First, an apology for being so tardy on this challenge. I have no good reason other than September simply ran away from me. Busy weekends, busy work, and this just got pushed to the back burner. But I am so happy that I stayed the course and still gave this a try because this is a phenomenal recipe that can be adapted to suit any taste. This was also an historical month for the Daring Bakers – this month we went vegan (insert shrill shrieking from this bacon cheeseburger fiend)! Thanks to Natalie of Gluten a Go Go and Shel of Musings from the Fishbowl for co-hosting this monumental event. And if that weren’t exciting enough, September was also my 1-year anniversary as a Daring Baker. What fun I’ve had expanding my baking repertoire and pushing my boundaries. Thank you to Lis and Ivonne for creating and maintaining such a wonderful group! And now onto these crackers!
This was a really easy recipe to pull together, involving probably less than 30 minutes of active preparation time. The key to get a nice crisp cracker out of this recipe is to roll the dough out as thin as possible. I actually considered using my pasta roller to get a really thin piece of dough, but just ended up working it with the rolling pin, which was just fine. Some of the edges were slightly thicker, but overall this turned out just great. I seasoned half of the sheet with just some kosher salt, and the other half with salt, parsley, and basil. I also did a hybrid of pre-cut crackers and just breaking the sheet into shards. Both are equally charming :) I have to say, the crackers I made with Italian seasoning tasted just like Wheat Thins, and I can’t wait to try different variations, maybe even a Parmesan cracker! The possibilities are endless!
Part of this challenge included the creation of a vegan and/or gluten-free dip or spread to pair with the lavash crackers. This is where my time certainly got the better of me, as I didn’t complete this section of the challenge, but did want to share with everyone the dip that I had planned on making, and still intend to do so at some point. This Roasted Red Pepper and White Bean Dip would be a great accompaniment to these crackers, or any other pita-style bread, crackers, or vegetables. I can’t wait to try it!
One year ago: Cinnamon Buns
Yield: 1 sheet pan of crackers
Prep Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
1½ cups (6.75 ounces) unbleached bread flour
½ teaspoon (.13 ounce) salt
½ teaspoon (.055 ounce) instant yeast
1 tablespoon (.75 ounce) honey
1 tablespoon (.5 ounce) vegetable oil
1/3 to ½ cup (3 to 4 ounces) water, at room temperature
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for topping
1. In mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, yeast, honey, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full ½ cup water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.
2. 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 and register 77° to 81°F. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough, satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough tot he 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 instead retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading.)
4. 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.
5. Preheat the oven to 350°F 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; a little goes a long way. If you want precut crackers, 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 being 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.
(Source: Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice, pages 178-180)