This month's Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen by Natalie of Gluten A Go Go and Shel of Musings From the Fishbowl: Lavash Crackers. Lavash is an Armenian-style cracker similar to other middle eastern and northern African flatbreads such as mankoush, pita, and kesret. The primary difference among these flatbreads is either how thick or thin they are rolled out or the type of oven in which they are baked.
I recently made some homemade crackers to serve with my baked brie, so I already knew how simple and delicious homemade crackers can be. Unfortunately, somehow the month go away from me and I thought the posting date for this month's challenge was a little closer to the end of the month. Imagine my surprise, then, when I went to check to see what the post date was a few days ago, only to find out I had two days left! Luckily, this challenge was not too labor intensive, so I was able to complete it in one day. I started these after lunch today, and here I am, posting them now :)
This month's challenge was different from most because for the first time, we were required to make something vegan. We also had the option of making these both vegan and gluten free, but seeing as no one in this household has gluten allergies, mine are not gluten free. We also had to make a vegan dip, spread, relish, or salsa to serve with these, but otherwise we had complete freedom to make whatever we desired.
You can top these crackers with numerous different seasonings and spices, including poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt. I decided to make half with salt, coarsely ground black pepper, and sesame seeds
and the other half with Johnny's Great Caesar Garlic Spread and Seasoning.
I originally wanted to serve these with some of my favorite homemade guacamole, but they didn't have any ripe avocados at the store this morning so I decided to make a roasted red pepper dip instead. Most of the roasted red pepper dips I came across online were not vegan, but I was able to find a vegan recipe on Delish.
This dip was so simple to make. The longest step was roasting the garlic, but you can use fresh minced garlic instead if you'd prefer. I simply placed the garlic cloves on some foil, drizzled them with olive oil, wrapped them up tightly in the foil and placed them in the oven with the crackers while they were baking. After the crackers were done, so was my roasted garlic! If you don't count the time it takes to roast the garlic, this dip only takes five minutes to prepare! This roasted red pepper dip was light and delicious. Next time I might add some chopped fresh basil as well for a little more flavor.
The crackers were very simple to make. I made them two different thicknesses. One batch I made paper thin and they came out super crispy and light. The second batch I made a bit thicker, and they came out more like pita chips. It really just depends on what you prefer. I really like the ones that were seasoned with the garlic seasoning; the other ones were a little bland, but maybe that was my fault for not adding enough (I seasoned very lightly since the recipe warns that a little bit goes a long way).
Thanks to Natalie and Shel for hosting this month's challenge. I really enjoyed trying another recipe for homemade crackers. Make sure you visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see hundreds of other variations on these!
from The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart
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 pass the windowpane test (click here for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit (I used my dough hook on the KitchenAid Mixer and kneaded it on Speed 2 for at least 30 minutes - it never became a beautiful, thin, windowpane, but it did stretch a little more). 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.
Roasted Red Pepper Dip
adapted from Delish
12 ounces canned fire roasted red peppers (alternatively, you can roast your own*)
3 cloves of garlic, roasted**
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Splash of red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in food processor/mini prep/blender until combined.
Yield: Approximately 1/2 cup
*How to Roast a Red Pepper:
If you have a gas stove, you can place the peppers over the open flame until the skin becomes blackened. Once the skins are brownish-black, remove from the oven and immediately place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 20 minutes or so (or until the peppers have time to cool and “sweat”). Once they have cooled you will be able to peel the skins right off.
Otherwise, you can use the oven method. Cut the peppers in half and clean out the seeds and innards. Place them on a baking sheet skin side up. Place the sheet in a 450-500 degree oven set on broil. The skin will start to blacken and soften in 7-10 minutes. Once the skins are brownish-black, remove from the oven and immediately place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 20 minutes or so (or until the peppers have time to cool and “sweat”). Once they have cooled you will be able to peel the skins right off.
** How to Roast Garlic:
Place the garlic cloves on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle olive oil over the garlic and then wrap it up in the foil. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. You can also use finely minced garlic in this recipe to save time if you don't want to roast the garlic.