Monday, September 6, 2010

It's All About How You Make It: Chebe Pitas

Order of addition, batch instructions. In the chemical manufacturing world, that is what we call the actual steps of making a recipe. This "method of making" can make the difference between a desirable product and a failure. I remember a Process Department meeting (when I worked as a Process Chemist, making products in a manufacturing setting) we had split up in teams to make mayonnaise to prove this point on how important "manufacturing guidelines" are in the plant when someone else is making our stuff. We were given the ingredients, but no instructions. From there, we had to figure out our making method instructions. We scientifically proposed that we knew it was an emulsion, with a water phase (lemon juice), oil phase (olive oil), and an emulsifier (egg yolks) to stabilize the phases that keep it from separating. Sounded easy. We've made emulsions before; we all felt confident. The room was filled with brilliant scientists and engineers from around the world. Only one group out of seven teams successfully made a non-separating, stable mayonnaise. Astonishing. Clear directions with order of addition and information for each step can be critical to make the desired product. This proved to be a lesson to all of us in clearly writing up our making instructions, step by step, for success in manufacturing our products by someone who has never made it before.


Case in point: my "Greek & Gluten-Free" cooking class at The Midwest Culinary Institute. Two of the students expressed concern when they saw I had pitas made from Chebe bread mix on the menu. They said they did not like the bread due to an undesirable texture. I asked to keep an open mind, since the way the I make it probably differs. For the past say six years, I have been making Chebe so frequently, that I do not bother to read the written instructions on the back of the package. Over the years I have modified the making instructions for Chebe to optimize the end result of the bread. Minimal to no changes were made to the ingredients. These "technical" changes made a difference to win over those students who were initially not fond of Chebe. They kept asking, "What did you do different?"

Basic baking guideline: follow the nature of the ingredients that you are working with. That is, combine wet ingredients with other wet ingredients; combine all the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. From there, if needed based on dough consistency, add more (tapioca) flour or liquid. Here are the step-by-step instructions for Chebe pitas:

  1. Heat up your grill, or oven to 400F.
  2. In a medium/large mixing bowl, scramble 2 large room temperature eggs with a fork.
  3. Mix in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  4. Mix in 5 tablespoons room temperature liquid (milk, water, broth, etc)
  5. Add in seasonings as desired (chopped fresh herbs like oregano, parsley, chives; garlic, onion powder - use your creativity here)
  6. Add in Chebe packet. Yellow Chebe variety will rise the most with baking powder in it. If you are using another variety, add 1 teaspoon baking powder for this quick bread to leaven for its puffiest potential. Carefully incorporate the dry ingredients with the liquids to make into a dough that is easy to handle and shape.
  7. If too sticky, add a little bit more (tapioca) flour/starch. If too mealy/powdery, add a little bit more liquid until dough is cohesive.
  8. On your working surface, lightly dust with (tapioca) flour/starch.
  9. Divide the mass of dough into 6 portions.
  10. On your floured surface, shape the dough into a round pita about 1/4 inch thick. You can use your hands or a rolling pin. Lightly dust each pita to prevent sticking and stack.
  11. Cook on grill (flip when it puffs up after 2-3 min) or in oven, gently dusting off excess flour/starch. It's ready when golden brown and puffed.
  12. Store in a tortilla warmer or in a bowl with a cloth on top.
Enjoy! I know I do each time I make these, and never even think about a "regular" pita, naan, etc. This is the preferred choice in my house amongst my family and friends. Thank you Wendy G. K. of Celiacs in the House for coming to my class, blogging about it, and providing these beautiful photographs! Let me know how it works for you.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

17 comments:

Rita said...

There is a packet of Chebe in the pantry. My usual results (various flavors) range from gummy tough to ooey gluey. Respect the process - I am going to try this.

WendyGK said...

As one of the students in class who was skeptical, I became a believer. I'll try them at home this week and let you know how they come out, but if a group of inexperienced young cooks can pull it off in your class, I'm sure I can at home. Thanks for sharing the detailed instructions.

Simply...Gluten-free said...

Great post, thanks for all the detail. Yum!

denielles_rose said...

How important are the eggs in this recipe? Before going GF, my favorite recipe was pita bread. It worked and tasted great every time with just flour, water, salt and a little oil. Every GF attempt I have made leads to a dense flatbread, and not fluffy pita. I prefer not to use eggs, but if that is the secret, I can be persuaded.

Erin Swing said...

There is an easy swap out for eggs. For 1 large egg (50 grams) = 15 grams flax seed meal + 35 grams hot water. Mix and allow to gel. Adds omega-3's and some fiber. I find that if I for for the flax-gel, it's helpful to add in another 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of baking soda. A total of 2 teaspoon (10 grams) to get it super fluffy. Another trick is once you form the shape, using oiled hands, dust with a small amount of tapioca flour -> fluff-a-tronic!

Do NOT refrigerate this bread. It will dry out in the fridge w/in 2 days. Any bread will. Store any baked good in the freezer. Take out & heat up individually. Works like a charm.

denielles_rose said...

I am really finding this to be gummy. I tried the flax meal to replace the eggs, and it was inedible. So, I tried it using the eggs... and it is a little better. But, when I pull the bread apart it looks like there is gelatin in it. What gives it this quality, and is there a way around it?

denielles_rose said...

I am finding this recipe is very gummy. First, I tried the flax meal as an egg replacement, and it was inedible. The center was like gelatin. So, I redid the recipe and used eggs... and it is a bit better... but when I go to break the bread it looks like gelatin stretching. What causes this, and is there a way to prevent it?

Erin Swing said...

I have made this with the flaxmeal for eggs and it is more gummy in the center. The trick is to roll it out thin, about 1/4 inch. Lightly dust w/ chebe or tapioca flour. Bake at 425 minutes for 10-12 minutes. Can also try cutting the sub for 1 egg = 10 grams flax meal + 40 water heated.

Gluten Freedom, LLC said...

This recipe was AMAZING!! I use chebe all the time, but hadn't thought of making pitas. I'd been looking for a pita substitute and this was wonderful!!! We also cooked it over the grill. I even combined 2 different chebe mixes b/c that's all that I had. I followed your baking powder rule and it worked. Thank you! One of these days I'll get to blogging about it and put some pictures up!

Anonymous said...

Searched for Chebe brand bread mixes but came up empty - they don't seem to be available here in the Canadian Maritimes. Assuming it's based on the Brazilian Pão de Queijo, sounds like a terrific recipe and can't wait to try it! Thanks Erin! Regards, Brigitte (in Halifax)

DKinney said...

Try ordering either from amazon.com or http://www.Chebe.com if unable to find in the Canadian maritimes.

Natalie said...

Are you talking about using Chebe flat bread mix or the all purpose mix?

Erin Swing said...

Every kind of Chebe mix, the process is the same. I recommend using +1 teaspoon of baking powder for extra rise.

Anonymous said...

Can I use a griddle for these? I don't have a grill. Since tortillas puff up on a hot griddle, wouldn't this happen for pitas too?
Thanks

Erin Swing said...

Sure, as long as it's hot. Even an oven at 450*F should work well.

TonyD said...

I just made these...using the Chebe Bread Mix & olive oil (Berio) and coconut milk as the liquid (SoDelicious sugar free vanilla in aseptic container.) I added the extra tsp of baking powder and then I grilled them on BBQ, and they were great.

I didn't add any extra liquid or extra flour. I just worked the dough in my hands for a while to get it well mixed.

They weren't tough, they weren't gummy, and they weren't gluey. Mostly just bread-like. Thanks.

TonyD said...

I've now been making this recipe weekly for months -- except that I've been doubling the recipe. I discovered: The dough gets very sticky in the refrigerator - so I've added an extra cup of tapioca flour to each batch. And I've been mixing with the dough hook on my Kitchen Aide mixer, so that I could mix in all that flour. I was also just reading about how all US wheat is chemically modified (chemical mutagenesis), and people who visit France often have no wheat intolerance issues while they are there. So I've just started mixing in flour that I ordered from France. I don't know if it really helps, but it is nice to know that I'm using flour that has been grown using unmutated seeds.