My deepest, darkest secret is that sometimes, I eat cheese and crackers for dinner.
Actually, not sometimes.
Often. It’s my go-to dinner when I don’t feel like cooking.
For some people, it’s cereal and milk. For others, it’s takeout from the Thai place on the corner.
When I’m not in the mood to cook, which is seldom — it’s more likely that I’ll not cook because I’m not in the mood to do dishes — I break out a box of whole wheat crackers, the creamiest brie I can afford and maybe some fig jam or my favorite store-bought hummus.
However, eating cheese and crackers for dinner really isn’t such a shortcut when you occasionally bake your own crackers.
Though I typically buy my own crackers, there have been few occasions that have merited baking them.
Finding an especially delicious recipe accounts for one occasion and the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge is another.
Lavash is a Middle Eastern flatbread, similar to the Mexican tortilla but baked to a crisp, golden brown sheet and then broken into shards, into rough, unevenly shaped crackers perfect for dipping or topping with a creamy cheese.
I’m breaking the Rule again. I’m posting this recipe because it’s easy.
But winter is coming.
You need projects that will keep you inside next to a hot oven. You can do it.
Besides, the recipe is already out there anyway because the Daring Bakers made it.
- 1½ cups unbleached bread flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ⅓ to ½ 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
- 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 ½ cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.
- 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 register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel 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.
- 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 (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 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.