I’ve been working on the best recipe for fresh pitas for just over a month since posting the Cannellini Beans, Artichoke and Fresh Rosemary Dip . I’ve tried bread flour, white flour, whole wheat flours. I’ve tried direct in the oven, on a hot pizza stone, and on a hot metal sheet pan. I’ve created completely by hand, used a stand mixer and used a food processor. It’s been a month long Lane vs. Pita Challenge. At the end of the day, they’ve all been beautiful and they’ve all tasted good. As far as the pockets go, well, I’ve never achieved a perfect puff suitable for stuffing. If I want to serve actual pita pockets, I’ll be buying them at the store, I admit defeat. As far as pita bread or pita chips go, I claim victory. The fresh whole wheat are very good, but I think the best flavor lies in a combo of white flour and whole wheat flour. Many of you will ask why on earth I would even attempt to make pitas from scratch. There are two primary reasons. I’m kind of obsessed with magic – not like magic shows or the bunny in the hat thing – but when something seems a totally unreasonable end result from meager beginning elements. And the second is I just love cooking. I literally feel better standing in my kitchen creating something. And the longer it takes to make it, strangely, the better I feel. Pitas take care of both of these things. It’s unfathomable to me still that you can take flour, salt, water, yeast and olive oil and create a pita. It feels like I *am* magic. I’ve suddenly become Harriet Potter of the Kitchen or something. And they take a very long time. So – you know 3 and a half hours later, you have like 8 fresh pitas. And you haven’t even toasted any for chips yet. It’s crazy, and I’m insane. But it’s a perfect project for me.
We’ve also had quite a bit of hummus this month. And we’ve decided on a winner. More lemon, sauteed onions, garlic and tahini, and lots of water for a fluffier consistency. If you want a bigger bite on your hummus, leave the garlic raw like I did in this summer’s chive hummus . Or try out a half and half method. Hummus, unlike pita bread, is quick and rather painless. And it can be ever changing, today one way, tomorrow tweaked just a little bit. Variations are endless.
Fresh White Whole Wheat Pitas
1.5 c. white whole wheat flour
1.5 c. unbleached white flour
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
3 tsp active dry yeast
1 and 1/4 c. water
2 tbsp olive oil
Preheat bowl to stand mixer by running it under water that’s just a little bit warm. Combine dry ingredients in a stand mixer. Combine water and oil in a measuring cup, then slowly add to the mixer, while it is running at a low speed. When the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, stop. Form a complete ball and transfer to a floured work surface to knead. Knead dough, by pushing out with the heel of your hand, then folding over the top half, then pushing the middle down with three fingers, then turn dough 1/4 turn, fold down top again, then push down in middle. Continue this process for about 10 minutes. Form a ball of dough, then use your hands to coat the outside with olive oil. Place the dough in a bowl, cover with saran wrap and let stand in a warm place 1 and a half hours. I’ve been cooking something in my oven during this time, and leaving the bowl in the center of the stove top as my “warm” place for dough rising.
Preheat oven to 475. Knead dough 5 times, then divide in to 8 even triangles of pie. Roll each triangle into a ball, then cover with a damp towel for 30 minutes. Roll into circles with rolling pin, to a very thin size. Heat an upside down cookie sheet in oven. Place pitas one or two circles at a time in the oven for about 4 minutes. Check to see if lightly browned, then pull from oven and let cool in another towel, this one dry.
If you want to make chips, cut into strips, then brush both sides generously with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake for 8 minutes or until crisp at 400.
1 yellow onion, sliced and chopped
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 c. tahini
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
1/3 c. water
1 tsp kosher salt
In a saute pan, saute onion for four minutes, add garlic, saute another minute, add tahini, saute another minute. In a food processor, combine garbanzo beans, onion mixture, and lemon juice. Turn food processor on for 1 minute, then begin drizzling olive oil through the top while running. Drizzle water through in a similar manner. Add salt from top. Serve chilled.