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Posts Tagged ‘crispbread’

basket crackers

When I was growing up, these crispy crackers were called “lavosh” and featured in the bread baskets of fine dining restaurants throughout Sydney.  They’ve now been replaced with sourdough bread, but I think it’s time we  had a revival.  If crunch really does whet your appetite (as suggested on MasterChef last week), then crackers could well boost restaurant takings during these tough economic times.

I don’t think these are true lavosh, as the recipe has yeast in it (lavosh is traditionally unleavened), but they certainly remind me of good times in the 80s!

Crunchy Crackers

Adapted from Blue Ginger Cracker Dough by Ming Tsai

  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 teaspoons ground fennel
  • 20g fine sea salt
  • 15g dried yeast (or 2 sachets)
  • 1kg bread flour or pizza flour
  • 220g (1 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 625g (2½ cups) water
  • sesame seeds
  • 1 egg white

1. In a very large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and yeast.  Then whisk in the ground spices and salt.

2. Add the water and olive oil and mix with a spatula to create a wet sticky dough.  If necessary, use a clean hand to squelch everything together and make sure there are no dry bits remaining. Alternatively, you could try and make the whole thing in a mixer, which is what Ming Tsai does (my mixer couldn’t manage the six cups of flour).  Scrape your hand or spatula clean, and cover the dough with a tea towel and rest for 15 minutes.

3. Turn the dough onto an oiled bench and knead briefly until smooth.  It should work easily, as the large amount of oil makes this a very silky dough.  Try kneading with the slap and fold method rather than pummelling with the heel of your palm (which doesn’t work well with a wet dough).  Spray your scraped-out mixing bowl with oil, then turn the dough into it and cover with oiled clingfilm.  Allow to rest for an hour in a warm place, or until doubled in size.

4. Preheat oven to 175C (350F). Turn the risen dough onto an oiled bench and fold several times to knock the air out.  Divide the dough into four even portions and shape each one into a ball.    Pop each ball into an oiled container and cover, then allow to rest for a further hour (this further resting time enables you to stretch the dough very thinly later).  You could also just put each ball onto a large sheet of parchment paper, and cover with oiled clingfilm.  Make sure they’re not too close together, or they’ll prove into each other.  Preheat oven to 175C (350F).

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5. Tear off a sheet of parchment paper the size of your baking tray.  Turn a ball of dough onto your paper and gently ease it out.  Your aim is to get the dough as thin as possible.  Start by lifting and stretching the dough with your fingers, then roll it out even more thinly with a rolling pin.  When you think you’ve rolled it as thinly as you can, roll it a bit more.  Dust with a little flour if necessary, but don’t use more than you need, or the dough will stiffen up and lose its elasticity.  Note: I have very large baking trays (90cm) – if your trays are smaller, you might want to start with just half a ball of dough.  This recipe really does go a long way!

5. Brush the top of the flattened dough with beaten egg white, then sprinkle generously with sesame seeds and (optional) salt.  Cut the dough into large pieces.  I use a pizza cutter, but I have a granite bench – make sure you use something that isn’t going to destroy your work surface.

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6. Slide the dough and parchment onto a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through the cooking time.  Allow to cool on a wire rack, and EAT!

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