Saturday, September 27, 2008
This months Daring Bakers Challenge was an über-fun recipe for lavash crackers hosted by Shellyfish over at Musings From the Fishbowl and Natalie at Gluten A Go-Go. We were to make the lavash crackers vegan, with the option of going gluten-free, and a vegan-gluten-free dip for the crackers. The crackers turned out amazing. The only thing stopping me from making them again is the outrageous kneading involved. Like most people, I ended up having to knead much longer than the specified 10 minutes, I think I finally gave out at about 25 minutes of kneading, and it could've used about 5 minutes more in my opinion. Thankfully I was able to coerce Husband to knead for about 10, because I think my shoulders may have actually caught fire if I'd done it all myself.
The vegan, gluten-free dip I chose to make was a roasted garlic-white bean-sage dip. It's a recipe I found a while ago and tucked away to make in the future. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to dust it off and try it out. Sadly, I wasn't really impressed. I think it may just be my dislike of white beans though. You know how make something that has a main ingredient you're not really fond of but you think maybe, just this once, you'll like it? Yeah. Not so much. Husband liked it, though.
So, a big Thank You to our lovely hosts, Shelly and Natalie! This was a super fun exploration into the world of vegan/gluten-free cooking. This cracker recipe is getting filed away for lots of future use!
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 (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre … ong-Enough 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.
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.
(Note: I would like to point out that I checked my crackers at about 12 minutes and they were already burnt in parts. I made some as a sheet to snap into shards and I cut the other into squares. Nearly every single one of the square crackers was burnt to a crisp. The sheet fared better, but it was still burnt around the edges. I recommend baking for no longer than 10 minutes.
Roasted Garlic and White Bean Dip with Sage
2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
5 garlic cloves
10 sage leaves
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 head garlic, top sliced off
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
In a saucepan combine beans,5 garlic cloves, sage leaves, bay leaves, and 2 teaspoons of olive oil with enough water to cover.
Simmer, covered, about 8 minutes.
Remove bay leaves and drain, reserving the broth.
Preheat oven to 350°F
Rub the head of garlic with a little of the remaining olive oil and put it in a small baking dish and add 1/4 cup water.
Bake uncovered until soft and caramelized, about 45 minutes.
Cool, then squeeze out the softened garlic.
Puree the beans in a food processor with all the garlic, the remaining olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and enough bean broth to give the beans a soft, spreadable consistency.
Season to taste with lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.