Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sourdough Flatbread (and Accidental Pita) with Almond Hummus

I used my sourdough starter to make flatbread today. It came out really well except the dough didn't do much rising despite the heat and humidity. Also, my starter smells very strongly of white vinegar and is less bubbly than it has been, though I read about that and found out that it's nothing to be to scared about. Another site (lost the link, sorry) indicated to me that it's relatively normal in our weather conditions and just means the acetic acid bacteria are kind of running the show in the starter. I'm not sure how to fix that or if it needs fixing... more flour, I think. If it goes South, then I'll compost it and start another one... nothing really lost. Anyway, I whipped up a nice loaf with it the day before yesterday (including nutritional yeast and yogurt!) and some splendid flatbreads today, about three quarters of which probably qualify as pita bread or some other kind of pocket bread since that's what they did. It was fun watching them puff up in the skillet like little balloons, but I have no clear idea of how I achieved it. Kitchen science, a likely up-and-coming feature on this blog, might help me figure it out. The process for making this flatbread was essentially the same as for the last flatbread except the only liquid I added was water, I did it with sourdough starter instead of packaged yeast (roughly 2 flours, 1 starter, and 1 water, by weight, does it apparently, or just fiddle with it until it feels right and then knead the heck out of it like I do).
sourdough flatbread pitaOther than the fact that my flatbreads turned mostly into pocket breads, the most exciting part of our little dinner today was the hummus. I really like adding things to hummus, and mentioned before, in fact, that hummus is a "platform" dish for me. What I mean by a platform dish is that the basic recipe serves as a platform for many delicious experiments to be showcased. Today was nothing too inspired but came out quite nice: I added almonds and just a few drops of sweet almond oil. Essentially, I added about two dozen raw, unsalted almonds in the very initial stage of making the hummus, following the same recipe and protocol as in the previous post on the topic. Specifically, I put the almonds into the food processor with the sesame seeds and ground them up until they were a very fine dusty, almost pasty stuff. Then I started building the hummus on top of that, adding a little oil when it was time to add oil. It came out very nice because of the pleasantly subtle, vaguely sweet flavor of the almonds and the smooth texture that they imparted. My wife stated that she could tell it was somehow different and that she liked it, but that she wouldn't have ever guessed that I put almonds in there. For what it's worth, I suppose I could have used almond butter if I had any, but that stuff's expensive, so I never have any.

I wish I could say that I stuffed my little breads with all kinds of interesting things, but they didn't have that kind of a chance. In fact, almost half of them were gone before the hummus was even made... several having gone pretty much straight to being eaten as quickly as the cooled enough to be handled.

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