Saturday, September 27, 2008

First Ever Bakers Challenge

Before I get into the long version, I should let you know that these were very, very easy to make. Especially if you own a stand have no excuse not to try's that easy. So yes, should try these. Same for the Baba Ganoush. Try it for'll look like an expert:)
For some time now I have been watching posts from other people who have taken part in the Daring Bakers Monthly Challenge, and considered signing up. Take a look at their blog roll and see some of the most awesome food blogs around.........I thought it would be a good way to try something new each month and the September Challenge did not disappoint me. Very often the monthly challenge ends up being a sweet item, and this time it was savoury item. I was pretty happy about the choice this month since I had seen a recipe in an old Fine Cooking magazine on making crackers, that has been on my to do list for some time now. The challenge this month was for making Lavash, an Armenian flat bread/cracker and a vegetarian dip of your choice to go along with. I chose to make Baba Ganoush to go along with it, as it seemed to be the logical choice and was very happy with the results. I will definitely be making Lavash again. This time, I used 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, and the rest white and sprinkled the tops with smoked paprika, black sesame seeds and some pink sea salt. I also tried the Lavash with the antipasto I made last night, and it was very yummy too!

1 1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 T sugar
1 T vegetable oil
1/3 cup-1/2 cup plus 2 T water at room temperature

In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, salt, yeast, sugar, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together in a ball. You may not use all of the water, I needed all of it plus a few drops more.

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 for a description 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. I did the kneading part in my kitchenaid mixer and it took about 12 minutes on speed 2.

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).

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.

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 (I used a pastry cutter with a fluted edge) 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.

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).

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 found if you baked them till golden they were crisp on the outside, but chewy on the inside kind of like a pita. The second batch I left to brown more and they were cracker crisp. Both batches had crackers that puffed up like pita. Some other bakers had suggested putting the seasonings in the dough and I would have done this if I had known what spices I was going to use in the end, but it ended up being a last minute I put them on top.

Baba Ganoush

1 large egg plant
3 T tahini
3 T lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp cumin
salt to taste
1 T extra virgin olive oil for garnish
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped for garnish
1 tsp parsley,chopped for garnish

Brush eggplant with oil and grill over medium flame to blacken skin, about 10 minutes. Move eggplant to baking sheet and place in 375F oven for 20 minutes or until eggplant is soft. Once soft, remove from oven and peel away skin. Mash eggplant and stir in other ingredients, or pulse in food processor with remaining ingredients. Garnish with drizzled olive oil, parsley and chopped olives.


Gretchen Noelle said...

I love the crinkle edges on your crackers, they are adorable! Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Eat4Fun said...

Congratulations on completing your first DB Challenge! Great looking lavash and the way the lavash is cut adds a nice touch. The Baba Ganoush looks very yummy!

Lauren said...

Ooo, your lavash looks wonderful! Congrats on your first challenge!

LittleRed said...

Thank you for the encouraging comments. I really enjoyed the September Challenge and am looking forward to the next!

silverrock said...

Mmmm... baba ganoush!! That looks great! Way to go on your first DB challenge, your crackers look tasty