Saturday, September 27, 2008
I was so excited to find out that my very first Daring Bakers challenge would be a gluten-free treat. For months, I have been amazed at the wonderful posts of DB participants; I finally gathered up my courage to sign on. This month's challenged was hosted by Shell at Shellyfish and Natalie at Gluten A Go Go.
This month's challenge was to make gluten-free lavash crackers with a vegan, gluten-free topping. Lavash is a delicious middle eastern cracker bread.
The recipe that the Daring Bakers all followed came from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. However, we were given the freedom to be as creative with the flavoring as we wished to be.
Here's the recipe for the Lavash crackers as it was given:
Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers
* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or 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. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: 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-Bre … ong-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.
2. 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. 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. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: 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.
4. 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.
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.
5. 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).
6. 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 decided to make two versions: For the first one, I started thinking about it in terms of color. I wanted a contrast between red and green.
I used beet cooking water for the first batch of dough. I added 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds for extra flavor. I also thought it would be fun to shape the cracker dough into little cups to hold the spread.
Then, I whipped up an eggplant, spinach and roasted garlic dip topping to go with it.
For the second batch, I wanted to create a different type visual point of focus. I used the recipe given but decided to incrust whole cilantro leaves in each cracker and coarse sea salt. I served it with a velvety butternut squash white bean dip.
It's wonderful to see how inventive everyone has been with this challenge. Some bakers made sweets with the very same recipe and with a dip to match. Some concocted brilliant salsas... Check out the creativity by going through the Daring Bakers Blogroll.
Here are the recipes for the dips I created:
Butternut Squash & White Bean Spread with White Truffle Oil
12 oz frozen butternut squash, thawed
1 15oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
3 teaspoon white truffle oil
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Blend all the ingredients in a food processor.
Eggplant Spinach Spread with Roasted Garlic
1.5 lbs small eggplants, end-cap removed (should be about 3 small)
1 head garlic, top layer cut off to reveal cloves
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup olive tapenade
3 tablespoons tahini
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped
Preheat oven 375F
Oil cookie sheet.
Sprinkle olive oil on head of garlic. Wrap the whole head of garlic in aluminum foil.
Place the wrapped up garlic and eggplants on the cookie sheet and bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven.
Let cool until cold enough to handle.
Cut eggplants in half and scrape the inside off with a spoon. Transfer to bowl of food processor.
Squeeze the roasted garlic into the food processor, followed by all the other ingredients. Pulse until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl a few times if necessary.