Tuesday, September 30, 2008

DB Challenge - Lavash Crackers w/ Vegan Dip

I am sorry this post is a little late! I could give you the usual list of excuses...but, really, I'm just proud that I got this done before October 1. :-) Rejoice with me!

On Monday, we had a dinner with 10 heads at the table. It was Lo Gung's parents' last night here in town, and there was a Chinese family in the Stake that wanted to meet them, and Will's aunt and uncle. So...we were 10, plus BBJ. Quite a feat to fit us all around a table that usually seats 6!

MaMa made pigs tongue, pork and carrot soup, bok choy with ginger, tofu with ground beef and green onions, and curry potatoes and chicken.

I made crackers. Oh, and a dip. Aren't I amazing? Thanks - I thought so, too.

Luckily enough, our guests brought some delicious oatmeal cookies. After dinner, we all snacked on crackers, cookies and apples (fresh picked yesterday afternoon). The apples were the first to go, followed shortly thereafter by the crackers. I think I was the only one who ate a cookie.

The Moral of this Story is: If you want something salty to be snacked up, serve it to a bunch of Chinese people! As Lo Gung so sweetly pointed out last night - I was the ONLY "white girl" at the table, and now I have that whole plate of cookies to myself. I guess we all come out happy in the end!

For our September Daring Baker's Challenge, we were challenged to make Vegan and/or Gluten-Free crackers, with a Vegan topping or dip. (Really, I was just excited to see a recipe whose every ingredient was already a staple in my pantry!)

The crackers were not my favorite thing, and I don't think I'll make them again. However, the 8 crackers that were left over after last night's dinner party were scooped up by my mother in law this morning to snack on during her flight home. (Did you SEE the menu from last night's dinner? I assure you, the compliment was not lost on me!) I topped my crackers with kosher salt and some sesame seeds. I rolled my dough out on a Silpat and then transferred the whole sheet to the baking pan, and I got it nowhere NEAR thin enough to be a cracker. These came out more like Pilot Crackers than Saltines. If I wanted to make it any thinner, I would have had to divide the dough into two parts and cooked it on two sheets. There was no "snapping" going on with these crackers. They came out of the oven still a bit soft, kind of like a hard pita bread. After the crackers had cooled completely, however, they were very snappy and cracky.

I made a Peanut Orange Dip to pair with the crackers. It turned out fairly well, but I have so much left over...I think I see chicken satay in my near future! The orange juice added a really unexpected zing to the dip - very nice!

Peanut Orange Dip:

1/2 cup creamy Peanut Butter

5 T. Orange Juice

2 T. Sweet Chili Sauce (sold as a sauce for chicken in Asian grocery stores)

2 t. soy sauce

2 t. tamari (dark soy sauce, or "louh chau")

2 t. white sugar

1 t. sesame oil

Mix together until smooth.

Lavash Crackers (Vegan, not Gluten Free)

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour

1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt

1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast

1 Tb (.75 oz) 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 (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bread-Dough-Has-Been-Mixed-Long-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.

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.

6. 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).

7. 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.

1 comment: