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pita bread: why didn't it puff up?

hey folks, i have a pretty elementary baking question. i made pita bread for the first time tonight, and while the first one puffed up nicely, the rest of them got a couple of air bubbles but not the dramatic puff-up.

what did i do wrong here? oven not hot enough? any suggestions gratefully accepted.

thanks!!

elizabeth

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  1. I've had this problem when I've rolled them TOO thin. Or perhaps you didn't let them rise a bit on the tray after rolling them out?

    1. We just made pita last night and I had to remind myself to let them sit after rolling them out to insure a nice puff. Only two out of 12 or so didn't puff well, so we must have remembered well.
      Also, we cranked our oven up to 500 and threw a pizza stone into the bottom, which we baked the pita directly on. I think the resting and the hot, hot oven are both key.
      What's in your recipe? Ours was really simple, with a mixture of whole wheat flour and bread flour. It also calls for milk and butter, which I think gives the pita a nicetender chew.

      5 Replies
      1. re: rabaja

        hi folks... this is a *huge* help... thank you! i'm a total novice baker, so had no idea how to troubleshoot here.

        i did not let them rise after rolling them out; i don't think my recipe specified this. i also may have rolled them too think (thinking, incorrectly, that thinner ones are less 'heavy' & more likely to puff).

        i used the recipe from "flexitarian cooking," which is just water, whole wheat flour (plus a little white for the kneading), oil, and salt. can you share your recipe, rabaja? the additions of milk and butter sound delicious.

        1. re: elizabeth_b

          For what it is worth I tried the Flexitarian recipe for Naan, and it just didn't work. I ended up making a second dough from a different book instead.

            1. re: elizabeth_b

              Whole Wheat Pita

              1 T dry yeast
              1/2 c warm water (90ish degrees)
              sprinkle of suger
              >Sprinkle yeast over water in bowl of your kitchen aide (or whatever mixing bowl your using). Whisk briefly, sprinkle in sugar, let sit a couple minutes. You should see some activity in the bowl once the yeast starts to eat the sugar.

              1 T bread flour
              1 t salt
              >Sprinkle flour and then salt into bowl (I try to land the salt right on top of the flour so it doesn't kill the yeast). Allow to sit and ferment 10 minutes.

              4 oz butter
              2 c milk
              >Melt butter, add milk near the end to cool mixture. Add milk mixture to yeast mixture while mixing on low with dough hook attachment.

              2 c whole wheat flour
              2 c bread flour
              >Add gradually to mixing bowl while mixing on low. Knead 15-20 minutes, dough will be soft. Cover with towel and let rise for two hours.

              2 c bread flour
              >Punch sponge down and put back onto mixer with your dough hook. Gradually add remaining flour. When dough comes together, turn your mixer up for a few moments to develop the gluten. Cover with towel and let rise one more hour. (I removed my dough ball at this point and lightly oiled my bowl, spinning the dough in the oil as I put it back in to proof).

              Turn out dough on to clean work surface and knead for a few minutes by hand. You shouldn't need additional flour at this point, the dough should be soft and workable, and I actually found the clean surface which became slightly greasy from the dough the best to form it on.

              Divide dough into 4 oz balls, place on oiled parchment and cover. (At this point you can refrigerate the dough and bake it off the next day. Allow balls to come to room temp before rolling them out.) Proof balls until soft to the touch, then roll out to somewhere around 1/4", maybe slightly thinner.

              I like to brush the rolled out dough lightly with olive oil and sprinkle a little fleur de sel and z'atar over them before sliding them on the stone. Once puffed I watch them closely as the over browned ones turn crunchy once cool, and I like them soft to use for sandwiches. -Although we toasted up the leftover pita to scoop into some hummus and tonight were using them as croutons, they are good both ways.
              Hope this makes sense!
              *Next time I would probably increase the whole wheat flour by a cup, so 3 c whole wheat to 3 cups bread flour. These were tender enough, and I like the idea of using more whole grain flour. I'll post back once I try this.
              **Also, I yielded about 12-14 pitas from this recipe, all 4 oz except for the last one which was 3 oz.

              1. re: rabaja

                hi rabaja, thanks so much for posting this and writing out the directions so carefully!! suffice to say that it's been printed out, and then taped into my flexitarian cooking book. :D

                thank you! you all are a huge help... baking is pretty confusing when you're just starting out.

          1. also, don't know how much of a difference it makes, but the recipe that i use (from "breadtime" by susan cheney) is very explicit about not opening the oven for the first 3-4 minutes of baking. I think the idea is that the pitas puff up due to steam getting trapped in them, and if you open the oven door and the heat escapes, the steam can't do its thing. Something like that, anyway....

            1. oven and pan must be very hot in order for puff to happen - i have had the best puff in convection ovens. also i make the dough very soft, and i agree about not rolling too thin.

              i put yogurt and half whole wheat in my dough.

              1. I finally got the elusive "puff", however my problem is they stayed puffed, didn't deflate, and became crunchy and fell apart. I was able to salvage some by wetting them a bit and microwaving. I think maybe I rolled them just a bit too thin, left them in the oven too long and should have wrapped them in a towel when they came out. I also heard spritzing them with water helps them "puff".