Bread scares me! It really does. It’s one of those food stuffs where the whole is truly greater than the sum of the parts. To get to the whole however, you have to put the parts though a series of steps that have become quasi-religious with superstitions and myths. There are just so many factors to take into account and so many places where it can go wrong; The kneading, over proving, under proving, too much salt, the temperature of the water, the temperature of the oven, GAH! It’s enough to make you rush out to your local bakery.
But this is one fear I want to conquer. I want to fill my house with the smell of baking bread. I want great golden crusts to take centre place at my dinner table and I want to smile smugly when people asked me where I buy my bread. Most of all though I want to eat that first hot, butter-melted slice of bread. I’m going to start small with this pita bread recipe and its ubiquitous companion houmous , but watch this space. I WILL conquer bread!
- 225 gm of white bread flour
- 7 gms of instant yeast
- 1 Tbs of olive oil
- 1/2 a tsp of salt
- 160 ml of luke warm water
For the Houmous:
- 1 can of chickpeas
- 1 Tbs of Tahini
- 1 small clove of garlic
- 1 Tbs of lemon juice
- 2 Tbs of olive oil
- Cumin to taste (about 1 tsp)
Add the flour, olive oil, salt and yeast to a large bowl and mix well. Slowly add the water a bit at a time and stir until it comes together in a sticky dough. Place the dough onto a well floured surface and kneed the dough for ten minutes. Time this! It isn’t something you want to skimp on.
After ten minutes of kneading, the dough should be considerably smoother and it should spring back if lightly poked. Place it in a clean bowl, cover with clingfilm or a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for an hour.
After an hour, the dough should have doubled in size. Punch it back down and then divide the dough into six to eight balls. Cover the balls and leave them to rest for five minutes and then, on a floured surface, roll them out into flat circles. The circles should be no more than five mm high. Cover the circles with a tea towel or cling film and leave to prove for a further thirty minutes. At this stage, heat the oven to 230°C and place a baking tray in the oven to heat up.
This would be the perfect time to make the houmous. I must apologise for not having any pictures on the houmous, but there really isn’t much to photograph. Drain the chickpeas, but keep the liquid back in reserve. Add all the ingredients for the houmous into a food processor or blender and turn it on. Once it has combined, slowly add the reserved chickpea liquid a bit at a time until you get the desired texture. Taste the oh-so-awesome, creamy goodness and add more cumin or salt to taste.
After thirty minutes, place the dough rounds on the hot baking tray and put the tray back in the oven. Bake the pitas for six minutes if you like a light soft crust and for ten if it’s a crispier brown crust you want.