In French it’s maison. In Spanish, casero. Homemade. It’s become a bit of a running theme of this blog, eh?
When I started De La Casa I embraced the idea of making as much as possible from scratch – hence titling it from the home. Perhaps it was for budget reasons (both being students for our first year of marriage) or perhaps because I took up this ridiculous hobby in reading the labels of bought food items. I mean, who does that? Why would anyone want to know what’s in what we eat? Well, I thought I did. And I sure do even more so now!
Living North of 60 I am pretty much forced to pursue homemade. If I want tomato pasta sauce, I need to simmer it myself. If I want sushi, I need to roll it myself. If I want a fresh loaf of sandwich bread I need to knead and bake it myself. And if, for a Sunday morning breakfast, I want to grace J with wholemeal bagels topped with chunky raspberry jam and a sweep of cream cheese, I have to plan ahead, and make them. Along with the jam.
Pita pockets were one of those things neither J nor I ever really fancied. They always seemed stale even the day they were bought, and had a tendency to tear as soon as you laid a finger on them. But I’ve had this niggling desire to try recreating a warm chickpea dish, basically an unprocessed hummus, I shared one afternoon with my best friend at a vegetarian restaurant in Madrid, Spain for menú del día.
As soon as I decided pita pockets would be the chosen vessel, no time passed before the yeast was activated and the dough kneaded (or, well Kitchen Aided). A sleepover in the refrigerator soured the dough and the following day we were treated to fresh, soft and easily openable pita pockets! The first bite into the pita, housing the warm chickpeas and a dollop of garlic yoghurt, and J was lost for words. I can’t believe you MADE pita pockets.
I dare you. Bake something from scratch that you never thought you would. I tell you, someone will be impressed, if not simply yourself.
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
1 tbsp. honey
1¼ cups warm water (105˚-115˚ F), divided
1½ cups bread flour, divided
1½ cups whole wheat flour, divided
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
Cornmeal, for sprinkling
In the bowl of a stand mixer*, combine the yeast, honey and ½ cup of the water. Stir gently to blend. Whisk ¼ cup of the bread flour and ¼ cup of the whole wheat flour into the yeast mixture until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes.
Remove the plastic wrap and return the bowl to the mixer stand, fitted with the dough hook. Add in the remaining ¾ cup of warm water, 1¼ cups bread flour, 1¼ cups whole wheat flour, olive oil and salt. Knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Transfer the ball of dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat, and let rise in a warm draft-free place, about 1 hour, until doubled in bulk. Optional: place in refrigerator overnight or up to 3 days. For the first few of hours in fridge, press down lightly to deflate dough every hour. I refrigerated mine and found the resulting pitas had a beautiful, almost sour taste.
Place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 500˚ F.
Once the dough has risen, transfer to a lightly floured work surface, punch down the dough and divide into 8 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Flatten one ball at a time into a disk, then stretch out into a 6½-7 inch circle. Transfer the rounds to a baking sheet lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Once all the rounds have been shaped, loosely cover with clean kitchen towels. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, until slightly puffy.
Bake 2 minutes, until puffed and pale golden. Gently flip the pitas over using tongs and bake 1 minute more. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Repeat with the remaining pitas. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze.
*As always, anything mixed in a stand mixer can be mixed by hand.