Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daring Bakers -- Lavash Dough

Well, here it is, my first Daring Bakers challenge -- completed!  This month we all made vegan crackers using lavash dough.  You definitely don't miss the dairy/animal products in this recipe!  It was delicious, and I tried it several different ways.

The rules were simple: follow the recipe provided for the dough, making sure that you remain vegan, and make a dip of your choice, also being vegan.

I chose to make half of the crackers savory and half sweet.  The savory crackers were topped with pizza seasoning, fennel, or sea salt.  The sweet crackers were topped with cinnamon or cocoa powder.  For the dip I made a jalepeno hummus from which was delicious, but spicy!  Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the hummus, because I wasn't satisfied with any of the photographs that I took that pictured the hummus.  :(  I also cheated and paired the sweet crackers with some icing that was not vegan . . . but it was good!

But, an even better discovery -- I later made a new batch of this delicious dough, rolled it out a little less thin and used it as pizza crust!  It was amazing!  I topped it with home made marinara, mozzarella, turkey pepperoni, onions, and yellow bell peppers.  Awesomeness!

Here is the recipe:

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 in 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 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 sandwhich 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 salts, 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.

6  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).

7.  When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.  You can snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

First Iron Cupcake entry!!!

This month I participated in the Iron Cupcake Earth competition.  The challenge: incorporate basil into a cupcake.  Did I succeed?  I think so!  Basil is an ingredient that immediately makes me think of savory dishes, especially pasta.  So, I had to let my mind stretch a little to come up with a creative solution.  I think I may have eased myself into this competition by taking the easy way, paring citrus and basil.  After some back and forth about certain details of the cupcake, I decided on a strawberry pound cake with a lemon-basil curd filling topped with a lemon meringue frosting.  For garnish, I candied my own lemon peel and finished it off with a fresh basil leaf.  They were very good!  The basil was subtle, yet it added a nice complexity to the cupcake.  My perspective on the uses of basil is forever changed!

While this challenge is mostly for fun, it is a competition!  I could win the following AWESOME prizes:

HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, 

So, VOTE FOR ME by going to between September 28th and October 1st!

You can make these too!  Here's the recipe:

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sifted cake flour
3 cups sugar
7 large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh strawberries

Sift together sifted flour (3 cups) and salt into a bowl.  Repeat sifting into another bowl (flour will have been sifted 3 times total).

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes in a stand mixer.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla.  Reduce speed to low and add half of flour, then all of cream, then remaining flour, mixing well after each addition.  Scrape down side of bowl, then beat at medium-high speed 5 minutes.  Batter will become creamier and satiny.  Mix in fresh strawberries.

Spoon batter into cupcake liners.  Bake for 15-18 minutes in 350 F oven until golden and a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool in cupcake pan.

Curd Filling:

5 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
4 lemons, zested and juiced
1 stick butter, cut into pats and chilled
1-2 tablespoons fresh basil

Add enough water to medium saucepan to come to come about 1-inch up the side.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  meanwhile, combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium size metal bowl and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute.  Measure citrus juice and, if needed, add enough cold water to reach 1/3 cup.  Add juice, zest, and basil to egg mixture and whisk smooth.  Once water reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and place bowl on top of saucepan.  Whisk until thickened, approximately 8 minutes, or until mixture is light yellow and coats the back of a spoon.  Remove promptly from heat and stir in butter a piece at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next.  Remove to a clean container and cover by laying a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd.  Refrigerate.


1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Place sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler.  Beat with a handheld mixer for 1 minute.  Place pan over boiling water, being sure that the boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan.  Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes.  Beat in vanilla and lemon zest.


You can get in on the action too, by following my iron cupcake link to the right!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Fall cookies

Well, I thought I wasn't going to continue my cookie dough business until next year's season . . . but I have been encouraged and inspired.  I have been developing some "fall flavors" for my frozen cookie dough business "Half Baked" to replace the summer flavors (Lemon blueberry, orange chocolate shortbread, and lime coconut).  My first successful new flavor is a chewy chocolate peppermint cookie.  I am not sure what to name it as of yet, but I am open to suggestions!  Here is a photo of the baked version, though they are sold as frozen dough that is rolled in crushed peppermint.  They are delicious if I do say so myself!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Everyone's gotta start somewhere

For now, my blog is pretty blah.  Ok, it is very blah.  I started this blog after stumbling upon a few very interesting food-related challenges that all required a blog to join.  One of them is called "The Iron Cupcake" and the other is "The Daring Bakers' Blog".  I can't wait to begin the challenges and "spice" up my page so to speak!