I've made so much not-so-great hummus in my life that I almost stopped trying to make it altogether.
It probably started after high school, when I first had really soft, savory hummus at a Mediterranean restaurant in my college town. I'd never really had Mediterranean or Middle Eastern food until then, and the plate of hummus with soft pita bread, briny Kalamata olives, tomatoes and cucumbers was a revelation.
Back in my apartment, I'd pull out a blender and open cans of chickpeas, chop a bunch of garlic and squeeze my own lemon juice to try to replicate it, but with grainy, sour results. These feeble attempts continued into the internet era, where I'm sure plenty of good recipes were at my fingertips, but I was too distracted by other cooking projects to keep trying. Once I started living in Austin, I'd treat myself to the hummus from Phoenicia Bakery or the Mediterranean Chef's amazing Grandma's Humus.
That Austin-made product is still my favorite store-bought hummus, but last week, a jar of tahini in my pantry inspired me to try making my own for the first time in a long time. For guidance, I pulled out a copy of David Tamarkin's "Cook90" from the bookshelf and got to work simmering two cans of chickpeas. He only called for two cloves of garlic, which is much less than I remembered using, but I decided to follow his recommendation.
In about 30 minutes, I saw the smoothest hummus come together in the food processor, and once I tasted it, I realized I'd practically replicated the restaurant hummus I fell in love with nearly 20 years ago. What was the difference? Cooking the chickpeas until soft and then pureeing them while they were still warm. After tasting and adjusting the recipe as I went, I ended up adding more lemon juice, tahini and chickpea water than his original recipe called for, but I was thrilled to hear every person I shared the hummus with say something along the lines of, "Wow, this really is good."
One of those people was Amy Edwards, the Austin360Radio host I chat with at least once a week on austin360radio.com. (The radio station also streams on a smart speaker by saying, "Play Austin360Radio," and you can listen to clips through any podcast app.) You can hear our segment about this hummus breakthrough, as well as tips on making pita bread from scratch using my trusty no-knead bread recipe, with this story on austin360.com.
The keys to this recipe are pureeing the chickpeas while they are still warm and adding enough chickpea water to keep it from turning into a sticky paste. If you want to cook the chickpeas from scratch, just make sure you cook them a little longer than usual so they'll break down more easily in the food processor or blender. Also, you can adjust the amount of garlic, lemon juice, tahini and olive oil to your liking, but these are the quantities I used for a not-too-garlicky hummus that had just the right balance of lemon juice and tahini.
— Addie Broyles
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup tahini
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
In a medium pot, place the chickpeas and cover with about 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the skins of the chickpeas start to fall off and the chickpeas have softened. Drain the chickpeas, reserving at least a cup of the cooking liquid.
While the chickpeas cook, add the rest of the ingredients to a food processor. Once the chickpeas have finished cooking, add them to the bowl of the food processor along with 1/2 cup of the chickpea liquid, cover with the lid and then process for two minutes. Depending on the desired consistency of the hummus, add another 1/2 cup of the liquid, or more, and continue to process for another minute or two. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with more oil, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature. Cool before refrigerating, and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
— Adapted from a recipe in "Cook90: The 30-Day Plan for Faster, Healthier, Happier Meals" by David Tamarkin
12-Hour All-Purpose Dough
This basic dough is the ever-evolving staple in my house that is now the base for pita bread, pizza crusts and a no-knead loaf. In truth, I do lightly knead the dough when making pizza crusts and pita bread, but for a whole loaf, I rely on a simple stretching-tucking motion, almost like I'm opening a book, to make the taut surface of a round boule. Another confession: Because I've been making so much of this dough in the past year, I've seen how forgiving it is, and I've stopped weighing and even measuring the ingredients. It sounds crazy, I know, but it feels good to be able to trust my baking instincts at this point. If I accidentally add too much water when initially mixing it, I can add extra flour when shaping the dough into whatever I'm using it for. If it's too dry and it's not coming together before it rises, I sprinkle a little water on top until it does. I measured down to the grams for years before I got to this point, though, so use a scale if you're just getting started. I like 430 grams of flour and 345 grams water, with 1/4 teaspoon yeast for a 12-hour rise.
— Addie Broyles
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup water
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, yeast and salt, adding more or less yeast, depending on how long you'll be fermenting the dough. (More yeast will make the dough rise faster.) Using a rubber spatula to mix, add the water and stir until blended, scraping the bottom of the bowl. Cover with a towel and let rest on the counter from 8 to 18 hours. The is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles.
Sprinkle a little flour on top and, using a rubber spatula, scrape the dough away from the sides of the bowl and onto a floured surface. Flour your hands and then proceed with making one large loaf, individual pizzas or pita bread.
To make bread: Heat the oven to 450 degrees with a cast-iron Dutch oven with a lid or other heavy baking vessel inside. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice, and use your hands to stretch the top of the dough by tucking the edges of the ball underneath itself. Once you have a smooth ball, cover the dough loosely with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let it rest about 15 minutes. Place the dough in the cast-iron Dutch oven, cover with the lid and then bake for 30 minutes. Remove lid and finish baking for another 15 to 20 minutes, or under the top of the loaf is brown. Remove the loaf from the pan and cool completely before cutting.
To make pizza: Heat the oven to 425 degrees with a cast-iron skillet (or skillets) inside. Using a bench scraper or pastry cutter, cut the dough into individual portions and lightly knead each small ball for just a few seconds, or until the dough becomes more cohesive. Add more flour to the counter, if needed. Use your hands to stretch the dough into pizza rounds, with a slightly thicker dough around the edges to make a crust. Let rest while you make the rest of the pizzas, and then place each pizza in a skillet or cook one pizza at a time. Par-bake the pizza crust for 8 minutes before adding the toppings and then add toppings and finish baking for another 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough. (You can also use the basic dough to press into an 8-inch-by-8-inch brownie pan or a large sheet pan to make deep-dish pizza or focaccia. Bakes for 25 to 30 minutes at 425 degrees.)
To make pita bread: Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cut the dough into about 6 pieces using a bench scraper and then lightly knead each ball, using more flour on your hands and the counter, as needed. Use a floured rolling pin to lightly roll out each ball until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Cooking one piece at a time, place the dough round in the skillet and cook, flipping after about 4 minutes. Finish cooking the pita bread until it is very lightly cooked and set aside. (The pita will be softer in texture when finished than a pizza crust.) Repeat with the remaining dough.
— Addie Broyles