Daring Baker’s Challenge: Lavash crackers & vegan 7-layer dip!

This month the DB challenge intrigued me. Lavash crackers. What the hell are those!? Well, Lavash crackers are an Armenian style cracker, perfect for breadbaskets, company and kids…It is similar to the many other Middle Eastern and Northern African flatbreads known by different names, such as mankoush or mannaeesh (Lebanese), barbari (Iranian), khoubiz or khobz (Arabian), aiysh (Egyptian), kesret and mella (Tunisian), pide or pita (Turkish), and pideh (Armenian).  The main difference between these breads is either how thick or thin the dough is rolled out, or the type of oven in which they are baked (or on which they are baked, as many of these breads are cooked on stones or red-hot pans with a convex surface). For this challenge we had to make some Lavash crackers AND a dip/spread/relish/salsa to have with it. The crackers can either be made with all-purpose flour or made gluten-free, which is pretty awesome (hey Jamie- are you reading this? Haha). I made non gluten-free, because I had all-purpose flour in the house. But I am curious as to how the gluten-free comes out so if someone makes these (*cough*Jamie*cough*) let me know!

Sounds pretty good so far, huh? The only restrictions we were given were that the aforementioned dip/spread/relish/salsa had to be vegan. That was a bit of challenge for me, since I’m like the anti-christ to vegans.* My diet would make a vegan literally break down and cry. I eat more cheese and dairy than anything, and I love it, not to mention my passionate love affair with chicken. But -that did not deter me. I’m always up for a challenge! (*Please- vegans, don’t take that as me being an asshole… I mean I am an asshole, but I do admire the fact that you not only believe so strongly in this that you’re willing to give up not only cheese but cream, and all dairy in addition to meat and eggs… but also that your willpower allows you to do so)

So I came up with a really easy, totally brainless vegan dip using Tofutti cream cheese and vegan cheese; which sort of frightens me, seeing as how I have no idea whats in that.. so I myself didn’t try it.  Yeah yeah, I’m a chicken… whatever. But my mother did- that brave woman- and she said it was great and you’d never know it was vegan.

I topped my lavash with poppy seeds, sesame seeds and cumin seeds. You can use just about anything though- roasted garlic and onion, paprika, kosher salt, etc. Or make it sweet and use cinnamon sugar or confectioner’s sugar, or vanilla sugar. Yum. I will also post the recipes for Honeydew-Peach Salsa  and Tahitian Almond dipping sauce as well (click the ‘continue reading’ link below for all recipes), since whether you go for a sweeter lavash or a savory lavash the honeydew-peach salsa would still probably be delicious, and the Tahitian Almond dipping sauce sounds interesting. Also, try the salsa with grilled seafoods and poultry, or over rice noodles. Chiles could also be added to the salsa, to taste. Is best eaten within several hours of preparation. Use organic ingredients if at all possible. A chocolate fondue type of dip would be excellent if you made sweet lavash, and I’ve heard people making lavash pizzas… so theres a lot you can do with these little crackers.

Woops… theres a lil bit of parchment stuck on that one! 😀

So once again the Daring Baker’s come up with a fantastic recipe!

LAVASH CRACKERS

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ 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)
  • ½ tsp (.13 oz) salt
  • ½ tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
  • 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
  • 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
  • 1/3 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

Directions:

1.  In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave/sugar, 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 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.

or

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.

or

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.

VEGAN 7-LAYER DIP

Ingredients:

  • 1 8 ounce package Tofutti vegan cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp taco seasoning mix
  • 1 cup pre-made guacamole
  • 1 cup pre-made salsa
  • ¾ cup lettuce, finely shredded
  • 1 cup vegan cheese, grated
  • ½ cup green onions, diced
  • 2 tbsp sliced black olives

Preparation:

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the Tofutti vegan cream cheese and the taco seasoning. Spread onto a shallow serving dish, about 1/2 inch thick.
  2. Spread a layer of guacamole over the cream cheese mixture, followed by a layer of salsa, then the lettuce and vegan cheese. Sprinkle the olives and green onions over the top.
  3. Chill before serving.

HONEYDEW-PEACH SALSA

Ingredients:

  • juice of 1 lime
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ to ½ cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 Red Fresno and 1 Hot Yellow minced chile (seeds removed)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar,
  • ½ ripe sweet honeydew melon, cubed into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 small, ripe peaches, peeled and cubed into bite-sized pieces
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh coriander, or coriander and mint combined

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl blend the lime juice, garlic, onion and chilies.
  2. Let stand 20 minutes, then blend in sugar and fruits with salt (a generous pinch) and pepper (to make piquant) to taste.
  3. Refrigerate up to 3 hours. Fold in fresh herbs just before serving.

TAHITIAN ALMOND DIPPING SAUCE

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups almond butter
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice (you may want to add more juice or add some water, depending on the consistency you like).
  • 1 ½ tablespoons agave syrup or honey

Directions:

  1. Blend all ingredients together until smooth (in your blender or food processor).
  2. Serve with your favorite crackers and fresh fruit.
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