Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hummus and Lavash

Well, for the September Daring Bakers' challenge we had a vegan recipe. Lavash crackers with any vegan dip we wanted. When I told Matt what it was he said, "A cracker? Boring." We already love hummus and I wasn't feeling all creative, so I just used my standard recipe.

The recipe didn't look difficult at all. I had to purchase some instant yeast since I still use dry-active. Not a big deal. I used sugar since I couldn't find agave syrup. The one problem I ran into was in the actual baking. When I rolled out the dough, I couldn't get it perfectly even. The edges were a bit thicker. I must have rolled mine out too thinly, because a good half of my dough burned when cooking a min. or two under the time specified on the recipe. So, the thinnest parts burned. The medium worked just fine and tasted good. The thick edges were a little chewy (but still better than the burned stuff I threw out).

I cut the batter into 3 sections. One section I used brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. One section I used kosher salt and cumin. The last section I used garlic salt. The worst was the sugar. Just didn't work. It burned the worst of the three batches. I didn't even like them enough to try and make a sweet dip for them. The best, by far, was the salt and cumin.

Matt actually really liked the taste of the Lavash with the hummus and said it might even be better suited for it than my pita bread I usually make. I guess I'll have to revisit this recipe and try not to roll my dough so thin next time!

Easy but delicious basic hummus:
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 cloves garlic (depending on how garlicky you like things and how big the cloves are)
½ teaspoon ground cumin (or you can just shake it in, like me. I never actually measure and it's slightly different every time)
½ teaspoon salt (I use kosher)
1+ tsp lemon juice (the bottled kind works if you don't have fresh)
2+ Tbsp olive oil
water (if needed)

1. In a food processor (or blender, but blender might be a little more difficult) combine garbanzo beans, garlic, cumin, salt, lemon, and olive oil.
2. Mix it well and taste it. It should be very smooth. If it’s gritty at all, or kind of dry, add more oil or lemon juice or water (a little at a time) and blend some more. Add more salt, cumin or lemon juice, as your taste buds so desire…

Also, if it doesn't taste quite like store bought, it's because store hummus has tahini paste in it that gives a little sesame flavor. I don't care for it much in hummus.

variation ideas:
  • roast a head of garlic in place of the fresh garlic.
  • roast a red pepper (or buy a can of roasted red pepper) and include
  • chipotle pepper (or powder) for a smokey twist
  • fresh dill to taste
  • tahini paste (most store bought hummus has it, but I don't care for it which is why I like mine better!)
  • add cilantro
This pairs well with:

"The best pita ever" (according to my food critic husband)


Lavash "this might even be better with hummus than pitas" (according to my dh)

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 … ong-Enough for a description 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 pre-cut 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.

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