Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daring Bakers Go Crispy

Today is once again my favorite day of the month. The day that I can finally tell the world what the top secret Daring Baker recipe was this month. This months hosts were Natalie from Gluten a Go Go and Shel from Musings from the Fishbowl. They made Daring Bakers's history this month by presenting us with a recipe that would be made vegan and if we were daring enough even gluten free. Thank you ladies for hosting a great challenge. As always don't forget to checkout the Daring Bakers's blogroll to see all the other member's crackers.

We were supposed to make these Lavash crackers along with a gluten free, vegan dip/spread to accompany them. I was a little short on time and was never creative enough to come up with the dip so I simply paired them with some salsa my mother-in-law made and shared with me. I was hoping to make another batch with cinnamon and sugar on top and pair them with a fruit salsa but apparently time got the best of me and I did not quite get that far.

These crackers were very simple to prepare, probably the easiest thing I have ever made with yeast. I did not have much of a problem rolling the dough out thin enough, a couple of my crackers had air bubbles in them but for the most part they were thin and deliciously crispy. I added kosher salt to the top of half of my dough and sesame seeds and paprika to the other half. I preferred the salted ones. Really, who knew that making crackers was so darn easy. I think I may have fallen in love with these, I will definitely be making them time and time again.

Lavash Crackers
Source: The Bread Baker's Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart

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 teaspoon (.13 oz) salt
1/2 teaspoon (.055 oz) instant yeast
1 tablespoon (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar (the book calls for honey, but it is not vegan)
1 tablespoon (.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. 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.
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.
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.


Rachel said...

I agree with you on this being the easiest when dealing with yeast..Great job.

Anonymous said...

Your crackers look fantastic. Well done!!

Anonymous said...

Your crackers look great! It looks like you got them to the perfect thickness. It's nice that making crackers is so easy- next time I think I'll add paprika too.

Anonymous said...

Your crackers look very good. I agree, I'll be making these again and again.

Anonymous said...

Looks great!
I nominated your blog for the E for Excellent Award. Check out my blog for details :)

Anonymous said...

Definitely the easiest time I've ever had working with yeast! They look great!

Holly said...

Your crackers came out perfectly thin and delicious looking!

That Girl said...

They totally look like boxed crackers.

giz said...

I also liked the ones with kosher salt. The lavash was a fun thing to do this month and not that complicated at all.

Mother Bliss said...

Wow, your crackers look so professional! Great job!

Dawn said...

Great blog, but if I may offer a challenge? I would love to see your suggestion(s) for my most uninspired meal of the day - brown baging a lunch to eat at my desk. (I am sure as the economy heads the way it is, I am not the only reader who maybe down-sizing at midday.)
I am fed up with the old stand-bys of PB&J or ham & cheese. Surely the person who came up with Rocky Road Bread can help me!
Thank you and well done!

An Apron Straitjacket said...

Great job, they look scrumptious!

Mary said...

Who needs dip when your lavash looks that fabulous? The cinnamon sugar idea is one I was thinking about as well.

Jaime said...

wonderful job w/the lavash!

Ally said...

I've been a bad daring baker this month, but with moving into the new house I just couldn't find the time. The crackers look wonderful and light!