Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daring Bakers: Lavash Crackers with Hummus

The Daring Bakers challenge this month was quite different from the last two challenges I participated in. It was a savory recipe, and it was something that was relatively simple. Yet the challenge in this recipe was that it was something I would never think to bake. The challenge was to make Lavash Crackers, with some kind of dip or spread to have with them. Both elements needed to be vegan, and the spread had to be both gluten-free and vegan.

The hosts were two alternative Daring Bakers, Natalie and Shelly. They did a great job picking a recipe that was different from our past challenges. Thanks ladies, for this fun challenge!

I tried to make a version of everything crackers, with onion flakes, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and sea salt. The toppings did not stick as much as I would like, but were still a good flavor combination. I did as our hosts suggested, and rolled out the dough into two different sheets, and tried to get it as think as possible. When they first came out of the oven the crackers were still pretty soft, and I was disappointed in the texture. But I let them cool, but them in a tuperware, and left the house for the evening. When I got home the next day, I just had to taste my crackers again. To my delight, they had become perfectly crisp, and actually seemed like real crackers! At that point I could not stop eating them, and they were gone quicker than I expected! I would LOVE to make this again, maybe next time we're having friends over for dinner. The crackers would be a great part of an appetizer platter, and who isn't going to be impressed if you make your own crackers?!

Lavash Crackers from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

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.

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers (I did mine as two batches, to make sure they were thin)

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) 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, sugar, 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. 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 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.

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. 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.

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 pre-cut 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.

And the Hummus...
I decided to once again try to make my own hummus. I just can't hit on an exact combination that makes me happy. There is a Middle Eastern grocery store near my gym that has amazing flavors on hummus, and I really don't know how I can top it! The hummus I made was ok, but nothing I'd really recommend. If you have a suggestion on the perfect hummus recipe, let me know! Thanks!


Bridget said...

Ah, perhaps I should have checked the DB site for advice before I made mine. Then I would have known to roll it out thinner than the recipe instructs. Next time!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Hi Erin, You did a great job here!
My toppings hardly stuck too. I would definitly try them again. I don't blame you about the hummus, the city has some great places.

Darius T. Williams said...

Oh those crackers! Really great job!


Lauren said...

Ooo, your lavash looks wonderful! Great job!