Quick Bites from Pender

Lavash Crackers – Recipe

In Recipes on December 2, 2009 at 8:04 pm

lavash on cutting board

I’ve been talking about this recipe since my first post last week, and I must say that I’ve enjoyed these with a few different dips and spreads in the past few days.  I can also personally attest to the fact that these stay fresh and tasty for at least 7 days when kept covered.

Lavash are Armenian and Iranian in origin, but are now eaten throughout the Middle East.  These are a very thin and crisp version of the many varieties of flatbread that abound across the region.  The pita, originally from Turkey, is probably the most universally recognized of them all.

I used the recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and award winning book by master baker and teacher Peter Reinhart.  I had this book recommended to me by a baking instructor, who lauded it as a fantastic resource for beginning bakers.   I agree 100%.

I did a double batch of these so that I could try baking one as a whole sheet, and one in pre-scored cracker shapes.  I used all of the toppings suggested, with a couple of differences:  I omitted the caraway seeds, used smoked paprika, and added ajwain seeds to the mix.

These can be made in about 3 hours, so they are doable on a Saturday for a same-night party.  I recommend pre-scoring the crackers as described in the recipe.   I couldn’t get the full sheet to crack into aesthetically pleasing shapes – which is probably a result of not rolling out the dough thinly enough…but still, the pre-scoring allows control – and who doesn’t want a little of that where you can get it?

Lavash Crackers

taken from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

Unbleached Bread Flour 1 ½ C (6.75 oz) (190g)
Salt ½ t
Instant Yeast ½ t
Honey 1 T (.75 oz)
Vegetable Oil 1 T (.5 oz)
Water, at room temp 1/3 – ½ C (3 – 4 oz)
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for topping

C=cup                   T=tablespoon

t=teaspoon

In a mixing bowl, stir together all ingredients, starting with 1/3 C water.  Add enough water as necessary to bring everything together into a ball.

Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured counter.  Knead for about 10 minutes.  The dough should register 77˚to 81˚F (25˚ to 27˚C), and be satiny, but not tacky, to the touch.  Place in a lightly oiled bowl, and roll around to coat the ball with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap

Rise at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (Mine took about 2 ½ hours.)

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled counter.  Press the dough into a square and dust the top lightly with flour.  Roll it out to a paper-thin sheet measuring about 15”x12” (38cmx30cm).  You may have to allow the dough to relax from time to time.  At these times, lift the dough from the counter, and then lay back down.  Cover with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes.  After rolling to the desired thickness, allow to rest 5 minutes, then transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Trim off excess if the dough hangs over the edge of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350˚, and adjust the rack to the middle position.  Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle with seeds and spices – used sparingly – a little goes a long way.

To pre-cut the crackers, use a pizza cutter to cut rectangles or diamonds in the dough.  They don’t need to be fully separated – they will snap apart after baking.  Or, you can bake the dough in a whole sheet and break into shards after cooling.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top.

When baked, remove the crackers from the oven, and let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

Tips:

  • Take the time to roll these out thinly…the batch that I rolled out to “paper thin” were much more cracker-like.
  • You can also put the dough into the fridge right after kneading to allow it to retard overnight.  Note that it will take some time (at least 1 hour) for the dough to return to room temperature before it can begin to rise in the next stage.
  • The author claims that because this dough is quite stiff, it is easier to knead by hand than in a machine.  After 10 minutes, me and my slightly arthritic hands would tend to disagree.  Next time, I will be making this in my KitchenAid.  My dough hook can handle it.

Tips:

· Take the time to roll these out thinly…the batch that I rolled out to “paper thin” were much more cracker-like.

You can also put the dough into the fridge right after kneading to allow it to retard overnight.  Note that it will take some time (at least 1 hour) for the dough to return to room temperature before it can begin to rise in the next stage.

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