September 27, 2008

Daring Bakers - Lavash Crackers & Toppings

It's time for the Daring Bakers again!

This month's challenge was presented by Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and co-host Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl. They wanted to have us make something savory so they chose Lavash Crackers from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice (pp 178 - 180). Please see their blogs for full recipes and directions.

I was excited to see this challenge because Lavash is a favorite treat served at a great restaurant down the road from me. It is one of the reasons my friend Kelly and I continue to go back. Yes, the rest of the food there is wonderful, but Kelly was right when he said that the crackers are the best part of the dinner. We have so much fun eating the crackers and 'dipping' them in the raspberry vinegar and oil they serve with it.

On to my story...I carefully chose a day when I had little else going on to bake the crackers. I wanted to put my full attention into the project because I knew this was a recipe I would want to make again often...especially for Kelly's birthday.

Well, things never work out exactly as planned. The windy remnants of Hurricane Ike hit Louisville on that chosen Sunday morning and by noon I had lost power. Most of the city lost power throughout the afternoon. The crackers didn't get made. On Tuesday when my power finally came back, I decided to make the crackers. I didn't have to work so there was plenty of time to bake and enjoy.

I pulled out the recipe and my ingredients and found that they didn't match. The recipe called for bread flour (I did not do gluten-free on my first go-around). I accidentally measured out whole wheat flour. Not wanting to admit a mistake even to myself, I bravely continued on with the recipe. I followed it exactly, except that my dough needed twice as much time to rest and rise.

I rolled out the dough until it was paper thin. Some of it I kept whole, planning to break it into pieces after baking. Some of the dough I cut with cookie cutters. I learned that mini flowers are not the best shape choice for these crackers. As I picked up each piece, the petals stretched and repositioned themselves until I couldn't tell some were supposed to be flowers. Not a problem, though, as I was more interested in the natural break-apart crackers ayway.

I ended up with 4 pans of cracker dough. Two pans were paper thin and baked for 12 minutes. They both turned out dark brown and much crispier than I would choose. I made the dough in the second two pans slightly thicker and baked them for only 8 minutes before turning on my eagle eye to watch for doneness. These crackers turned out much better--a perfect golden brown. Half of the crackers were sprinkled with sesame seeds (I have no idea why) and half were sprinkled with sea salt (my favorite).

I chose to make guacamole for my dip. Guacamole is my favorite dip and I order it whenever I can. Because of the price of avacados these days, I rarely make it for myself, but today was an exception--great crackers call for great dip. I can't give an exact recipe because I generally throw things in a bowl until it 'feels right,' but I used 2 ripe (soft but not mushy) avacados, 1 Roma tomato, a slice of white onion, lemon juice, 1 habanero pepper, and salt. Everything was diced and mixed, then chilled for a few minutes while I broke the crackers apart.

I need to make these crackers again, but doubt I will get to it before posting day. I want to make them with bread flour like the recipe calls for. My crackers tasted wonderful, but whole wheat is not the same as a finely milled flour and I want to see if I can get my lavash to be even more similar to the kind at our favorite restaurant. I also want to try other spices on top. The sea salt was great with the guacamole, but there are so many spices, seeds, and salts that would be good. Finally, I want to try the gluten-free option given in the challenge. There just isn't enough time in the day (or the month) to do everything. It's good that I have a running to-do list...this is on it again!
September 02, 2008

TWD: Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

These cookies are great! Thanks to Stefany of Proceed with Caution for choosing these yummy cookies.

I need to finish this post but there's not much to say. The recipe for Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters can be found on page 73 of Dorie's cookbook or at Stephany's blog.

I took most of these cookies to school. When I bring treats, I usually put them in the lounge when I get to school and they are often gone by the time I get back to the lounge before picking up my students. This time I got smart--I took them to the lounge when I went down for lunch. Everyone there at that time took a few and commented that these were the best cookies yet. I agree. Chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter, and oatmeal all together in one package. YUM!