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How to Make Druze Pita

Every culture in the Middle East has their own style of fast cooking bread, which they call "pita".  If you want to moderate your carbohydrate intake and you like wheat products but not what they normally do to your waistline, you'll want to consider the Druze pita for your bread fix.  It is a wide, almost paper thin, chewy wrap bread that will do the job of holding whatever you like to put in a sandwich.  Traditionally though, it is served with a variety of middle eastern salads or smeared with labane, and sprinkled with zaatar and olive oil.
To make Druze pita you will need a tabun (also spelled "taboon") that is of a size that will fit securely on your stove top.  You can also use an overturned wok, preferably of cast iron or stainless steel, without a teflon coating.  Teflon can burn, and should not be exposed to an open flame or left to heat for long periods.

You need something that can get and stay very hot.  You should also do this on a gas stove, not an electric one.  It's not so important to have it centered over the flame, so long as the flame is totally covered by the tabun or wok.

Tabun or Taboon for the stove top
Tabun or Taboon made for the stove top
Ingredients:
  • 1 kg. regular white wheat flour (Set aside about a cup or cup and a half of the flour for the kneading.)
  • ½ cup corn or potato starch
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1½ tsp. cream of tartar
  • lukewarm water (3 cups more or less)
Procedure:
Sift all of the dry ingredients together into a large bowl.
Add lukewarm water, while squishing with your fingers, until you have a somewhat wet ball of dough. Once you have enough water in, continue to squish out any major lumps.
Spread some flour over the counter, and turn the dough out onto it. You may have to do some scraping off the bowl and your fingers.
Knead the dough, adding flour as you go, until you have a pretty firm ball of dough that is somewhat dry and “heavy”. If you need to add more flour than you reserved, do so.
Put the dough in a food safe plastic bag, and squeeze out as much air as you can. Don’t seal the bag right up against the dough though. Give it some room to rise a little.
Put the bag of dough in a bowl in a warm but not too warm place for an hour, or put it in the refrigerator overnight. On top of the refrigerator is the perfect place for the hour fermentation.
When you are ready to start making your pitas, have ready your surface, some flour, a small roller, and your covered plate or cushion. Then heat your upside-down wok on a HIGH setting.
Take about a half cup or palm sized ball of dough from the bag, and roll it to make it somewhat spherical. Then mash it flatter between your hands, and even more flat between your fingers.
Slap it down onto your floured surface, and then turn it over and slap it down again. This will help spread out the flour, and get the dough “conditioned” for stretching.
Mash the dough down even flatter, using brisk striking motions or just pressing firmly but quickly. If you've ever made pizza dough, you’ll know the right “touch”.
If you have short fingernails and know what you're doing, you can start doing a brisk toss at this stage.  If you have long nails or you've never tossed pastry dough before, you should roll it.

So, with the small roller, roll from the center of the patty of dough outwards. Rotate it a little, and roll out from the center again. Rotate and roll, rotate and roll, and on and on until you have a fairly thin, tortilla like circle of dough.

Gently transfer this onto the plate or cushion. Most like to do this using the back of their hands to avoid tearing it.
Stretching the dough on a plate
Stretching the dough
Pick up the cushion, and gently, a little at a time, stretch the dough over it. You want a large disk of dough that is not quite as big as your overturned wok. If you make it too big, it will hang off the edges.
Now, take the cushion with your dough, and plop the dough onto the very hot wok.
Once it is bubbling, it is basically done, but if you’re new at this, there may be some wrinkles, or your edges might be a little thick. Slide the spatula under the pita to lift it, turn it over, and then flip down the edges so that they touch the pan. You might need to press here and there with the spatula.
The cooking barely takes a minute, so be watchful, or you’ll burn holes right through it.
Waiting for bubbles
Waiting for the dough to have enough bubbles
Finished Druze pita with some already in the bag
Yummy!
When it’s done, slide the spatula under it, and lift it off of the tabun.  To keep them soft, place them in a plastic bag before they get cold.

If you want them somewhat crispy, then leave them lain flat on a plate.

You can make crisps from these by sprinkling them with a little olive oil and whatever spices you like, cutting them up, and baking them in the oven for 10 minutes or so.

If you prefer more natural fermentation rather than baking soda, you can save about a cup of your dough, and add it to the next batch during the water and squishing step.  You can skip the baking soda and cream of tartar, but you'll still need to add about a teaspoon of salt.

© 2009 Nicole T. Lasher