Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daring Bakers, September 2008: Lavash Crackers

I am now a Daring Baker and this is my first project!

September 2008: The Challenge: Make vegan and/or gluten free Lavash Crackers and create a dip/spread/salsa/relish to accompany it. As chosen by Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and co-host Shelly, of Musings From the Fishbowl, chose Lavash Crackers from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread.

I was a little intimidated by this concept, but that’s the point of Daring Bakers – challenging yourself to do that which has not been attempted before. I assembled all my ingredients and started in. I had read a question from another DB newbie about using her brand new KitchenAid stand mixer to make the dough. Hmmm, if I did that I would miss out on all the kneading action and I wouldn’t be stretching myself and trying new things. Be Daring! I did think however that it that might be interesting to compare the differences between machine kneaded dough and hand kneaded dough, so I did it both ways as an experiment (and you know how I love experiments!)

The first batch of dough I did in the mixer and it was ok. I didn’t think that it got kneaded enough, and when I baked up these batches, I had a lot of air bubbles come thru. As for the “by hand” dough, 10 minutes of kneading was way not enough. 15 minutes was not enough. Turns out 20 minutes worked for me. It’s rather relaxing once you get over watching the clock and I could feel it change texture and morph into something entirely different than when I began.

Since I had plenty of dough I made 4 different types of crackers. For each one I rolled over the toppings with the rolling pin to imbed them into the dough so they wouldn’t flake off.

Rosemary, basil and sea salt.

Hungarian paprika, poppy seed, ground mustard and sea salt,

Plain sea salt (not pictured as it's kind of boring looking)

And a sweet variation: cinnamon sugar (gotta have my magic sprinkles!), slivered almonds and coconut.

I tried using cookie cutters, but the first 3 shrank up so badly, I ceased and desisted. Interesting how those puffed up like little pillows!

Now for the dip. Fun fun fun! I roasted about 6 heads of garlic the other night (which I'll post soon!), knowing I wanted to do something garlicky with the dip. Again, it had to be vegan and/or gluten free. I had a number of homegrown tomatoes gifted to me that needed to be used up before they got funky so I combined the two in my Magic Bullet (love that thing) and pulsed slightly until I got a nice chunky salsa-eque dip. Chiffonade of basil leaves and ooooooooh so yummy. I am quite anti-oxidated right now.

Many thanks to Natalie and Shelly for choosing this gluten free and vegan recipe. To see what all the other DBers did with their Lavash, check out the blogroll here. If you'd like to try making either one of these recipes for yourself, you can find the recipe in Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread. or see below.

Lavash Crackers

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, 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.

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 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar ( I used sugar, and would have used honey if not vegan)
* 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 … ong-Enough for a discription 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.
6. 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).
7. 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.

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  1. Congratulations on your first DB challenge! Welcome to the group. Your crackers look fantastic. I like that you tried a number of different options.

  2. I'm impressed! Great job. They look delicious!

  3. Way to go on your first challenge! I love all the variations you made. Even though I went over them with my rolling pin, my sesame seeds didn't want to stick. =)

  4. Welcome to the Baring Bakers!!! Interesting challenge for your first one! Your crackers look excellent

  5. Lovely cracker decorations! The sweet ones sound tasty and I love the sound of the fresh herbs - yum! Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

  6. Congratulations on completing your first DB Challenge! You really jumped into the challgenge and achieved terric results and photos!

  7. Congrats on your first challenge, your lavash looks wonderful!

  8. I think you did a great job on your first challenge! Well done!

  9. Well done Lisa! And great choices for toppings, I wish I had been more creative with mine now.

  10. Ooooo, those crackers look delish! Congrats on your first DB challenge, I can't wait to see what you bake up for next month!

  11. great job on your first challenge and welcome to the DB! your crackers look delicious w/all the various toppings you chose :)


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