you are about to see, this was not this day bake.

 

Israel's independance day had become a traditional day for grilling meat. As a vegetarian I'm not really into this :)

 

@joesan Thanks, the recipe is very simple and forgiving, take your favorite pizza dough recipe, or a storebought one. Shape it as you would pizzas, albeit smaller - those should be personal, not sliced. Poke with a skewer to prevent puffing, drizzle some olive oil and spread it evenly. Sprinkle zaatar spice mix (dry zaatar herb, sumac, sesame), salt. Bake in the hottest your oven can get.

As for investment, it costed 200nis (55$), so not really big investment ^_^  

 

For today, I got to the real test for the oven - baking pitas. The style of pita best like in israel is tender and fluffy, a tad sweet and slightly elastic. I believe that this style originated in Egypt or Yemen, but I'm not really sure.

 

I based on my experience with making pizzas, and assumed the hydration is similar. I used 62% (that's 185g of water for 300g of flour). Also yeast, salt and a little sugar. Some kneading and a cold overnight rise in the fridge. This morning I took the dough out and shaped into 6 balls. I left them to proof for about 3 hours.

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I gently flattened the balls (1cm thick) and loaded them to the oven, which was preheated for a few minutes. I closed the oven and let them puff, which they quickly did.

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After about a minute, they were fully baked, even a little too dark on one side. I baked the second batch a little shorter, still too long, I think due to the oven getting even hotter.

I placed the breads in a closed container to rest and steam, so that they will stay soft.

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I'm very pleased with the result, the crumb is elastic and gelatinized, to "crust" is soft and tender, but the darker side of the over-baked batch is just a little chewier than I'd like. They also separated nicely and mostly evenly (often, even in commercial pitas, one side will be very thin). The best part of a good pita is the interior.

 

I served them while still hot, with freshly made hummus, and good olive oil.

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I'm eager to try baking more stuff, especially pizzas and ciabattas. I also want to try some cooking (i.e. not baking).

 


Edited by shain (log)
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~ Shai N.

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Thanks for the tips. I'm going to try to make those myself. Pittas also look great. You can't beat a nice flat bread, wherever it's from. I bet that oven would make great piadinas as well.

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A while ago I tried stir frying in it. Worked OK.

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~ Shai N.

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When of the things I dislike most about baking pizzas in my o=home oven is that it takes a long time to heat up (especially with a baking stone), which is made even worse during summer, when it really heats up the kitchen.

I was excited by the pita oven since it can be used outside and is fast heating to boot (10 minutes of preheat).

It's higher temp also allows baking more Neapolitan style pizzas (Neapolitan pizza texture is a lot like this of a good fluffy pita).

I baked 3 pizzas this time.

 

Classic margarita - fresh crushed tomatoes, mozzarella. Olive oil and basil post bake. This one got a little torn when I removed it from the oven.20170603_135320.thumb.jpg.cc6b5030e7e9dbbae1327bf4d57495de.jpg20170603_135312.thumb.jpg.fe0e255a1eb8741cff3c383c7885c78a.jpg

 

Tomato curry and chickpeas with mozzarella, coconut cream, red Thai curry paste, cardamom, ginger, garlic, chili,  cumin. (Yum!)

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Parmesan, pistachios, onion, rosemary. Lemon juice and pepper post bake.

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Bake time was about 2 minutes each. I'd like them to char more, but the cheeses and toppings were threatening to get overcooked, so I preferred to take them out a tad pale (overcooked fresh mozzarella is a sad thing). The bottom of the pizzas was more charred and had a nice smokey flavor from the semolina that fell from the pizzas and burnt.

I think I'll try to set up a deflector to aim the heat away from he center and towards the rim.

 

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~ Shai N.

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