Lavash – An Easy Cracker to Make

Lavash

Lavash

Lavash is such an easy cracker to make I think if more people knew how, more people would make them.

So here goes my attempt to teach everyone how to make Lavash.

Here is another added bonus, this recipe also makes great pita bread! Just weigh the dough balls to 4 ounces and roll it to 1/4 inch think.

Bake them on a baking stone in a 500°F oven. (Yeah, that’s HOT!) Place the dough disks onto the baking stone, wait for them to poof and begin to brown. Remove them to a cooling rack to cool. Lovely pita!

Sometimes I’ll make two 4-ounce pita and roll the rest out into lavash. Sometimes it’s all lavash others, all pita. Either way , this is a great formula and it comes to you by way of Peter Reinhart’s book, The Bread Bakers Apprentice, which if you don’t have it, I highly recommend it. But only if you like to bake bread.

OK!

Back to Lavash!

  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup room temperature water
  • Spray bottle with water (hopefully you have one dedicated to baking!)

DSC_0021Some topping suggestions:

  • Sesame seeds, both white and black
  • Poppy seeds
  • Cumin and caraway seeds
  • Sweet and/or hot Paprika
  • Kosher salt
  • Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 7 seed mixtures

To make crackers:

Put all ingredients into a bowl of an electric mixer, add enough water to bring everything into a ball. You may only need 1/3 of a cup or you may need all the way up to 1/2 cup. If you need more than that, add it only 1 Tablespoon at a time.

Inf using an electric mixer to knead, knead the dough 6 minutes on medium speed. If kneading by hand, do it for 10 minutes.

The dough should be firm to the touch, satiny and not sticky.

Oil a bowl, roll the dough ball in the oil so it gets a light coating. Place the dough in the bowl and allow to rise for about 1 and 1/2 hours or until it has doubled in size.

If you don’t feel like finishing the crackers now, you can store the dough in the refrigerator overnight at this point.

If you want to make a couple of pita, weight out 2 4-ounce balls, give them an initial roll and set aside to rest.

Line the back side of a sheet pan with parchment paper. (The crackers get baked on the backside of the sheet pan.)

On a lightly oiled or floured surface, roll the dough into a paper-thin sheet. You may need to lift the dough to ensure it isn’t sticking to anything during this rolling process.

If, while rolling, the dough ‘fights’ you by shrinking back, cover it with a clean towel or piece of plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 5-10 minutes.

Place the thin dough onto the parchment lined sheet pan. Spray with water and sprinkle on the topping of your choice.

You can cut the dough into crackers or long strips using a pizza cutter before baking. Don’t worry about separating the crackers now, they will snap apart once cooled.DSC_0006

Bake the crackers in a preheated 350°F oven for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Freshly baked crackers are a real treat to share with anyone dropping by for a glass of wine and a few nibbles. Don’t be surprised if your Lavash crackers become a topic of interest!

How to Make a Paper Cone for Piping

Paper cones ready to use

Paper cones ready to use

Knowing how to make a paper cone for decorating can save you a lot of headaches if you have some decorating of pastries to do.

The paper cones can be filled with melted chocolate, various glazes and thinned icing for writing on cakes or drizzling pastries or creating piped designs.

Best of all, no tip is needed and when you are done, simply throw the cone away.

It takes a few practice units to get it right, but after you do, it’s like learning to ride a bicycle, you don’t really forget how.

Here’s how:

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Lay out a piece of parchment paper.

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Fold it so it forms a square. There may be an extra piece to cut off at one end.

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Remove the piece you don’t need. I find cutting with a sharp knife works best.

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Fold the square into a triangle and cut to make two triangles.

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With the triangle, you have the top tip and two points along the long edge. Bring one of the bottom points up to meet the top tip as shown.

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Close up, bring both points on the long edge up to this top tip.

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With all three points together, adjust the cone so the pointy tip is closed. You can adjust the opening by moving the points. Play with this to see how it works. You will need to know how this works later when piping.

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Using the tips, you can move them to adjust the size of the opening.

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Fold the edges to secure. (NO TAPE!) Folding, if done correctly, is all you need to hold these together. Practice!

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A finished paper cone

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Moving the points on the long edge up to the tip on the top of the triangle allows you to control the size of the opening.

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Paper cones ready to use!

 

Cinnamon Almond Pistachio Danish Ring

If you think “Cinnamon Almond Pistachio Danish Ring is a mouthful to say, Just wait until you taste it! When I made it, we were lucky to have an event to go to that evening. I sliced it, (ate one, well OK, two; one later though, not two at once ) and took it along to answer phones at the WTVI PBS fundraiser.

DSC_0001To make the dough, I used a yeast raised sweet dough from Peter Reinhart’s book The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. While this dough isn’t as rich as a brioche, it is much easier to handle.

To make the dough you will need:

  • 6 1/2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest, fine
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature (Do not exceed 100°F or it will kill the yeast)

Cream the sugar, salt and butter together using a paddle attachment, add eggs and lemon zest, whip until smooth.

Add the flour, yeast and milk, mix on low-speed until it forms a ball. Be sure to scrape down the bowl as you work, the dough may stick to the bowl, and there may be “forgotten” flour on the very bottom, scrape it all down and mix together.

Either using a dough hook or by hand, knead the dough until it is smooth and not tacky and sticky. If needed, you may need to use a bit of flour or water during this process.

Coat a bowl with a small bit of oil, place the kneaded dough into the bowl, make sure the dough ball is also covered with a light oil coating to prevent sticking. Cover the bowl with plastic and allow to double in size. Usually this can take up to 2 hours or more, depending upon the warmth of your kitchen.

If you oven has a proofing setting, use it. If you have a gas oven, the pilot light is often enough to maintain about 100°F. If you have an electric oven, turn your oven on the lowest setting for 5 minutes, turn it off and it should be good to go. Check it though as you do not want a hot oven, just slightly warm.

Risen dough about to hit the work bench

Risen dough about to hit the work bench

When the dough has doubled, transfer it to a lightly floured counter and roll it out into a rectangle as best you can.

Adding the cinnamon sugar gives you a couple of options. First you can spread soft butter over the dough and then sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the butter OR you can mix the cinnamon sugar with the butter to make a spread.

This is what I did for this roll.

Mix 1/2 cup of cinnamon sugar with 1/3 cup soft butter. Combine until the mixture is uniform. You can also decide to add additional flavors like ground ginger, cardamom or other ground warm spices.

Spread the cinnamon sugar mixture over the dough, leaving a slight edge for sealing the roll.

Roll into a log

Roll into a log

Starting with the long edge, roll the dough into a large, long log.

Bring the ends of the log together and form a ring.

Bring the ends together to form a ring

Bring the ends together to form a ring

Note: If you want to pre-cut the ring, do it before it rises.

Place the ring on a parchment lined sheet pan. Brush with egg wash and cover with a well oiled piece of plastic wrap.

Allow to double in size.

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F

Egg wash again and sprinkle the surface with sliced almonds and chopped pistachios and sanding sugar if desired.

Sprinkle the top with almonds and pistachios

Sprinkle the top with almonds and pistachios

Bake the ring in the 350°F oven for 30-45 minutes. The internal temperature of the very center of the thickest part of the ring needs to read at least 190°F or else you will end up with raw dough, which isn’t very pleasant.

If the ring is getting too brown before it is done, cover it with either tin foil or parchment.

Remove the baked ring from the oven, place on a rack and allow to cool. Once cool, make a vanilla glaze by combining confectioners sugar with vanilla extract and a bit of milk to drizzle consistency. Drizzle it over the ring, slice and serve.

This is fantastic with a nice cup or coffee or tea. I like to serve it with fresh berries on the side.

Serving the danish ring

Hamantashen! Shortbread and Jam Filled Cookies

Hammentashen

Hamentashen

Hamantashen are lovely cookies that can be a bit of a challenge to get the hang of making. These tasty morsels are made for the Jewish celebration of Purim. Since I’m not Jewish, I’ll not attempt to tell you the story, I’ll show how to make the cookies instead.

I have several Jewish friends so making these was fun and a nice surprise to give away.

Some basic notes, the cookies are cut out of circles that are folded into triangles to resemble hats. Who wore the hats, I’m not sure but they are part of the celebration.

Notice the direction say “folded” not pinched! For some odd reason if you pinch them, they open while baking; folded, they turn out perfect.

Here is what you need:

Hamantashen

  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4  teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 ounces butter at room temperature
  • (6 ounces or 1-1/2 sticks or 3/4 cup of butter)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla extract

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the soft butter and sugar with a paddle until incorporated, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until the mixture is smooth, add the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture a third at a time to the butter, sugar and egg mixture, process just until the mixture is combined. Don’t mix it a long time as gluten will develop resulting in a tough cookie rather than a tender one.

IMG_5201Divide the dough in half and roll it out on a lightly floured surface.

Cut 3-4 inch circle, brush with egg wash, add your filling and fold the circles into triangles.

Roll out the dough and cut circles (3 or 4 inches)

Roll out the dough and cut circles (3 or 4 inches)

Lay the disks on a parchment lined baking sheet and add the filling of your choice: Any fruit jam, peanut butter, chcolate chips, poppy filling, prune filling, raisin filling etc.

Lay the disks on a parchment lined baking sheet and add the filling of your choice: Any fruit jam, peanut butter, chocolate chips, poppy filling, prune filling, raisin filling etc.

 Egg wash the edges, Fold the circles into a triangle;  bake in a 400 F degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

Egg wash the edges, Fold the circles into a triangle; bake in a 400 F degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

It is important to note do not pinch the corners, FOLD them!

Egg wash the outsides of the triangles and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.

Cool and sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

Purim cookies

Folded edges

Folded edges

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Zucchini Brownies

Zucchini Brownies are a great way of adding vegetables to your families diet. Unless you tell them zucchini is in the mix, they simply won’t know. The secret here is to finely shred the zucchini so it ‘melts’ while baking. You can’t expect it to be undetectable if you put big chunks in the mix.

This is a great way to get some vegetables into your meat and potato family members.

This recipe follows the formula of replacing the fat in the recipe with vegetables. The shredded zucchini adds the required moisture that creates the most gooey, fudgy brownies; you won’t believe they are full of zucchini.

 

Zucchini Brownies

  • Servings: 9-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Zucchini BrowniesZucchini Brownies

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

Butter a 9 x 9 baking dish.

Combine sugars, egg and vanilla in a mixing bowl on medium speed.

Fold in zucchini.

Shred Zucchini

Shred Zucchini

Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

Add flour mixture to zucchini mixture on low-speed, mixing only long enough to combine the ingredients.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish, smoothing it evenly in the dish.

All mixed together with the Shredded Zucchini

All mixed together with the Shredded Zucchini

Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes. Remove the brownies from the oven and cool on a rack.

Cut and remove from pan after the brownies have cooled to room temperature.

Zucchini brownies