Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Warm-weather baking

With the temperature up near 90 every day here in the mid-Hudson Valley, I've still had a hankering to bake, but not to crank the oven up to 500 for a couple of hours. The solution is the delicious seasoned Armenian crackers called lavash, that bake at only 350 for 20 or so minutes. The recipe is adapted from Peter Reinhart's The Bread-Baker's Apprentice (so the measurements are in ounces, not grams). My touch is to substitute some sourdough (or levain). But you can make it with just flour. (see note)


5.25 ounces all purpose flour
3 ounces levain (see my recipe for levain
.13 ounce salt
1/2 teas. instant yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 ounces water
Assorted seeds and seasonings: E.g., sesame, poppy, and flax seeds, paprika, coarse sea salt, whatever you like

NOTE: If not using levain, increase flour to 6.75 ounces and water to 3.5 ounces.

  1. Combine all ingredients. Dough should be tight, but if crumbly add a bit more water, a tablespoon at a time.
  2. Knead for 10 minutes. The dough should be silky and smooth, a lovely dough to work with.
  3. Ferment in bowl covered with plastic wrap, at room temp for 2 to 2-1/2 hours
  4. Preheat oven to 350 deg. F.
  5. Press out into a rectangle on a floured countertop, then roll out as evenly as possible to fit a standard sheet pan (do not use an insulated cookie sheet). You may have to occasionally pick up and move the dough or let it rest a few minutes if it keeps snapping back. Take your time and get the dough as paper-thin as possible.
  6. Cover the sheet pan with parchment paper and transfer the dough, stretching out by hand to fit. Trim any dough that hangs over the edge.
  7. Lightly mist the dough with water, and sprinkle with alternating rows of seeds and seasonings, overlapping slightly. Press seeds into dough with your hands
  8. Bake in center of oven 15-20 minutes until crackers just start to brown.
  9. Remove from oven and cool on rack.
  10. Break into shards and serve.

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