Saturday, September 27, 2008

My First Daring Bakers Challenge - Lavash Crackers

This is my first month with the Daring Bakers, a group which agrees to all bake the same recipe and post on the same day. This month's recipe, provided by Shel and Natalie was for lavash crackers. This recipe required about half the work of bread, and was absolutely delicious! We were also permitted to concoct our own topping or dip, so I scrounged around my refrigerator for this week's leftovers, and came up with some beans and diced tomatoes, which became a tangy salsa, a perfectly healthy companion for these crackers.

Here is the recipe. For a gluten-free version, you can look to either of the hosts' blogs.

Lavash Crackers
From The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart
(makes 1 sheet pan of crackers)

1 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 Tb agave syrup or sugar (I used sugar
1 Tb vegetable oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb water, at room temperature (I used 1/2 cup)
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings (I used poppy and caraway)

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. 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.

6. 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).

7. 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.

Bean Tomato Salsa

1/2 14 oz. can black beans
1/2 can kidney beans
1/2 can cannellini beans
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes (unsalted)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar (lemon or lime juice might work well, also)

1. Combine all ingredients in saucepan and heat through.
2. Mash salsa to desired consistency with a fork.
3. Use a strainer to drain excess liquid, and allow to cool.

Check out the Daring Bakers blogroll for more!


Anonymous said...

Welcome to the Daring Bakers! I'm so glad you liked your first challenge - it looks great!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Great job on your crackers and yummy sounding dip! Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Eat4Fun said...

Congratulations on completing your first DB Challenge! Your lavash and salsa look very tasty. :-)

Lauren said...

Ooo, your lavash looks wonderful! Congrats on your first challenge!

shanna said...

The thing I really love about these DB challenges is seeing all the photos all over the food-blogging world! Never heard of lavash crackers before now, but looks great!

silverrock said...

That bean-tomato salsa looks tasty! And the crackers look lovely too. Way to go on your first DB challenge, isn't it fun to bake in groups