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I have made roti a couple of times now, and each time have found that I can't get the dough super thin before it tears in order to fold it correctly. I'm using this recipe:

http://chefinyou.com/2009/11/roti-canai-recipe/

And using salted butter instead of ghee.

When it gets to the dough stretching phase, I can get it thin but not super thin. After I've folded it it's at least a cm thick and I have to roll it such that it's flat enough for cooking.

How do I get my dough super thin and stretchy?

it also ends up very crispy and doesn't tear like it should after cooking. What do you think I'm doing wrong?

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  • Are you giving it the 2 hour rest? You might even try putting it in the fridge overnight.
    – Jolenealaska
    Apr 26 '14 at 22:38
  • yes, I am giving it the 2 hour rest
    – user17950
    Apr 27 '14 at 6:15
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I would guess your main problem is the protein in the flour. To get that stretchy dough that will not tear you need bread flour. Your water, the proportion between kneading and resting of the dough, and the salt also matter. The recipe you are using has way too much fat in the dough. The leaner version suggested by bonCodigo is closer to the needed proportions.

YouTube has a video channel on roti canai.

Flour. You can buy roti flour from an ethnic grocery store, but many of the chain supermarkets in the US now carry bread flour. It has higher protein content without being whole grain. Different flours have different proportions of gluten. Those with lower content (called weak flours) being better for cakes and those higher content (strong flours), better for breads. Gluten is not one protein, but a mixture of two protein families: gliadins, which give the dough its plasticity, and glutenins, which give the dough its strength. Different strains of wheat have different ratios of gliadins to glutenins, hence the need to find an appropriate flour. In the US and Canada, high protein flours tend to be optimized for loaf breads and not flat breads, so some hunting around for a good brand may be needed.

Ghee The recipes on the net vary dramatically in the amount of fat added to the dough. The basic process of dough making is to get the water to break up the gluten in the flour and then stretch those giant molecules to create a network of stringy, tangled molecules. Too much fat interferes with this process. About 5g of fat for every 100g of flour is a good ratio. As ghee adds flavor, the trick to make a dough with higher ghee content is to think of it as a croissant and fold the fat in after the dough has incorporated some water. This is done by brushing the ghee in later stages of stretch and fold.

Kneading and resting Making the network of gluten proteins requires energetic changes. Lots of water and rest could do it (as in no-knead breads) and so could a little water, a little rest, and a lot of kneading. With flat breads one does not need to wait for the yeasts to create the bubbles in the dough. The resting is for the water to do its work of untangling the gluten. The trick is to know if the water activity, resting, and kneading have brought the dough to the right point. There are many dough tests that are better explained through a video. The dough in the leaner recipe is a wetter dough that is a bit trickier to knead by hand. The basic idea is to place it on an oiled countertop, pinch a corner, and fold it over. Repeat a few times and it will become easier to handle without having to add extra flour as it often suggested.

Water. Don't use tap water. It may be too alkaline, to hard, or too chlorinated. Andrew Whitley in his Bread Matters book has a chapter on how guilty he felt using Evian to make his bread, but it improved his bread. For flat breads one is less worried that the chlorine in the water will kill the yeast, but depending on your tap water composition, the other chemicals could be an issue.

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  • I've been using locally produced white bread flour: imgur.com/a/GTucb. It is bread flour, how do I know if it will work for flad bread?
    – user17950
    May 4 '14 at 18:56
  • @StaceyAnne For this roti the usual bread flour/wheat flour would do. Unless you are making another roti called "chapati" or "dosa" then that's a different case.
    – bonCodigo
    May 4 '14 at 21:59
  • Flour seems good. Try following the steps on the leaner version. If the dough feels wet, try folding it without adding more flour, like in the video. Then knead, knead, knead. By hand it's hard to over knead.
    – papin
    May 5 '14 at 0:26
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Did you just try to make that rotational "flip" in the air? :)

Let's get to the business! I spent good number of years in both Malaysia and Singapore. If you know this region - it's just a "Prata planet". Prata is the same roti called as Roti Canai in Malaysia.

After making the dough, the best results are aquired by keeping it over-night. Prepare your dough in the evening around 10pm and use it in the morning. Or similar time span - but 2 hours isn't enough.

My tips:

  1. Make small pieces out of the dough
  2. Oil/Ghee them
  3. Cover and leave for the hours stated

References:

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  • 1
    I spent 4 months in Malaysia and Singapore and absolutely fell in love with that part of the world and its food. Roti Telur (egg) was my staple breakfast for that time. nom!
    – user17950
    May 4 '14 at 18:40
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    Awesome :) seems like you need the leaner version of prata. Further making bread (what we buy from bakery) is different from making prata. What you need to achieve is the stretchy and wet dough. But not watery.
    – bonCodigo
    May 4 '14 at 22:05
  • @StaceyAnne recently I was looking into chemistry related to break making. It seems Iodine has been replaced by Bromine which adds a risk to health. Industrial bakers use it for "elasticity"..,sigh! So I strongly recommend you to take a good look at the wheat flour you buy for "GMO" wheat and "Bromide" based preservatives.
    – bonCodigo
    Oct 1 '14 at 4:09
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I boil my water and found that kneading the dough with boiling hot water and adding little melted butter makes it very soft.

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