Saturday, September 27, 2008
Bad Daring Baker, Good Lavash Cracker
Imagine my surprise this morning when I checked my google reader list to see all of my favorite daring bakers had updated their blogs with a new Daring Baker Challenge post. Oh yeah, today's the 27th, posting day.
After bring H back from ballet, I set to work putting together this month's challenge. The challenge was hosted by Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and co-host Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl and was for a vegan and/or gluten free recipe. They provided both a "regular" and gluten-free version of the lavash cracker recipe and also requested that the accompanying dip be vegan and gluten free.
Luckily for me this month, crackers are not nearly as involved as past challenges. I was able to get this done while the kids napped and still get posted today.
I opted for the with-gluten recipe since I had the ingredients in the house, and I made a vegan dip of chopped/pureed curried vegetables in a wonderfully fruity Israeli olive oil. The crackers are easy and delicious, and if you put the thought into it ahead of time, there is not real reason to go out and buy crackers ever again. The dough of course can be flavored with anything (sundried tomato, cumin, cinnamon and sugar, etc.). I kept it simple this time (given the time crunch) and simple rolled some poppy and sesame seeds and some gray sea salt into the dough right before it went into the oven.
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. 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-Bre … ong-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.
or 2. 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.
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. 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.
or 4. 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.
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.