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Saturday, September 27, 2008

daring bakers is like crack... ers.

this month marks my first ev.er Daring Baker's event. i had tried unsuccessfully TWICE to sign up but i think the timing was off or whatever. all water under the bridge cus now i'm a member and i've learned SO MUCH in just one challenge. this month's challenge was Lavash Crackers & Toppings. i could make whatever toppings i wanted but had to make the lavash crackers recipe provided. loves it: flexibility but still some guidelines.

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Lavash Crackers & Toppings
from The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, 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 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. 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 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. 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 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. 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 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.


i seasoned with salt, garlic and thyme. i must not have rolled the dough thin enough because it came out some parts bread-y and other parts cracker-y. either way, it tasted good right out of the oven but as it cooled, it became hard and this metal mouth had a tough time. i did shape a few of them into hearts, just for giggles.

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for toppings, i made two: hummus and black olive tapenade, both recipes adapted from party food by Linda Doeser.

Hummus

1 1/2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup tahini (i didn't have any so i omitted this item, it really doesn't make a difference!)
4 garlic cloves
6 tbls water
salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (i used thyme instead)

place all the ingredients in food processor. process until smooth, adding water and/ more olive oil as needed.

Black olive tapenade

1 cup chopped black olives
6 bottled or canned anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained (i had some anchovy paste in a tube that worked well)
2 tbsp capers, rinsed
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
ground black pepper
4-5 tbsp olive oil

place all the ingredients in a food processor and process for 20-25 seconds, or until smooth.


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while i enjoyed the challenge of making my own crackers, the likelihood of me ever making them again is slim. it was the first time i'd ever played with yeast and the whole kneading thing was different. i'm not much of a cracker person anyway, with or without braces. but i liked trying something new. and plus now i'm addicted to daring bakers. :)

Last, but most def. not least, please don't forget about the upcoming month of October, it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. this is for a good cause. if you can't participate in the walk, bake for the Boob Off. you can read about it here.



13 comments:

  1. Great job....and welcome to the Daring Bakers!

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  2. Becoming addicted to the DB's is very easy to do! Just an FYI, there might be more messing with yeast in future challenges! It will be fun though :) Great Job!

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  3. Welcome to the Daring Bakers! Your crackers look great :D

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  4. YAY! I am so proud..what a great first challenge!
    The black olive tapanade? MMMM....!!!

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  5. Cheers on your first challenge! I gave tapenade a whirl too--couldn't you just eat it everyday? :)

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  6. crackers and tapenade - great combo. Congrats on your first DB challenge.

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  7. I've had a crazy craving for tapenade lately. I think I'll have to make some soon!

    Hope you enjoy the DB!

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  8. Great sounding dips! How wonderful that you were able to challenge yourself to something you hadn't done before! Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

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  9. Congratulations on completing your first DB challenge! Very nice choice of tepanade and hummus to go along with your lavash.

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  10. oooh that olive tempanade looks so good. You know apparently anchovies are really god in green chile too!

    I'm so proud of you! ;)

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  11. thanks to everyone who's commented, i've been to your pages too and i am just so impressed with everyone's creations, the innovative and daring ideas.

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  12. Mmmm.... your tapenade looks divine. I'm sure it tasted delicious with your crackers. Way to go on your first DB challenge!

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  13. Great job on your first DB challenge. Its great to have you in the group. Your dips look really yummy too.

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