It's been a long time since I've made bread.
But this began with the hummus.
Hummus from scratch was one of the first things I made as a sophomore in college as I was exploring what it meant to cook for myself. I made it in the winter, similar to this one, as a healthier snack option than the box of Wheat Thins from Costco that my roommate Mackenzie and I went through within days. If memory serves correctly, I tried to put spinach in that hummus but it did not bode well. It was not smooth, it was not homogenized. I had clearly done something wrong but with no clue as to what that was. Maybe it was the canned chickpeas or my food processor but after that experience, I didn't trust my hummus making skills.
A year or two passed and I tried again. That time sans spinach and with just chickpeas (of the dried variety) which was a major improvement on taste and texture, but it was still on the chunky side. I didn't know what tahini was so I decided to omit it. Unfortunately, I didn't realize it was a key ingredient until the fourth iteration.
In the third iteration, I had read that peeling chickpeas was the way to go. So after boiling some dried chickpeas, I painstakingly stood over the sink and popped the skin off of each of those suckers. It was definitely smooth but was a bit too thick and required more time than I wanted to spend to make hummus. Waiting overnight for the chickpeas to soak was long enough. But I was still proud of it. It was smooth and tasty!
A few months later, I tried again, after reading Molly's hilarious post about hummus, I was relieved to see that her method did not include removing the skin from chickpeas. I like hummus, but I'm not sure I quite had that dedication in me to do it each and every time. And that time, I got it down to a beautifully silky smooth hummus which is delightfully warm from the just cooked chickpeas and with a generous portion of tahini and a good drizzle of olive oil. It was simple, it was easy and it was hummus in it's purest form. The difference between this one and all of the rest is the amount of tahini and water. The tahini adds another dimension of flavor and the water helps smooth it all out to a consistency comparable to spreadable butter.
After reading Molly's new book, I remembered it again. And of course pita bread, how could I forget pita bread??
When I first got into bread making, pita bread was one of the breads that I repeatedly made and would try to master every time. Sometimes they would puff and sometimes they wouldn't. Some rounds were fluffier than other. I compared the oven versus the stove. But, then, somewhere along the road, I got distracted by fancier breads and pita bread was forgotten. From my pita bread phase, I remembered that the oven was really key to getting them to puff and have a pocket. A pan sometimes doesn't get quite hot enough to puff without burning. This is also one of the easiest and most forgivable doughs to work with. It has no dairy and it's very similar to pizza dough. The end result is a fluffy round that is perfect fresh out of the oven and dipped in hummus.
This pita dough is so incredibly soft when kneading and shaping that you know it means fluffy pita rounds are bound to come out of the oven.
While eating hummus with vegetables is definitely the healthier option, I'm more keen on the idea of it paired with pita bread. There's something about dipping a fluffy piece of bread in silky hummus that is a lot more satisfying than dipping a watery, crunchy cucumber in a vat of freshly made hummus.
And if that isn't enough, pita bread and Nutella are another match made in heaven.
Proof that perseverance and repetition will lead to improved results each and every time.
Pita Bread with Hummus
From Molly on the Range
Yields: about 2 cups hummus and 12 pita rounds
1 cup dried chickpeas
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup tahini
¾ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 cloves garlic (optional)
¼ cup cold water
Olive oil, for drizzling
1½ cups warm water
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
1½ tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
3¾ cups flour (bread or all-purpose)
In a medium bowl, cover the chickpeas with enough water to reach 2 inches above the height of the chickpeas and soak them for 12 hours.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas and place them in a large saucepan with the baking soda. Cover them with 1 to 2 inches water and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the chickpeas are very soft, about 2 hours. Drain them and let cool slightly, then transfer to a food processor.
Add the lemon juice, tahini, salt, and the garlic (if using) and blend until very smooth, about 1 minute. With the motor running, drizzle in the water and continue to blend for 2 to 3 more minutes. Taste and season with additional salt if needed.
Transfer to a serving dish and top with a drizzle of olive oil.
Any leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge with a thin layer of olive oil coating the top. This will prevent it from drying out. Use within 3 days.
In a large bowl, mix together water, yeast and sugar. Set aside to proof for 5-10 minutes. Once foamy, add in the salt and oil, then add in 2 cups of flour. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth. Gradually add in the rest of the flour, ½ cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides and is no longer sticky. Dump out onto a floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes, adding a little bit of flour as needed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn it once or twice to coat it in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise to room temperature until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Turn the dough out on to a clean work surface and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Mold each piece into a ball by stretching the top and tucking the edges under. Place the balls 1 inch apart on a piece of parchment paper or non-stick baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap, and let them rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 500ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or non-stick baking sheets.
With a rolling pin, roll out the balls of dough into rounds, ¼ inch thick. Place them on the baking sheets and bake until cooked through and puffy. 5 minutes will get them puffy but not browned. 7-8 minutes will get them puffy and browned.
Cool on rack. Best eaten fresh out of the oven but can be stored in an airtight container or zip-top bag. Freezer works too!