Chef Jonathan Perno of Los Poblanos recently taught a class on bread. My favorite recipe was for Lavash Crackers. It was revelation to make these from start to finish. Chef Perno writes his recipes for other professional cooks and sometimes his directions are, for home cooks, a little sketchy. But I found virtually the same recipe with more detailed instructions in Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. What follows is a combination of these two sources. These are fairly easy to make and they taste great. If your guests are anything like the students in this class, they will snarf these down in seconds.
(Makes one sheet pan of crackers)
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup water, at room temperature
- Poppy seeds,sesame seeds paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds or kosher salt for topping
Mix together the flour, salt, yeast, honey, oil and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.
Lightly flour the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. [If you are mixing in a stand mixer, mix for approximately 5 minutes on medium speed.] The dough should be firmer than French Bread dough, satiny to the touch, not tacky and supple enough to stretch when pulled. The dough should pass the stretch or windowpane test.*
Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover it with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 90 minutes. Or put in a covered container and store in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you need to to accommodate your pasta machine, divide the dough into sections. Roll out the dough, a section at a time, in a pasta machine until you have very thin sheets. Roll the dough in successively smaller numbers until you reach #2 on the dial of the pasta machine.
Rolling out the cracker dough with the pasta machine
When the dough is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment.Carefully lift the sheets of dough and lay them on the parchment.
If you want to pre-cut the crackers, use a pizza cutter and cut the dough into whatever shapes you desire. Diamonds or rectangles work well. Brush the dough with olive oil and season with salt and seeds. Remember that a little seasoning goes a long way.
Crackers pre-cut on the baking sheet.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top.
When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool on the pan for about 10 minutes. If you have not pre-cut the crackers, you can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.
Finished Lavash Crackers
*The Stress Test
The stress test is performed by cutting off a small piece of dough from the larger batch and gently stretching and turning it to see if it will hold a paper-thin, see-through membrane. If the dough falls apart before it makes this window pane, continue kneading it for another minute or two and test again.