p3: Lavash Crackers

#10, Lavash Crackers

My yearly Father’s Day dinner/brunch gift ended up belated this year, a combination of my father’s returning from vacation and a very busy last week I just had. A few days after getting back he made his official request: Tuna Tartar, Crab Cakes, and Lemon Bars. The last two have nothing to do with this post, but the tartar found me looking for something to serve it on top; originally, my thoughts went towards just grilling the white loaf bread I was PLANNING on making, but then I did a double-check through the book and found a more obvious answer. Instead of making that (maybe I’ll do it next week, we’ll see), wouldn’t it just be better to explore my first homemade cracker for the classic crispy route?

lavash-stack-800x562Lavash itself is one of a group of flatbreads made throughout the Middle-East and North Africa by different names and different thicknesses and baking; which makes me already feel better going into it. I’m sure even if I DO screw up getting them ideally thin, the main issue (supposedly ‘paper-thin’ is the goal), I’ll have probably made one of the other ones anyway! Now, back to the cracker itself, which has mainly Armenian and Iranian connections. One of the things that drew me to it, and the reason it’s in the book of course, being the fact it’s a yeasted, rising cracker, as opposed to the typical unleavened kind we’re actually used to. Definitely gives that extra element of intrigue and challenge; and as such more excuses for when I inevitably screw something up on this first try!

20150628_111717Recipe
1 ½ cup/6.75oz Bread Flour
½ tsp/0.13oz Salt
½ tsp/0.055oz Dry Yeast
1 Tb/0.75oz Honey
1 Tb/0.5oz Vegetable/Olive Oil
1/3-½ cup/3-4oz Water, Room Temp
Large-grain Salt and Whole Spices for topping

Directions

  1. Stir all measured ingredients together, starting with 1/3 cup of water and adding only as much as needed to bring everything into a ball.20150628_111903
  2. Sprinkle flour on counter and knead dough for about 10 minutes until it passes the windowpane test, is somewhat firm, not tacky or sticky, and stretches when pulled.20150628_112152
  3. Lightly oil bowl, transfer and roll dough to coat, covering tight with plastic wrap. Bulk ferment 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.20150628_135423
  4. Lightly mist counter with spray oil, plop dough down and press into a square, lightly dusting the top with extra bread flour.20150628_135713
  5. Taking a rolling pin, roll your dough out into a large rectangular shape (if able, or just a big circle-ish blob thing), until the dough is ‘paper thin,’ or as thin as one can make it. Every now and then, one will want to pause, briefly lift from the counter to let the dough ‘pull back,’ cover with a towel/plastic wrap, and let the dough rest before continuing. Otherwise the gluten will just end up tight and spring back when it’s moved and thus re-thicken up.
  6. Once rolled up, cover with towel and let relax 5 minutes.20150628_140802
  7. Preheat oven 350F.20150628_141358
  8. Transfer dough to parchment-paper lined sheet tray and mist the top with water.20150628_141937
  9. Taking your desired spices/seasonings, sprinkle a covering over the dough in whatever alternating, evenly distributed, shaped, or other pattern desired over the dough. May want to gently pat them down afterward.20150628_142328
  10. If one desires shaped crackers, take a pizza cutter and quickly slice through dough to create the desired shapes. Do not feel the need to get particularly deep and thorough cuts, as dough will easily snap apart at the creases once baked and cooled later.20150628_145521
  11. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (if crackers are thick and not cooked throughout like desired, lower oven temp to 275-300F by this point and cook until fully dried out).
  12. Remove from oven, let cool at least 10 minutes, and snap off shards or pre-cut shapes.20150628_175005
  13. Place into serving basket or other container and enjoy alongside desired dip, topper, or other use.

What Have I Learned This Time?

Thinner, THINNER Damn You! I mean me. Damn Me.

20150628_135928Even after rolling it out to what seemed really thin, having made sure it had rested a few times, and without it shrinking back down a bit after lifting up (and even so I sorta re-stretched it a bit wider again), I’m still damn sure this is thicker than desired. It took longer to cook too, likely leading to the probably-darker-than-desired result you see in the pictures. Next time I attack a recipe like this, I think I just have to set myself to the reality that rolling out the dough should take at least half an hour, giving it multiple ample resting periods to prevent draw-back and to make sure I can get it wide safely.

Two more things; the book stated a measurement of 15”x12”, what I basically got it to, and still not where it should have been. So I’m just gonna say F-it next time.

NO MORE FLIPPING! I’m not sure if you do this, but when rolling out pie doughs and the like, I’ve developed the habit of flipping the dough over every now and then to make sure no side gets particularly stuck to the counter; plus help with even rolling. This is a BIG No-No for the cracker apparently, when there’s oil on the counter; after a couple flips just made it sticky and hard to roll out, probably cuz it was mixing with the dusting of flour.

Less Salt, More Whole Spices… at least go easy on the sodium sprinkles if needed.

Any Thoughts?

Why did I cut them into triangles again? Tartar works so much better on rectangular-ish thingies…

Does the Dough Like Me Yet?

Not sure, was hard to judge the dough itself this time, though it was rolling really well in the beginning so I think this one had potential to not hate my guts… good job me in turning that aside!

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