After the disaster that was my Vegan Eclair experiment, I was completely delighted that this month’s Daring Baker Challenge selected by Natalie and Shel was a vegan recipe.
Phew, no need to experiment with different egg replacers. Natalie and Shel also embraced the creativity of the Daring Bakers by allowing adventurous adaptations through the addition of individual touches to the basic recipe.
I have to admit being a bit of a Peter Reinhart groupie. I took a sourdough bread workshop recently and have since enjoyed sharing my life with a 30 yr old starter (it requires just the right amount of love and commitment). Reinhart’s books The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and Whole Grain Bread have both inspired me in my artisanal bread experimenting. When Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl selected Peter’s Lavash Crackers for this months challenge, I was excited to try a new recipe and continue as a dedicated disciple of Reinhart’s techniques.
The recipe requires very simple ingredients, allowing for the addition of whatever flavour variations you fancy.
I decided to divide the recipe in half and bake up half with a garlic-sesame topping and the other half with a cumin-cumin seed topping.
RECIPE – Lavash Crackers
From Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread
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
* 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) agave syrup or sugar (I used agave)
* 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. 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 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. I don’t own a rolling pin so I used a wine bottle instead-good thing that was easy to find in my apartment. It worked really well. I kept rolling until I could see the colours of my counter through the dough.
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 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.
I paired the crackers with a sun-dried tomato hummus, stuffed with basil leaves, picked from my own little pot by my windowsill.
This recipe is really quick and easy and makes a great appetizer for a dinner party or a snack for entertaining friends on a cozy fall afternoon.
I was able to share my results with two good friends, both loved the texture of the crackers-rolling it out paper thin really does make a difference!
Check out all of the creative variations the Daring Bakers came up with. The recipe was provided with a gluten-free variation (I went with the basic-gluten-full version…but I know there are now plenty of examples of gluten-free lavash crackers on the interwebs!)