27 September 2008

Lavash Crackers

This one kinda sneaked up on me. Thank goodness I double-checked the deadline a few days ago! Gave me time to eek out my entry into our monthly little baking club.

This month, we spiced things up a bit. Our challenge was to make lavash crackers (an Armenian hard flatbread), and gluten-free ones to boot. Our first Alternative Challenge! I have never in my life worried about the gluten in my life, love the stuff. Can't live without it. I've tried gluten-free bread just out of curiosity, from my favorite Hippie Grocery Store even, but it was just so... dry. Dry dry dry. Never grabbed the gluten-free bread again.

But for the Daring Bakers, I'll give it a shot.

These crackers actually whipped up rather quickly - in fact, I think it's a challenge for the record books as far as "least amount of time suck". We were given free reign as to our cracker toppings, and I went with sesame seeds. I have plans for some of the leftover crackers, muah-ha-ha-ha. You have to wait and see what that entails.

Another part of the challenge was to make a dip or relish to accompany our crackers, but on one condition: it had to be vegan and gluten-free. A wee bit trickier. My original intention was to make some cool little pickled hot relish, or maybe some exotic dip. I ran out of time trying to think up something Fantastic, however, so I went with the old stand-by: hummus. Not like that's a bad thing, to be honest, but a wee bit boring. Ah, well - nothing wrong with a classic, right?

I am happy to report that both crackers and dip were quite lovely together. I left my crackers a little bit thicker than I think was recommended, just so they would have the slightest bit of softness for my dip (would be sad to try to eat hummus with shards of cracker flying everywhere). Not bad! I might venture into the gluten-free bread world a little bit more often, even if just to make these crackers again.

A big thanks to Natalie and Shel for the challenge! And as always, click the link to see more Daring Baker takes on this vegan and gluten-free Challenge.

Lavash Crackers

1 1/2 c. unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1 Tbsp. agave syrup or sugar
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/3 to 1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp. water, at room temperature
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

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.

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-Bread-Dough-Has-Been-Mixed-Long-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.


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.

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).

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. or4. 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.

Preheat the oven to 350 F 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.

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).

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.

Classic Hummus

4 garlic cloves, minced and then mashed
2 (14 oz.) cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2/3 c. tahini
1/3 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
Paprika and olive oil, for garnish

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Slowly stream in olive oil, until combined. Season to taste with salt.

Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with paprika, and drizzle with olive oil.


Anonymous said...

Wow - you went the extra mile with this challenge! Beautiful photos, too. I also liked making these thicker for dipping, felt more substantial or something.

zorra said...

Your crackers matches with the sofa. ;-)

Madam Chow said...

Your crackers turned out lovely! I used hummus, too, and I think it went well with them.

Di said...

Great job! Hummus sounds great to me. And the deadline snuck up on me, too. =)

Sheltie Girl said...

Your crackers turned out beautifully...so perfectly square and toasted...Yummm! I'm glad you enjoyed the challenge this month!

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

Passionate About Baking said...

Yes, this was, by far, the easiest challenge so far. I enjoyed it too. Love the crackers & the hummus too. Looks delectable indeed!!

Angela said...

You were far braver than I. Going gluten-free on the crackers scared me, so I stuck with my trusty bread flour.

Your crackers do look fantastic though, so I might be brave next time!!

Anonymous said...

Least amount of time suck? OMG, I LOVE THAT PHRASE! Beautifully done!

Jamie said...

Looks delicious! I too made hummus!

Regina said...

Beautiful crackers - you went with sesame as well! The hummus looks lovely, too.

Snooky doodle said...

Nice crackers and beautiful photos as always. Wish I had some to eat while watching tv :-)

Gretchen Noelle said...

Your crackers came out looking fantastic! And hummus, although an old standby is a classic and perfect for something like this! Great job!

Sarah said...

I loved that this challenge was less time consuming that previous challenges. Yours turned out great...good job!

Em said...

Hello, fellow Emily M.:

Beautiful pictures and a great job on the crackers. I didn't make homemade hummus, but it was the *first* thing I tried with mine. :)

Good job...

Alexa said...

Your crackers turned out so nice. They look great with that hummus. Great job!