Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lavash Crackers

It's Daring Baker time again!

I can't believe I haven't posted anything in 2 months. Did you miss me? Life got in the way of last month's challenge, so I still haven't made those delicious looking Chocolate Eclairs. (I'm not giving up on them - hopefully you'll see them up here soon!) Life got in the way of blogging in general these past few months, but I'm hoping to be a regular in cyberspace again.

So, on to the main event - the Lavash Crackers! This month was a savory recipe, which is a nice change from all the sweets we've had. We were given a regular recipe, and a gluten free version, which I'm sure was nice for the alternative Daring Bakers to have. We were also given full rein on how to flavor the cracker - with whatever seeds, spices, or salts we chose. The second part of the challenge was to make a dip that is VEGAN!! (I will be posting more about this later, but I tried veganism for a few weeks last month, and still aspire to incorporate more vegan choices into my life, but for now I'm still just a plain ol' vegetarian. ) Overall, I was a pretty uninspired Daring Baker this month. I couldn't come up with anything more exciting than Sea Salt as flavoring, and I was wasn't very prepared for the dip, so I ended up making the recipe that was given to us - Tahitian Almond Dip. To be honest, I didn't love it after I made it, but maybe I'm just not in the right frame of mind for it today. I will keep the Almond Dip - because almond butter is too expensive to waste - and try it again tomorrow. Maybe my tastebuds will come around.

The recipe was chosen by Natalie of Gluten A Go Go, and Shel of Musings From the Fishbowl, and they found it in : The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart. According to them, lavash is similar to the many other Middle Eastern and Northern African flatbreads known by different names, such as mankoush or mannaeesh (Lebanese), barbari (Iranian), khoubiz or khobz (Arabian), aiysh (Egyptian), kesret and mella (Tunisian), pide or pita (Turkish), and pideh (Armenian). The main difference between these breads is either how thick or thin the dough is rolled out, or the type of oven in which they are baked. The key to a crisp lavash, is to roll out the dough paper-thin. The sheet can be cut into crackers in advance or snapped into shards after baking. The shards make a nice presentation when arranged in baskets.
So, without any further ado, here are the recipes:

Lavash Crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings
1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see for a description of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.


2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

3. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.


3. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

Tahitian Almond Dipping Sauce
by Robert Yarosh and Lisa Soto, from The Complete Book of Raw Food, Lori Baird, Editor.

* 1 1/2 cups almond butter
* 1/2 cup pine nuts
* 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
* 1 clove garlic
* 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (you may want to add more juice or add some water, depending on the consistancy you like).
* 1 1/2 tablespoons agave syrup or honey

Blend all ingredients together until smooth (in your blender or food processor). Serve with your favorite crackers and fresh fruit.

Ta-da!(as my 2 y.o likes to say) The finished product looked nice - I used a ravioli cutter to cut the dough before baking, so it gave the cracker pieces a fancy looking edge.

The vegan dip I wanted to make, but didn't have the ingredients for, is my favorite variety of hummus - Jalepeno Cilantro Hummus. You can see the recipe I previously posted here.

The crackers were fun to make, and if was feeling more creative, would've felt more inspired by them. They were really tasty with just the sea salt though - it makes for a nice dipping cracker. I don't think mine turned out as crispy as they are supposed to be, but they are still good. And I know I need a lot more practice with rolling dough - because instead of 12x15 rectangles, mine were more like the shape of Australia!

Please check out the rest of the talented Daring Bakers attempts at Lavash Crackers here.
And stay tuned - hopefully I'll have a new post by the end of the weekend!


Alexa said...

The crackers look so thin and perfect and that almond dip sounds so good. Well done!

Angela said...

Your crackers look wonderful. I hope your tastebuds come around to liking the almond dip as it sounds gorgeous!

RecipeGirl said...

Great job! That dipping sauce sounds yummy too.

oonsky said...

Australia shaped lavash - wow. I envy your paperthin crackers. mine looked more like hundred islands. Well done!

Foodie Froggy said...

Yum ! The dip must be to die for ! And the crackers are great.

Leslie said...

Nice crackers..I love your dip!

marye said...