Homemade Pita Bread and Hummus
Paula learned how to make perfect pita bread! I possibly love her even more now.
It took a lot of trial and “error,” but without any real errors, since her pita bread has always been successfully delicious, just not always successfully puffy, as good pita bread should be. Now that we’ve finally cracked the code, it’s time to share the recipe with you.
But first! Why you should make your own hummus:
I’ve gotten a lot of comments over the past few pesto-related posts about how I’ve inspired people to make homemade pesto. I’m here to say that hummus is another recipe you should add to your homemade repertoire. Unless you don’t own either a blender or a food processor– but even then, you could possibly borrow your neighbor’s… (I’ve done it.) The point is, hummus is pretty painless to make, and you can make it your way. No preservatives; you choose all of the ingredients; and you can mix things up a little: try making avocado hummus, smoky chipotle hummus, or– another favorite in our house– cilantro/jalapeño hummus (the recipe I am waiting to post until I’ve pickled my own jalapeño peppers).
I also have an entirely different (chickpea-less!) hummus recipe coming your way soon… but that’s another blog post.
Today’s version is my go-to traditional hummus recipe, with one non-traditional ingredient: Labne (soft Kefir cheese) or thick Greek yogurt. I love the creamy richness that a few good dollops of Greek yogurt give to the savory chickpea dip. Even if you don’t have Greek yogurt on hand, a spoonful or two of any regular, un-strained plain (dairy or soy) yogurt will also give the hummus a nice texture and tang. Top with a drizzle of good olive oil, and a sprinkling of paprika and pine nuts for the added fancy factor, then enjoy with fresh-baked pita. Or a carrot stick. Or a spoon.
But let’s not get side-tracked here. This post is really all about pita. Paula’s recipe below has been adapted from several different sources– including The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison– and through trial and error, as I mentioned. Her tricks to great pita bread include:
- Roll the pita out thinly, evenly, and in as round a shape as possible.
- Bake it on a pizza stone, set in the lowest rack of your oven.
- Make sure the oven is at 500 degrees. Some recipes state otherwise, but we want it hot.
And if you don’t end up with perfectly puffy pita on your first or second try, don’t despair! It will still be good to eat, even if it’s not ideal for a pita pocket sandwich– you’ll still have delicious bread, fresh from the oven, for dipping in hummus or olive oil, and you can always bake it into thick pita chips.
Stay tuned for another post soon with our– ok, Paula’s– easy baked falafel recipe and my favorite way to make tzatziki (garlicky yogurt sauce). We take Middle Eastern feasts quite seriously around here.
p.s. I recently wrote about how I used to buy $3 department store cans of chickpeas when I lived in rural, western Japan… The tahini situation, though, was even worse: it was nowhere to be found. So for my weekly batch of blended hummus, I substituted a tablespoon of Japanese toasted sesame oil for the tahini– problem solved!
Homemade Pita Bread
(Makes 10 pitas)
~ 2 tsp. yeast
~ 1 cup warm water
~ 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
~ 1 1/2 cup white flour
~ 1 tsp. of salt
~ 1 tsp. of honey
~ 1 Tbsp. of olive oil
~ additional olive oil (or olive oil spray) for proofing the bowl
How to make it:
1. Add yeast to warm water and mix, then allow it to sit and become foamy. Meanwhile, combine the flours and salt in a large bowl.
2. Add the water and yeast mixture to the dry ingredients and start mixing the dough by hand or with a rubber spatula. Add honey and olive oil and continue to mix. Once the flour is fully incorporated into the dough, transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter/surface for kneading. Knead for 8-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth. Place in a large, lightly oiled bowl, spray the top of the dough lightly with olive oil, and cover with plastic wrap to proof for 45-60 minutes.
3. When the dough has nearly doubled in size, place your baking stone onto the lowest rack in your oven and pre-heat to 500 degrees.
4. Once the oven is pre-heated and the dough has doubled in size, take your dough and divide it, using a dough scraper, into 10 balls. Place 8 balls under a damp, clean towel (or plastic wrap) so they don’t dry out as you work. Roll two pitas out into circles.* Place them onto the baking stone and bake for 4 minutes, turning them over after 2 minutes. Continue gradually rolling and baking two at a time, until done. Place pitas into a towel to keep warm, or transfer to a plastic bag once they’re completely cooled, and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. (Best served warm on the first day with falafel and tzatziki or hummus!)
* Paula says: I’m horrible at this, my pitas are always shaped like states; I’m pretty sure I nearly created a Texas-shaped pita the last time I rolled some.
Chickpea Hummus with Labne/Greek Yogurt
~ 1-2 cloves garlic (or more, to taste)
~ 2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 can, which is 1 3/4 cup)
~ 1 1/2 Tbsp. tahini (or 1 Tbsp. sesame oil)
~ 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
~ 3-4 Tbsp. Labne/Greek yogurt or plain yogurt
~ several Tbsp. olive oil, to taste, plus more for drizzling over at the end
~ sea salt, to taste
~ black pepper, to taste
~ paprika, to garnish
~ pine nuts, to garnish
How to make it:
1. Pulse the garlic a few times in a food processor or blender, then add the chickpeas, tahini, and lemon juice, and pulse a few more times.
2. Add the yogurt, then blend until nearly smooth. Pour in olive oil gradually– while processing if possible– and continue to blend. Season with salt and pepper; taste and adjust seasonings– adding more yogurt or lemon juice if necessary– then transfer to a bowl.
3. Top with a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of paprika and pine nuts. Serve with warm pita bread.
Related recipe posts:
> Pita Chips with Labne Olive Oil Dip
> Shepherd’s Salad (Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Red Onion, and Feta)
> Avocado Hummus