Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Late Lavash Crackers....

So this month has gone by way too fast. I haven't even done my birthday post yet! I have been excited to make these Lavash crackers all month for the Daring Bakers but I knew I would be cutting it close to the dead line. However, little did I know that the deadline already had past! I was thinking the whole time the deadline was the 30th, but I was very wrong, it was the 27th so forgive me Daring Bakers but I did complete the challenge! I was in a hurry to complete them when i found out I was already two days late so I didn't do anything exciting to the recipe to jazz it up. And for the dip, I created my own vegan bean dip with black beans, garlic, lemon juice, cilantro, and a touch of cinnamon. It was actually very good considering the hurry I was in to get it done. And pardon the absence of step by step pics, again, too big of a hurry to take the time! But here is the recipe if anyone wants to try these yummy and very easy crackers out, and make sure to see how the other Daring Bakers did on this challenge here!

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers
(I made the non gluten free version)

* 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 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 discription 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.


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 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.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Baking for the Blues....

Yesterday I went to get my hair done and was excited to get an all over color to match my natural hair color. Well...it turned out a little darker-ok- alot darker than I had planned! I cried all last night about it and for a while this morning when I decided to whip myself into shape and get over it. I decided to bake something because nothing cures the blues for me like baking. I have been wanting to make Parisian macarons for a while and rummaged through my cuboards hoping I had the right ingredients. I luckily did and let me tell ya baking these cute little macaroons almost made me not hate my hair! (notice I said almost.)

They weren't as hard as I thought they were going to be. Actually, they were quite simple. They didn't turn out as good as they could have but I made them in a hurry and instead of using a piping bag with a tip I used a zip lock bag which made them a little uneven. I am going to have to keep my hair for 2 months until I get it done again, so, I decided in the mean time I will be doing alot of baking (more than usual) and I will practice these babies until I get them perfect! Heres the recipe for anyone wanting to take a whack at it.

Chocolate Macarons

Macaron Batter
1 cup (100 gr) powdered sugar
½ cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces , 50 gr, sliced almonds, pulverized)
3 tablespoons (25 gr) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tablespoons (65 gr) granulated sugar

Chocolate Filling
½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
4 ounces (120 gr) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15 gr) butter, cut into small pieces

Chocolate Almond Buttercream

(this is the filling I used because I didn't have any heavy cream)

1/4 c. (2 oz) almonds
1 2/3 c. confectioners' sugar
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened

Grind the nuts and confectioners' sugar in the food processor. Cream the butter and add the nut dust. Sandwich the macaroons together with the pistachio buttercream.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready.

Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor since almond meal that you buy isn't quite fine enough.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.

Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you're alone).

Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.

Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the countertop to flatten the macarons, then bake them for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.

To make the chocolate filling:

Heat the cream in a small saucepan with the corn syrup. When the cream just begins to boil at the edges, remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let sit one minute, then stir until smooth. Stir in the pieces of butter. Let cool completely before using.


Spread a bit of batter on the inside of the macarons then sandwich them together. (You can pipe the filling it, but I prefer to spread it by hand; it's more fun, I think.)
I also tend to overfill them so you may or may not use all the filling.

Let them stand at least one day before serving, to meld the flavors.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or freeze. If you freeze them, defrost them in the unopened container, to avoid condensation which will make the macarons soggy.