Sunday, September 28, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge: Lavash Crackers

(I'm a day late on this one - so much for "auto post" and on top of all that it posts the wrong one! This is the correct version.)

It's September and it's time for the Daring Bakers Challenge! The challenge was brought to us by Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and co-host Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl. This month we have Lavash Crackers from one of my bread baking bibles The Bread Bakers Apprentice. Lavash crackers are extremely versatile and can be made savory or sweet. We were given a ton of "wiggle" room this month with more emphasis on the dip then the cracker. The lovely Mrs. Tablebread even got in on the fun and made the vegan friendly dip: Apple Butter!

Also, for some of you long time readers. This is the month that I meant to re-earn my DB stripes. I meant to come out really punching on this one to show I was back in the game but of course life happened again. Midterms and work came barging in all month so I was only able to make one batch of these crackers (Ok, two but one didn't rise because my kitchen was too cold! SHHHH).

I hope you enjoy this month's challenge and don't forget to stop over and see all the other amazing crackers - there are some truly artistic bakers going crazy out there! Check us out: Daring Bakers.

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
* 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 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.


3. 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.
4. 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).
5. 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.

Lewis Note: Due to technical difficulties photos and Apple Butter recipe will follow in a couple of days. I thought that I had them in the post but realized at the last minute that they were there and my camera is not cooperating. Thank you for your understanding. I have to go back to pulling my hair out!


BumbleVee said...

hiya Lewis....I found a recipe on a blog for a loaf called Tuscan Peasant Bread. Iturned out very nice. Chewy kind of firm crust..much like the granola type loaf I found at the shop. The first one I made plain..but my next try...I am tossing in some granola to see what happens.

Julie said...

Mmmm, apple butter! I've never had it, but I've always wanted to try it, and it sounds like it would taste awesome with these crackers!

Jude said...

It's really tough when life gets in the way.
At least you still managed to get it done!

Tablebread said...

bumblevee - You are truly becoming hooked! I just found a supply store that was affordable and ships over here to me so I can't wait for that box to arrive! Can you say lint free cloths and rounded proofing bowls?!?

julie - The lovely baker's wife makes apple butter from scratch in a crock pot and then cans it. The house smells so spicy and nice! This is why I look forward to apple season :)

jude - well, as I said, this was supposed to be my return to glory but I guess it can't always work out that way. That's ok though. "You just wait October! HERE I COOOOME!!" :)

leena! said...

Thanks for offering a gluten-free recipe! My sister-in-law is a celiac, and these will make a nice base for a Thanksgiving appetizer she can actually eat.

my food affair said...

great looking pizzas!! and what adorable little helpers you have. -kk

va loans said...

Congratulations on the Year on the Web. Great idea. Mmmm

Commonwealth Games 2010 said...

great going! happy welcome

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the apple company butter! I've never had it, but I've always desired to try it, and it appears to be like it would flavor amazing with these crackers!

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