Hi everyone! We returned mid-week from our fabulous “mini-moon” in Asheville. The wedding was more beautiful than I could have imagined and went off without a hitch. Well… if there were any, I didn’t know about them, which is the way it should be, right? Both Jeff and I were probably most touched by how many of our lovely friends and family members traveled such long distances to be with us in our somewhat remote location. We hope you had as much fun as we did! We’ve gotten a few photos sent to us by friends and family. Here’s one of my favorites. Note the flowers. Killer, huh?
Now, on to the matter at hand. Today is Daring Bakers day! I made the challenge recipe the weekend before the wedding, so I was a little bit rushed and therefore not all that creative. This month we were challenged to make a vegan and/or gluten-free version of lavash crackers with whatever kind of dip we wanted, as long as it was vegan and gluten-free. This was the first challenge designed to accommodate those the group fondly refers to as “alternative bakers” and was hosted by Natalie of Gluten a Go Go and Shel of Musings From the Fishbowl. I knew from the beginning I’d make my crackers whole-wheat and therefore sacrifice the gluten-free aspect while still remaining within the rules by keeping it vegan. I’ll admit that it took me a little while to think of a dip that didn’t involve cheese of some kind, but finally I realized I could use my other favorite ingredient, olives, to make a tapenade, which needs no wheat or dairy products to shine.
Below you’ll find the recipe for the lavash crackers from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice as well as the recipe for the tapenade, which was based on a Cooking Light recipe. Both recipes were very easy to make (especially with the right make-your-life-easier tools – a stand mixer and food processor.) I had a little trouble getting the baking time right for the crackers. The first batch, which I topped with minced rosemary and sea salt, didn’t get quite brown enough. Then I overdid the second batch, which was topped with sesame seeds and sea salt. I found that both batches were more to my liking after they’d sat for a day. Even though I rolled out my dough to what I thought was the right thinness, they were still a bit soft out of the oven. After a day they really crisped up and became more cracker-like. I’d definitely make them again for a nice appetizer and can already think of some great (cheesy) dips to go with them….
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.
For this tapenade I liked a combo of kalamata and green olives, added a few pimentos, and would have preferred an extra squeeze of lemon juice and a few drops of olive oil.
Green Olive and Artichoke Tapenade
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
3 tablespoons capers, drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
10 large pitted green olives
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to desired smoothness.
From Cooking Light