Pitas and Hummus

Pitas are one of the only breads I still occasionally purchase at the store.  But oh they are so much better freshly baked.  A little more time-consuming than a single loaf, but not that much difficult overall. If you've never made them before, give it a try!  They also freeze well.

Since I had my Flatbreads book out earlier this week, I pulled it out again for these  Most pita recipes are pretty straightforward, a few have a pre-ferment stage that I think helps with flavor and texture, but I've also skipped it when pressed for time. In this case I put about half the flour and yeast, and most of the water into a sponge that sat in my fridge during the day.  In late afternoon I added the rest of the yeast and flour, and a little more water.  Knead, and let rise for an hour or so, until doubled.

My method after the initial rise is to divide the dough into ~ 4.25 ounce pieces, form balls, and let them rest for 15 minutes or so.  Then I roll out gently into 8 or 9 inch circles.  One key to good pocket formation is not to over-work the dough at this stage, and leave them a generous 1/4 inch thick.

I give the pitas a final proof of 15-25 minutes while the oven is heating up.  Bake at 450 degrees for 5-6 minutes.  They won't start to puff for about 4 minutes (don't worry!) and then I let them go another minute or two after that.  Pitas can also be baked on a cast-iron skillet (flip once to get them to puff).  I find it faster in the oven because I can do so many at once, but in hot weather if you don't want to warm up your kitchen, it's a good option.

I have a big stone and can fit six at once.  They would also do fine on a baking sheet.

I discovered a homegrown add-in to hummus last fall, and I froze quite a few packs of roasted veggies just for this purpose.  Basically I add 2 cups of misc. roasted veggies (tomatoes, eggplant, onions, garlic, peppers) to my standard hummus recipe.  It's sweeter and has more depth than the plain version, and though it doesn't photograph well it's a lovely salmon color.

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