Another Daring Bakers Challenge. For the first time in 3 months, not that big a challenge for me as I am quite familiar with homemade crackers and have been working with yeast every day these days………..as “the bake your own bread” ghost has entered my body. This has led to the husband going to the grocery store and snacking on some “store” bread and the 3 year old using his resources fully “If I will be a good boy, will you buy me sliced bread ?” Now who would have imagined that 3 year olds can be determined to be good …………for bread. Sounds like either I live on an uninhabited island or are an island myself. Well , a fabulous cook and bread baker is to blame for all this……….her book has enchanted me like no other………..More later.
Don’t worry about me rambling for no reason…….its been a month that I wrote anything at all and I am so full of things to say. Tackled this challenge really early this month but just didn’t write the post………so here I am up at 4:45 am in the morning determined to post on the specified date. Ah, determination, ………so much is brewing in my mind these days and I am so involved in the world matters ………..on my dining table…….. that its better that I do not post anything……..you can see ……….can’t you?
OK, I heard about Lavash and tasted this beautiful bread when a friend of mine brought it for me from the most authentic Armenian bakery in the bay area in California. This friend is Armenian and Armen is his name 🙂 . Armen is a wonderful structural engineer who helped me get conversant with the American Civil Engineering. I volunteered for him before I started working……..I have spent too many a fabulous evenings discussing the world with him and have learnt a lot from him. I know, if we’d meet again you would still wonder how I can drink decaf………. Someday, I hope to meet him again and introduce him to his grandkids. Hope you are keeping good health Armen, I have thought of you a lot as I prepared these crackers. Lavash bread is an amazing bread………it looks big and crackery but if you roll it in a wet towel………..it gets soft. Fill and roll. Makes amazing sandwiches.
Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl and Natalie of Gluten A Go Go hosted this month’s fabulous challenge. There is a great alternative baking side to the Daring Bakers ….its a great resource for all kinds of alternative baking. We always make them work too hard. This month’s challenge was hosted by that branch of daring bakers’ making some history and letting us eat the delicious results. A big thank you to them for letting us get so creative.
Here’s the Recipe:
RECIPE – Recipe Reference: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.
Here’s a simple formula for making snappy Armenian-style crackers, perfect for breadbaskets, company and kids…It 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 (or on which they are baked, as many of these breads are cooked on stones or red-hot pans with a convex surface)…
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.
I do not like too thin a cracker otherwise I end up hurting my mouth somewhere with a sharp end…I know, I know :)), so I like mine with some substance without being bready.
Makes 1 sheet pan of 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 Tbsp. (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tbsp. (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings
I made 4 batches. Used whole wheat flour (American, store bought, from a local mill though) for 1 batch and 3 batches with Indian “Atta…..whole wheat flour” which is actually a finer grind of the same thing but not as fine as all purpose flour. I am not really aware of the gluten content of atta. I liked mine with the atta flour;)……….old habits die hard.
Whole wheat flour and Atta dough before proofing
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 Tbsp. of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.
I needed all the water and needed to knead and knead and knead. I was lazy , just used my hands as I didn’t want to wash the mixer but after 4 batches in one go……….I really questioned the wisdom of doing so. The good part was that my hands were in no condition to knead bread dough for a couple of days and the folks at home heaved a sigh of relief:).
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 http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre … ong-Enough 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).
4. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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).
I tried all these seeds individually and pretzel salt individually and all in one. The sesame ones tasted best:). I failed to get the seeds to stick the first time around. With the rest, I would finish rolling out, keep the rolled dough aside, sprinkle the seeds on the counter and roll one last time to get the seeds to stick well. I also used the fork to mark the rolled dough. This prevents the crackers from puffing up, though it won’t puff up if you have kneaded the dough well. But, again its a habit:).
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.
RECIPES – Toppings
You may use your choice of topping/dip/salsa/relish/spread for your lavash crackers as long as it is vegan and gluten free.
The first evening I was in a rush and had to finish a watermelon sitting in the refrigerator. The watermelon was not too sweet and so a salsa made from it really perked it up. Recipe is from “Watermelon Fire and Ice Salsa” at allrecipes.com . Delicious!!
Lavash Crackers with Watermelon salsa
Next I wanted to make an Armenian dip…….as authentic as I could make it:). Mutabal is similar to Baba Ghanoush and has chopped onions and cumin in it.
Eggplant 1 big
Olive oil 1/2 tsp.
Tahini 1 1/2 Tbsp.
Garlic 2 cloves
Lemon Juice 1 Tbsp.
Onion 2 Tbsp. very finely chopped
Cumin powder 1/4 tsp. dry roasted
- Salt to taste
Parsley 1 Tbsp. chopped fine for garnish
Olive oil 1 tsp. for garnish
Spread some olive oil on the shiny eggplant and use a fork to make some holes in it. Put the eggplant under the broiler and let it brown on all sides. I sometimes turn it and sometimes I don’t. Works both ways. Should take about 15-20 minutes.
Once the eggplant is cool enough to be handled. Peel the skin off and remove the big bulk of seeds, if there. I take the bulk of seeds out, if it is a seedy eggplant, a few always remain.
Next I mixed the eggplant flesh, tahini, salt, garlic and lemon juice in a blender. Came out creamy. Mix the onion it it , sprinkle with cumin powder and garnish with parsley and a tsp. of olive oil.
First bite into the mutabal with crackers was “yeah, not bad” and then I kept going back to it. Its addicting. I also made a cilantro hummus, but forgot to take a picture:) . Recipe from here.
These were sent off as a gift to a dear friend who has to sometimes suffer my baking escapades:).
Variety Lavash crackers with Mutabal and Cilantro hummus (ran away from the picture)
In addition to my usual crackers, these will be made often:). Thanks for a lovely challenge.
Now, who all of the daring bakers have made what……….lets check it out Daring Bakers Blogroll……..Expenditure: Whole wheat Flour : $ 1.68 Total $ 1.68 That’s neat……….isn’t it;).