When the September Daring Bakers Challenge was posted by Shel and Natalie, I was thrilled to see that it was a savory challenge instead of a sweet challenge! Don't get me wrong--- anyone that knows me knows that my breakfast, lunch and dinner usually includes some form of sugar, but I was ready to try something different.
Color me surprised (what color is surprised? Orange? I like orange and not many people wear it, so that can represent surprised)... color me orange when I saw the challenge for September was to make Lavash Crackers and to also make a dip/spread/salsa/relish to go along with the crackers. Sounded tricky. But guess what? They even threw in a little obstacle of requiring the dip to be vegan and gluten free.
Now, one would think that most vegetarians would probably not have a problem with this requirement. But I panicked. I don't eat meat, but I also don't exactly eat a proper vegetarian diet. I don't supplement other healthy vitamins and nutrients and proteins and all of those other things into my meals. I just quite simply leave the meat out of my diet. I sit and eat dinner with my family and fill up on the side dishes and call it a meal.
And, I'm a picky eater, to boot. I'm not a fan of blended, earthy things. I don't like my food mixed. I don't like spices and I don't care for most vegetables that are eaten raw or in a salsa. I was feeling a little overwhelmed at the idea of creating a dip/spread/salsa/relish.
And I even had to look up the actual definitions of "vegan" and "gluten-free".
I somehow managed to come across a dip that not only fit into the vegan/gluten-free category, but also found one that I knew I would like! (Bonus!)
The challenge allowed a lot of room to express our own creativity. The recipe for the Lavash was a basic recipe and we were able to choose any seasoning, spice or flavoring that we wanted.
I choose to season my Lavash Crackers with Sesame Seed and I made a Creamy Thai Peanut Dip to go along with them. The recipe was amazingly easy. I was thrilled that I actually made it through a challenge without incident. That may have been a first for me since joining the Daring Bakers in April!
Check out my Lavash Crackers and be sure to click on the Daring Bakers page to see other completed challenges. Some of them are a~m~a~z~i~n~g!
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 2 sheet pans of crackers
* 1 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/2 tsp instant yeast
* 1 Tb sugar
* 1 Tb vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb 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, sugar, 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. 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. (Mine took longer.... about 15 minutes)
The dough should pass the windowpane test (where you pull off a little glob and use both hands to stretch it apart. If there is a thin film that doesn't break, it is complete.).
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.
3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (Again, mine was more like 2 hours).
4. Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer 1/2 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 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.)
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.
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.
Repeat steps 4-6 with with other half of dough.
Creamy Thai Dip
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Combine all ingredients; mix well. Makes ¾ cup