Another month is drawing to a close, which means that I could be seen scrambling around the kitchen this morning, in efforts to finish my September Daring Bakers Challenge. At the beginning of each month, I vow that I am not going to wait until the last minute to post, but that sneaky due date creeps up on me without fail. Wasn't it just September 15th? Well, maybe next month I'll be more on the ball........maybe.
Despite what the whole "waiting until the last minute" technique may imply, I was actually really excited about this "Lavash Crackers and Toppings" challenge, when it was posted by Shelly of Musings From the Fishbowl and Natalie of Gluten A Go Go at the beginning of September. Finally, we had a challenge that involves something light, even healthy, which I won't need to send over to the neighbors after I take one bite. I also welcome any opportunity to improve my bread-baking skills, especially ethnic or non-traditional types of bread. The closest that I have ever come to making homemade crackers was flatbread pizzas, so this challenge was right up my alley. It also kept ingredients to a minimum, requiring items that most of us likely had in our pantries to begin with, which was really appreciated on my part. Thanks, Shelly and Natalie! Great choice!
This month's challenge asked us to prepare Lavash Crackers, per the recipe in Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. We were also tasked with creating a dip/spread/salsa/or relish to go with the lavash. Our creativity was encouraged as far as flavor choices for the crackers and dip (I can't wait to see what everyone came up with.)
I decided to go with a Mediterranean theme for both my lavash and dip. I added a heaping tablespoon of pistachio pesto into the dough before kneading, and then I topped it with a mixture of dried rosemary, fennel seeds, sea salt, red pepper flakes, dried tomato flakes, coarse pepper, and oregano (I pretty much just went through my spice collection and threw something together.) For the dip, I decided to pair it with something that I almost always have in my refrigerator, Mediterranean Roasted Eggplant Dip. This dip is so easy to prepare, really healthy, and it goes over well at parties.
Overall, I am really happy with my results. The lavash could be a bit more crisp, but I was afraid of burning the dough because it was so thin. My only complaint? I should have made a double batch. Eric is going to finish these off in one sitting! If you want to see this month's recipe, it is posted on both of our hosts' blogs. Here are a few comments and observations from my first foray into flatbread:
- The direction state that the dough should proof, or ferment, for 90 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size. My dough took quite a bit longer to double, about 2 1/2 hours. This may have been due to the addition of the pesto.
- Instead of mixing and kneading the dough by hand, I used the dough hook and my trusty KitchenAid mixer (is that cheating?). It just seemed like a much easier and cleaner method for making sure that the ingredients were well distributed and the dough reached the correct texture.
- As you can probably tell from the photos, I did not roll my dough into a perfect square shape (as much as I tried, it would just not cooperate.) I figure that I would eventually be breaking the lavash into irregular-sized pieces anyhow, so the perfect square was not really important.
- Per a suggestion from the instructions, I divided the fermented dough into two pieces, and then I rolled each one out separately. I would have had one very large piece if I had kept the dough whole, and I don't have a cookie sheet (or oven for that matter) that large!
- I encountered a bit of trouble when the time came to transfer the rolled out dough to the parchment-lined baking sheet. The dough did not transfer gracefully, and I ended up rolling it out again on top of the parchment.