Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lavash Crackers with Dip - Daring Bakers

Natalie of Gluten A Go Go and co host Shel from Musings from the Fishbowl , both alternate daring bakers have set forth a challenge that makes us think about about both vegan diets and gluten free diets.

Our challenge is to recreate Lavash Crackers with a dip that's both vegan and gluten free. This challenge made me think about what living a vegan and/or gluten free diet would demand in terms of a learning curve for me. Having to think about what we really eat seems entirely fundamental to a healthy diet. The recipe for this month's Daring Bakers comes from the Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart.

Here's a simple formula for making snappy Armenian-style crackers, perfect for breadbaskets, company and kids...It is similar to the many other Middle Eastern and Northern African flatbreads known by different names, such as mankoush or mannaeesh (Lebanese), barbari (Iranian), khoubiz or khobz (Arabian), aiysh (Egyptian), kesret and mella (Tunisian), pide or pita (Turkish), and pideh (Armenian). The main difference between these breads is either how thick or thin the dough is rolled out, or the type of oven in which they are baked (or on which they are baked, as many of these breads are cooked on stones or red-hot pans with a convex surface).

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 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 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.


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.


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.

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.

For the dip I made a Roasted Eggplant Dip


2 eggplants (medium size)
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbsp Tahini
4 cloves chopped garlic (I used winter garlic which is much more pungent)
2 tsp hot pepper sauce
1/2 tsp salt

1. Pierce eggplants with a fork and bake in 350 F oven on parchment paper until the eggplants are very soft (45 minutes - 1 hr) Test with fork to make sure it's soft
2. Let eggplant cool and then remove skins
3. In food processor, add eggplant, lemon juice, tahini paste, garlic, hot pepper sauce and salt. Mix until fully blended.
4. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavours to marry.

Note: This dip is on the spicy side - reduce hot sauce and garlic if you don't like it spicy.



Dharm said...

Just love the step by step pics. This was a fun challenge indeed! You're welcome over for crackers at my place anytime - Bond. :) LOL

That Girl said...

You made your own Lavash crackers? How impressive!

Natashya said...

I love eggplant dip! And your crackers look great. Good job, neighbour.

Ricki said...

Looks like a great challenge--congrats on doing such a lovely job :) . And the dip sounds delish, too--I adore eggplant dips!

Ivy said...

Great job Giz, like you eggplant dip as well.

Lori said...

So did the granite help with the rolling out/sticking process? Your lavash looks great. I love Baba Ganoush. Have some in the fridge right now.

Dana McCauley said...

Yum! Roasted eggplant dip is one of my favourite things. I rarely make it though since I live very close to a restaurant that makes a stella version. I know, I'm lazy.

Mary said...

Your crackers look great! And if I hadn't already posted a babaghanoush recipe I would totally have posted it for my dip too!

shellyfish said...

That dip sounds so yummy! Great job on the challenge!

Bellini Valli said...

Love your choice of vegan dip this time around. Perfect for this DB challenge. Wasn't this one fun!!!!

noble pig said...

I never realized it was so easy to make crackers! Beautiful.

Patsyk said...

I love your step-by-step pictures! I'm going to have to give this one a try after reading everyone's blogs today!

kat said...

Your crackers are so beautifully thin! & I want some of your dip now, so yummy! Hey congrats on being featured on the Foodbuzz newsletter.

Nick said...

Nice work on those crackers! I've never bothered making crackers seems like too much work for crackers. I suppose if I was making a homemade dip too and for guests I would consider it. They do look pretty darn thin and delicious!

Adam said...

Roasted eggplant! Awesome pick... and pics :) I could eat that stuff even without the crackers... just give me a spoon and say ready, set, go

Maggie said...

Great pictorial! The finished crackers look beautifully crunchy and golden.

Lori Lynn said...

Great dip for your homemade crackers!

Psychgrad said...

Lori - I'm loving the granite - easy to roll on, easy to clean up
Val - I loved the challenge - it didn't take 2-3 days to prepare, it wasn't high fat and the end result was a great snack.
Kat - thanx - I'm still trying to figure out how it all works :)

natalie said...

I'm planning to make these again and wanted to use a roasted eggplant dip! Thanks for the recipe! ;)

OhioMom said...

Wonderful visual tutorial! I am very much a visual person, don't know that I would be daring enough to try these but they look and sound delish!

Vera said...

I LOVE eggplant! I'm sure your dip was delicious!

Hannah said...

I adore babaganoush- What an excellent dip to pair with this cracker!

Elle said...

Looks like you got your crackers paper thin...just beautiful! Great dip,too.

Passionate About Baking said...

Beautiful step-by-step pictures...this challenge was a load of fun! Love the baba ghanoush type tip. YUM!

RecipeGirl said...

Nice work! Did your toppings stay stuck ok? Mine popped off pretty easily. It was a fun challenge though, I thought. When else would you think to make your own crackers??

Lauren said...

Ooo, your lavash looks wonderful! Great job!!

white on rice couple said...

Like someone said previously, I love the step by step pics too. It makes it so much more clear and inspiring!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Roasted eggplant Yumm!, great idea Giz!

April said...

YUM!! the eggplant dip sounds really good!!

TeaLady said...

These look really tasty. Nice job.

We Are Never Full said...

i've got to make this eggplant dip. i've been buying some from the store and get thru a whole jar in about 2 days. i could prob. save about $10 a week just making it!

giz said...

Recipe Girl - the topings were not bad. The spraying of the water on the top before baking made a difference.

Rosie said...

Beautiful crackers and dip you did a wonderful job Giz!!

Rosie x