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Trying to make cornmeal flatbread that will wrap/fold like pita

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austintexican's picture
austintexican

Trying to make cornmeal flatbread that will wrap/fold like pita

Hi everyone, this is my first post on Fresh Loaf,

I'm trying to make a flatbread that tastes like mild cornbread (somewhere between an earthy, "maizey" white masa tortilla and the sweet yellow cornbread I grew up eating) that has the physical properties of pita bread, in that it is fluffy and breadlike, yet easly folds so that you can wrap it around fillings.

So far, I'm getting the taste and fluffy breadiness I want from the recipe below, but the flatbreads break and crumble when I try to fold them, even though the crust is relatively soft and they will flex a bit.

I'm a complete baking noob, so I'm probably missing some basic steps. Here's the recipe, loosely based on this 40 minute bun recipe, the only bread besides pizza crust I've successfully done so far (besides a gazillion cornbreads and tortillas).

  • 1 package Fleischmann’s RapidRise Yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour (Gold Medal Better-for-Bread unbleached)
  • 2 cups white cornmeal (masa de harina)
  1. Mix all ingredients.
  2. Let KiktchenAid work on it for ten minutes, on low with dough hook.
  3. Pour very sticky mess onto counter, attempt to separate into ten equal portions. (Austin is very humid, btw.)
  4. Make a huge mess with dry flour forming the portions into balls.
  5. As delicately as possible, flatten and shape them by hand into circular flatbreads.
  6. Put them on a lightly greased cookie sheet, cover with warm, moist linen towel, set sheet on stove for 10-15 minutes while the oven heats to 425F.
  7. Cook until lightly browned, about another 10-15 minutes.

That's it. Like I said, they taste pretty good, but they aren't nearly as flexible as pita bread, probably because of the cornmeal. Again, I'd be very thankful for any ideas.

Cheers :)

 

cranbo's picture
cranbo

I'm thinking that amount of cornmeal is not going to permit you to make a flexible fluffy bread; you won't have enough gluten. 

Try reducing the cornmeal more; by weight, I'm guessing 50% of your flour weight. To keep the corn flavor, try pureeing some fresh (or frozen & thawed) corn kernels in a blender, and reducing the amount of water slightly.

If it's too sticky, reduce the water, or add more flour.

Another thought: you may want to instead start with a pita recipe, and start by adding cornmeal and/or pureed corn to get the flavor right. 

Keep us posted. 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

or at least 50%.  Like cranbo says above.  

Ever make creamed corn?  Try putting some fresh cut sweetcorn and the scrapings into the dough.  And if you water log the cob and wring it out, you got your liquid with starch.  But you need gluten (or something similar) to hold the whole thing together or they will tear.

Mini

austintexican's picture
austintexican

Thanks for responding cranbo and mini oven :)

I'm going to give those ideas a try, and I'm also going to try using yellow cornmeal instead of masa. Thanks again!

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Just some ideas -

I used to make a corn crepe using a combination of masa and flour and eggs and milk, but it was cooked like a crepe. You could go that direction but I think you want something that has more of a tortilla-like flexibility but with some amount interior crumb.  Mini is right on the mark with her observation that you need some gluten.  I would go to a high gluten flour and mix the heck out of it (use the paddle not the dough hook) with the yeast, water and salt but no sugar, oil, or corn flour.  When you see stringy gluten strands forming, add your sugar, oil, and masa until it becomes a soft dough.  Let it bulk ferment and give it a couple of stretch and fold steps to strengthen it up. The issue then will be forming flat "loaves".  Without actually doing the experiment I can't predict what the texture of the dough will be after it has had some gluten development but includes that much corn flour.  I might be inclined to reverse the proportions of flour to masa to start with and see if that works out. 

Yellow corn meal will probably cut the gluten badly enough that you will not get any effective flexibility so you won't be able to roll it up after it is baked, so I suggest sticking to the much finer masa.  I also find that the flavor of the masa is more like corn than yellow corn meal.

I also like the suggestion to use real corn - perhaps take a package of frozen corn and microwave a cup or so then puree it in your Vitamix blender for three minutes with the water called for in the recipe (enough so that it flows in the blender).  Then use that as both your corn and your liquid in the dough.

A pita dough is actually pretty stiff, so the suggestion that you start at that end of the spectrum might also provide insights as you add corn or masa in place of some of the wheat flour.  After a few trials you will find the boundary between pita and the corn bread you are looking for.

Doc

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

There's a recipe at the King Arthur site for broa, a Portugese bread that uses corn meal as part of the formula. The quantity isn't as high a proportion as in your recipe but it does work. I used it a basis for a loaf where I substituted low fat yogurt for some of the dairy ingredients. Considering that pita bread recipes read very close to loaf recipes, it should be possible to adapt this recipe for your purpose with some experimentation.

You can also look up this older thread from some time back about broa recipes.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2473/looking-recipe-portugese-bread

austintexican's picture
austintexican

Wow, thanks Doc and Postal! I'll make another attempt soon and post the results here.

Thanks again everyone!