I have been wanting to join daring bakers for ages. But I should probably have waited until after my vacation was over. The first recipe was due right before my vacation started and the second was due shortly after I came back.
This didn’t leave me much time to fix issues and play with the recipe. I was scared of this with the second recipe because of what happened with the first. The first was a French eclaire recipe which turned out beautifully but my photo’s failed. Because I was in a rush I ended up using harsh summer sun that was on the verge of setting which gave everything a ghastly yellow tinge.
So it was with trepidation that I mixed up the first batch of this lavash. I used it as an excuse to try my newly acquired porcini mushroom and herb olive oil which I had picked up in Seattle’s Pike Place Market at the tiny Sotto Voce stall. It had a heavenly mushroom aroma that I could not wait to taste in something.
I figured bread was as good a place as any to start.
This was done for the Daring Baker's challenge for September!
I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of working with yeast dough. My aversion started in my mom’s doughnut shop when I was very young and continued when my mom traded the doughnut shot for a pizza place. Both the pizza dough and the bread dough that she made by hand were fickle. Made in large quantities it had to be handled just so and risen just so and baked just so. It was good but acted like a prima dona.
So I didn’t have high hopes for enjoying the process of making the lavash.
I was however pleasantly surprised.
Kneaded silky smooth, it was a complete pleasure to work with. Elastic but not springy it was surprisingly easy to stretch to incredible size. So large in fact that my first batch was too big to fit in the half sheet pan that I had prepared for it. Which I solved by turning the sheet pan upside down and draping the excess dough over the edges. But the dough stretched without complained or rolling pin, spreading like butter beneath my oiled fingers.
I was in love with this dough. I wanted to touch it and shape it and roll it around in my hands. It felt wonderful beneath my fingers. Like a living stress ball. I had to restrain myself lest I had nothing left to bake. But even as I worked with the first batch, I knew that I was going to make this dough again.
The first batch I cooked as per the directions, till crisp. But as the family started nibbling and tasting, I was treated to a chorus of grousing and small fights breaking out over the pieces of the lavash that were thicker. At once point there may even have been an incident of a particularly puffy piece being turn asunder as two combatants grabbed for it at the same time…but we won’t mention that part.
Wishing to prevent a family bread massacre I made my second batch thicker. This time changing out the mushroom infused olive oil for an orange and peppercorn infused one. I baked this second batch into a thin but still puffy and chewy bread much to the satisfied murmurings of my family.
And just like the first time, I thoroughly enjoyed working with the dough. To the point where I am beginning to think of other ways of using it. My mother suggested making piroshki with it while I immediately though of pizza crust. But really this dough is about as versatile as it gets. With a little modification I am even thinking I could make this dough into a fairly decent bagel.
And because this uses rapid rise (or instant yeast) this dough couldn’t be easier to mix up. None of the making sure the temperature of your water is warm enough but not so warm that it kills the yeast and none of the mixing and waiting. Just drop the yeast into the mix and watch it work. Huzzah! And the recipe can even be made gluten free.
What is there not to love?
The second part of the challenge, and I will fully admit to faking it on this….was a vegan and gluten free something or other to go with the wonderful bread. I had planned to make a lima bean dip but go way too lazy when I couldn’t find pre-shelled lima beans at the store.
What I did have was a bag of edamame burning a hole (so to speak) in my freezer. So I cooked them up and dropped them in with some pine nut and a handful of roasted garlic to create a soft, mellow pate like spread that ended up a perfect match for the slightly sweet chewy bread.
All in all a very satisfying challenge.
And I got a winner of a flat bread recipe that I am certain I will be making again and again.
Adapted from the daring bakers challenge
Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers or bread
1 ½ cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour 
½ tsp (.13 oz) salt
½ tsp (.055 oz) rapid rise (instant) yeast
1 Tb (.75 oz) honey 
1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil 
½ cup (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings
In the bowl of your mixer, add the flour, salt yeast, honey, oil, and 1/3 cup of your water. Using the mixing attachment, mix until the dough begins to form a ball. Add more water or oil if the dough is dry and a little more flour if the dough is sticky. Scrape the dough off the mixing attachment and attach the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and a little bit passes the window pane test  (see photo).
The dough should feel like a gel stress ball. 
Dribble a half a tablespoon of oil into a bowl. Roll the dough into a ball and then coat in oil. Cover the bowl and place in a warm place. I use my oven as the pilot light keeps the dough warm. If you want a faster rise you can place a bowl of hot water beneath your dough.
Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size.
Place a piece of parchment paper cut to the size of your baking sheet on your counter. Place your oiled dough ball on the parchment and scoop out the remaining oil from the bowl onto the parchment. Spread the oil over the parchment in a thin layer. Place the dough ball in the center of the parchment and gently press it into a square shape. The dough should yield easily to light fingertip pressure. Stretch evenly to desired size. Slide the parchment with your stretched dough onto your baking sheet. The thinner the dough the crisper it will bake, the thicker the more chewy and bread-like it will be. The dough is pliable enough to be stretched paper thin though you might need to let it rest between stretching. For a puffier flat bread cover the dough and let it rise again.  To prevent the dough from bubbling, poke it all over with a fork. Go nuts if you want, great way to relieve stress.
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.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the dough begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).
When the dough is baked, remove the pan from the oven and letit cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap it apart or snap off shards and serve. If you make a thicker version, cut into desired size and server.
1 ½ Cups Shelled Edamame
Handful of toasted pine nuts
Handful of roasted garlic
Handful of cilantro
1 – 2 tablespoons of oil
Salt to taste
Put everything in the food processor and blend until it becomes a smooth thick paste. If the mixture is reluctant to blend, add water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture comes together.
*I used sesame seeds and Moldavian Red Salt for the topping.
** Note how thinly the dough is stretched and still hasn’t ripped. This dough is ready.
*** See how smooth and shiny the ball of dough is.
**** The pool of oil is fine it will be used later to oil the parchment.
***** Doubled in size
 For a gluten free bread use gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
 Or use agave syrup or sugar as honey is not vegan
 This is a great chance to use flavored oil. Both the mushroom and the orange olive oils were delicious.
 The window pane test is when you take a small bit of dough and strech it out so that it is nearly transparent. If you can do this without the dough tearing easily then the gluten in the dough is developed enough and the dough is ready for rising.
 For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky.
 For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.