This month's Daring Bakers selection is Lavash Crackers. They're the expensive crackers you find in the bakery section at your grocery store. And surprisingly, despite their hefty price tag at the grocer, they're very cheap and easy to make.
Thank goodness! Because I asked my boyfriend to bring my pasta machine when he came to visit for the weekend, thinking the dough would be much easier to get into the requisite paper-thin sheets with the machine. He brought the machine -- but didn't notice the handle was missing. Oops!
So it was up to me and my rolling pin to force the dough into paper-thin sheets. I was expecting a fight, but no: the dough rolled out smoothly, almost effortlessly. Occasionally, it would resist, but a five minute rest always made it easy to roll again. I love that I didn't really need to roll the dough into perfect rectangles, because rolling dough into identifiable shapes isn't one of my strong suits. The dough was going to be snapped or cut into strips anyway, so I was able to roll it without paying much attention to maintaining a distinct shape.
Once it was rolled out, I placed the dough on cookie sheets, sprinkled some with garlic seasoning blend and others with rosemary and kosher salt, and baked them til browned and crispy.
They were amazing! The rosemary and kosher salt crackers tasted like focaccia, and the garlic crackers tasted like garlic bread.
The challenge was to make a vegan dip. We served them with olive oil with the same garlic seasoning we used in the crackers. I didn't love it, so next I made a very basic corn salsa (I actually just added some corn to jarred salsa because I didn't have any other salsa ingredients on hand), and that was just okay. As it turns out, despite the fact that I used to be a vegetarian, I'm not the best vegan cook. For our non-challenge dip, my boyfriend made hot crab dip, and that was a hit.
We can't wait to make these easy and delicious again -- next time with a pasta roller.
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. 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, 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. 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). 3. 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. 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.