Lemon & Almond Tuiles {ModBak}

The next recipe in the Cookies, Bars & Biscotti section of the Modern Baker Challenge is a classic French cookie with a bit of classic French fussiness to it. In case you’re wondering, tuile is pronounced “tweel” (rhymes with “feel”).

Or in my case, rhymes with “fail”.

I love my Roul’Pat for so many things. Nothing sticks to it. It’s reusable and prevents wasting parchment paper. It keeps pans clean and wipes right off.

Unfortunately, it also keeps tuiles from spreading when they bake.

The tuiles are supposed to spread paper-thin in the oven. Then when you take them out, you drape them over a cylindrical form so they take on a Pringle-like shape.

As you can see, my tuiles didn’t spread. At all.

So, what did I do with this colossal tuile failure?

I told my family they were lemon almond cookies. And they loved them.

I might try these again someday, this time on buttered parchment instead of Roul’Pat. Although to be honest, the thought of shaping all those cookies when they come of the oven doesn’t thrill me. And my family was right — they tasted fine the way they were.

Mustard Bâtons {AMFT}

The recipe on page 15 of Around My French Table for Mustard Batons was one of the first recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s new book that caught my eye. It’s a very simple recipe: puff pastry and Dijon mustard are the main ingredients. It looked like a recipe that could be thrown together and in the oven in less than 10 minutes, making it perfect for a quick appetizer or a simple weeknight snack.

Dorie’s recipe calls for frozen puff pastry. However, as noted in a previous post, I had been wanting to try Nick Malgieri‘s Instant Puff Pastry recipe, and this seemed like a good reason to give it a go. You can read about my puff pastry making adventure here. Suffice it to say, if you are still buying frozen puff pastry, you really should give making it a try. You won’t believe how easy it is, and how great the results are.

With my puff pastry in the refrigerator, and a strong Dijon mustard in the cupboard, I was ready to put together some Mustard Bâtons.

I began by setting the chilled puff pastry on a lightly floured board, then hitting it with a French rolling pin to soften it and begin flattening it out a bit. I then rolled the pastry, giving it several 90° turns and flipping it over from time to time, until I had a 12 x 16 rectangle.

I turned the dough so one of the short sides was toward me, then spread the lower half with Dijon mustard.

After folding down the top half of the dough, I pressed it lightly to seal it. Then I used my pastry wheel to cut the dough into one-inch strips.

After I put the strips on the pan, I brushed them with egg, then sprinkled them with poppy seeds. The bâtons baked in a 400° oven for about 15 minutes, until they were puffed and golden brown. The house smelled so good while the bâtons were baking. The puff pastry smelled rich and buttery, and the Dijon had a pleasant pungent aroma.

I allowed the bâtons to cool for a few minutes before digging into them. They tasted as good as they smelled. My wife found the Dijon a bit too strong, but I really enjoyed the sharp edge of the mustard combined with the flaky puff pastry.

This is another recipe to make again and again. Dorie suggests making them ahead and freezing them before baking, but they are so quick and easy to throw together (especially with homemade puff pastry in the freezer), that I think I will normally make and bake them on the same day.

Double Chocolate Mousse Cake {FFwD}

This week’s pick for French Fridays with Dorie seemed like a solid choice. Who doesn’t love chocolate? And baked mousse cake couldn’t be all bad, could it?

I will admit that the recipe seemed a little daunting. Although the ingredients list is short — bittersweet chocolate, espresso/coffee, butter, sugar, salt, and eggs — there are four variations suggested in the recipe. And whichever one you make, there are multiple steps, including mixing, baking, cooling, baking again (or not), more chilling, etc. It wasn’t that any of the instructions seemed particularly difficult. For me it was the fact that all of the options are given throughout the recipe. So rather than following the recipe straight through, you have to jump here or there depending on which variation you’re making. It reminded me of those choose your own adventure books from when I was a kid, but not nearly as much fun.

I decided to make the twice baked version, in which about 1/3 of the mousse is spread in the pan, baked for about 15 minutes, then cooled. Then the rest of the mousse is dumped in, and the whole thing is baked for about half an hour.

Sounds easy enough, right? And perhaps it is. But apparently not for me. My first issue started with the pan. Dorie says to use the ring from an 8-inch springform (not the bottom). I remember thinking two things when I first read this part of the recipe. First, I don’t have an 8-inch springform. My spingform pan is 9 inches, which I didn’t think should be too big a problem, although the thought did occur to me to increase the amount of mousse a bit, an idea that I completely forgot about when it came time to actually make the recipe.

The other thing that occurred to me when I read about using the springform ring and placing it on a Silpat or parchment paper was: Won’t it leak? But if Dorie said it was OK, I would believe her. So I made the mousse, preheated the oven, buttered my ring, put it on a Silpat on a pan, loaded in the mousse, and put the whole thing in the oven. And here’s what I ended up with:

I’m too embarrassed to show you a picture of the bottom of my oven. Suffice it to say the smoke detector went off every time I opened the oven door for the rest of the day.

I cooled what was left of the crust, then topped it with the remaining mousse.

I baked the cake for about 20 minutes, at which point it seemed to be done. I figured since it was spread more thinly in the pan than the recipe envisioned, it would bake more quickly, and it did. I cooled it in the pan for a few minutes, then unmolded it. I didn’t even try to get it off the Silpat, as we were just snacking on it at home, and I’d had enough disasters for one day.

If you have Around My French Table you know that Dorie’s cake is pretty thin. But not nearly as thin as mine. The combination of the too-big pan and losing a good bit of batter from the bottom of the ring left me with a wafer-thin cake that even Mr. Creosote could have finished without exploding.

After all the trouble I had with this cake, I figured it better be pretty good. And you know what? It was. In fact, it was absolutely delicious. I was skeptical about the layers, thinking that since they were made from the same mousse, they couldn’t be all that different. But each had its own distinct flavor and texture. The cake was rich, moist, and very chocolatey. The coffee really brought out the chocolate flavor.

When I bake this cake again, I will make a few alterations to the recipe. First, I will use the entire springform pan. This business of using just the ring doesn’t make sense to me. Why not use the whole pan and remove the cake when it’s baked? And since I will be using my 9-inch springform pan again, I will double the mousse filling, which should result in a cake that’s a bit thicker than the one in the book. Which to me sounds perfect.

Virtual Cookie Exchange — Cranberry Pumpkin Biscotti & Gingerbread Biscotti {Recipe}

 

OK, I have a confession to make. I have been slow, make that very slow, to get into the holiday spirit this year. Maybe it’s because we’ve all been sick around here. Maybe it’s the thought of gearing up for another tax season. Maybe it’s the weather. But whatever the reason (his heart, or his shoes), I’ve been a bit of a Grinch so far this Christmas. In fact, if it weren’t for the kids, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have bothered putting up the tree.

But put up the tree we did. And about the time I was starting to get into the spirit — adorning the house with all of the Christmas decorations, old and new, and listening to Christmas music on the radio — I got an e-mail from Di over at Di’s Kitchen Notebook inviting me to participate in a Virtual Cookie Exchange. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about cooking and baking bloggers, it’s that they’re a sociable and creative lot. So even though I had no idea what a “virtual” cookie exchange was, I knew it would be fun.

The set up was simple: we would all pick a cookie recipe — a family favorite, something we’ve been wanting to try, or even a new recipe we’re working on — bake it, snap some pictures, and post the recipe on our blogs on the same date (December 13). I signed up right away, even though I had no idea what I would bake.

As it turns out, I decided to make two recipes, one that I had made before and another one that I have had in mind for a while but haven’t tried to make yet. And to make it even more fun,  a bunch of the people in the cookie exchange decided to Twitterbake our cookies together the other day. So, with one recipe in hand and the other in mind, I hit the kitchen at the designated time and started baking.

The first recipe I made was the one I was inventing — Cranberry Pumpkin Biscotti. I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted to make them, so I started with a rough outline of a recipe and took notes as I put it together. They came out really well. This is a recipe I’m happy to share, and one I will be making for years to come.

Cranberry Pumpkin Biscotti

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup solid-pack canned pumpkin
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup whole fresh cranberries
3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
 

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2.  Mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and spice in a large bowl and set aside.

3.  Put eggs in bowl of electric mixer.  Beat at medium speed until lemony in color, about one minute.  Add pumpkin, butter, and vanilla and mix on low speed to combine.

4.  Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture in three additions, mixing well on low speed after each addition.  Add cranberries and pecans.  Stir into dough with mixer or by hand.

5.  Place dough on a lightly floured surface.  Lightly flour your hands.  Shape the dough into a log.  Divide log into two pieces with a bench scraper and roll each piece into a log about 15 x 2 inches.   Place the logs on the prepared baking sheet a few inches apart.  Flatten the logs so the tops are even.

6.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until tops are golden brown and firm to the touch.  (It’s OK if they seem a little underbaked at this point.  In fact, it’s better to underbake them then overbake or they will crumble when you cut them.)  Remove from oven and place logs on a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes.

7.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

8.  After the logs have cooled, transfer each to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices.  Don’t push down as you cut; let the knife do the work.  Place the slices cut side down on a baking sheet.

9.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until biscotti are dry.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Yield: about 3 dozen biscotti

Shaped and flattened logs

 

After first bake

Sliced and ready for second bake

Et voila!

The second recipe I made was one I have made before. I don’t remember where I got the original recipe (online somewhere), but I’ve tinkered with it enough to call it my own.

Gingerbread Biscotti

Gingerbread Biscotti

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup molasses
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole raw almonds

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2.  In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.  Set aside.

3.  Measure the butter and molasses into the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until light, about one minute.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  The batter may appear separated at this point. That’s fine. It will come together as soon as the flour is added. 

4.  Mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture on low speed in three additions, mixing well after each addition.  Gently stir in the almonds with mixer or spoon.

5.  Place dough on a lightly floured surface.  Lightly flour your hands.  Shape the dough into a log.  Divide log into two pieces and roll each piece into a log about 15 x 2 inches.   Place the logs on the prepared baking sheet a few inches apart.  Flatten the logs so the tops are even.

6.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until tops are firm to the touch. Remove from oven and place logs on a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes.

7.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.

8.  After the logs have cooled, transfer each to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices.  Place the slices cut side down on a baking sheet.

9.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until biscotti are dry.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Yield: about 3 dozen biscotti

Tip:  After adding butter to mixer bowl, use butter wrapper to grease measuring cup so molasses will release from cup without sticking.

Check out the roundup over at Di’s site to see what everyone else is baking. And if you try the biscotti, let me know what you think.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Pita Bread {ModBak}

Pita bread is the third recipe in the Breads section of the Modern Baker Challenge. This is another flatbread and one that I was really looking forward to making. After all, who doesn’t love soft, puffy pitas? And the thought of them pillowing in my oven had me fairly quivering with excitement.

So, let’s just get this out of the way. My first time attempt at pita bread was an epic disaster. The dough was really wet, so when I went to roll out the individual pitas, I knew there was a danger of them sticking together. The logical thing to do, as any beginning home baker could tell you, would have been to flour the dough before rolling it out. But did I do that? No.

I rolled the dough on my Roul ‘Pat, so I knew it wouldn’t stick. But as I finished each pita, I had to stack them somewhere. Again, logic and even basic experience would have told me to flour them. Instead, I stacked them between layers of wax paper. By the time I had finished rolling them all out, they were glued to the wax paper, and nothing was going to get them unstuck.

The last two pitas were still on the Roul ‘Pat, so I decided to go ahead and bake them. I floured my peel, gently placed the dough on it, and slid the pitas into the oven, whereupon both of them folded over coming off the peel. So, for my first attempt at pitas, this is what I ended up with:

Frustrated and slightly humbled, I was nonetheless undeterred. And so the next day, I made pita bread again. The dough is mixed in the food processor and comes together really quickly, even with a 10-minute autolyse. Once the mixing is finished, the dough is set aside to rest for an hour before rolling out the pitas.

As mentioned above, the dough is really wet. Although NM doesn’t mention how slack it should be, I got the impression from the recipe that is was supposed to be that way. Several times in the recipe, he says to scrape the dough from the bowl, which leads me to think it’s supposed to be wet and somewhat sticky.

After fermenting the dough, I turned it out onto my bench (floured this time), divided the dough into 12 pieces, and rounded each piece into a ball.

While the dough rested for 15 minutes, I got the oven ready to bake by putting my baking tiles in place and preheating the oven to 500° F. Pitas bake very quickly in a hot oven, so it’s important to preheat the oven for at least half an hour (45 minutes is better) so that your stone is really hot.

I rolled each dough ball out to about seven inches in diameter, moving my rolling pin in every direction to try to get the pitas as round as possible.

The dough is supposed to rest for 15 minutes after rolling, and I planned to bake three pitas at a time, so I started my timer after I had rolled the third dough ball. That way, I could start baking as soon as the first three pitas had rested for the correct amount of time. Sufficient flour on both the dough and the peel guaranteed that there would not be a repeat of my first disaster.

I loaded the first three pitas in the oven, closed the door, and held my breath. Would then puff up like they were supposed to? I needn’t have worried, because within a minute or two, they looked like this:

I baked them for four-and-a-half minutes each, until they were puffy and slightly browned.

OK, so they didn’t stick. And they looked and smelled great. But how did they taste? I can honestly say these pitas were as good as any I have ever eaten. So much so that I made them again the next day. And I already have a request from my wife to make more.

When I baked them for the third time, I hit on something that really helped. When I loaded the pitas onto the baking stone, instead of putting them directly on the peel, I put them on parchment paper, which I had placed on the peel. The pitas slid right off the peel, and the parchment didn’t interfere with the heat from the baking stone. I alternated between two pieces of parchment, and they held up through the baking process.

If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at making pita bread, give this recipe a try. It comes together quickly, is really easy, and makes some of the best pitas you can imagine.

Ginger Scones with Almond Topping {ModBak}

Ginger Scones with Almond Topping is another simple and delicious recipe from the Quick Breads section of The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri. These scones came together quickly and baked up in only 15 minutes.

The only ingredient that I didn’t already have in the cupboard was crystallized ginger. Nick warns against using grocery store ginger, as it tends to be dry and hard, whereas good candied ginger should be moist and tender. I was going to order ginger from King Arthur Flour, as their crystallized ginger receives rave reviews. However, I didn’t have anything else that I needed to order, and I didn’t want to wait for a shipment to get the ginger.

So, I went to the grocery store to buy candied ginger from the baking section. Sure, it was dry and rattled around in the jar. But I was impatient, so I bought it anyway. When I got home, I realized that the jar of crystallized ginger contained only two ounces, whereas the recipe called for four ounces. Again lacking in patience, I decided to forge ahead with what I had. I adjusted the recipe by adding just a bit more ground ginger.

As noted, the recipe came together quickly. I put the dry ingredients in the food processor, pulsed them a few times, added the cold butter, and pulsed again to mix everything together. Then I added the crystallized ginger, milk, and eggs and pulsed until the dough came together.

I dumped the dough out onto a Silpat, kneaded it a few times, then divided it into three pieces. After pressing each piece of dough into a disk, I cut each one into six wedges with a dough scraper. I placed the scones on a baking sheet, and topped each wedge with a mixture of egg white, almonds, cinnamon, and sugar.

I baked the scones at 400° F for about 15 minutes, until they were golden brown and firm to the touch.

Fortunately, Nick recommends eating these scones hot from the oven, because there is no chance I was going to let them cool. They were sweet, but not overpoweringly so, and were wonderful both plain and with a little smear of butter.

Pecorino & Pepper Biscuits {ModBak}

The seventh recipe in the Modern Baker Challenge (and the second quick bread I agreed to post) is Pecorino & Pepper Biscuits. I love biscuits, and I love savory recipes with cheese and pepper, so I was looking forward to trying this recipe. But I was a little nervous, too. I’ve never had huge success with biscuits, pie crusts, or other things that are supposed to come out light and flaky. But as I’ve noted elsewhere, taking on recipes I have never tried or never made successfully was a big part of my motivation in taking on this challenge.

Although I’ve been baking the quick breads in order, I decided to skip ahead a few pages to make these biscuits for dinner this evening. This recipe has only seven ingredients, all of which I had on hand: Pecorino Romano cheese, AP flour, baking soda, salt, black pepper, unsalted butter, and buttermilk (I used dry buttermilk powder, which I keep in the cupboard all the time). Most of these are staple ingredients in my kitchen. I don’t always have Pecorino Romano on hand, but I happened to have some left over from when I made the Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche for the BBA Challenge.

As with the other quick breads, these biscuits came together really fast. I mixed the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and buttermilk powder in a bowl. I pulsed the cheese and butter in the food processor a few times, added the flour mixture, pulsed it a few more times, then finally added the water and pulsed until the dough came together.

I dumped the dough out onto a Silpat with a little flour on it, kneaded it a few times, and pressed it out to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. I cut the dough into 2 1/4-inch circles, which I put on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. One trick I learned from this recipe is that when you cut biscuits, you should press straight down. If you twist your cutter — as I always have in the past — the biscuits won’t have nice straight sides.

I baked the biscuits for 20 minutes (I think they should have come out at about 18 minutes) and served them with butter for dinner, along with oven baked chicken and green beans.

These biscuits were a bit hit. They were light, flaky and oh-so-flavorful. I wasn’t sure if the kids would like the strong flavor of the Pecorino and the bite of the pepper, but they gobbled them up.

These biscuits took about 30 minutes from pantry to table, so they are easy enough to make anytime. And Nick Malgieri offers four variations, making this a great go-to recipe you can (and will want to) make often to go with dinner.

Fruitcake Biscotti

I was looking for something original to take for this year’s cookie exchange at work. A friend of mine suggested biscotti, which reminded me of the pumpkin and gingerbread biscotti recipes I made a while back and took into work. Granted, people will eat nearly anything you take to the office; but these really were a big hit.

So, I would make biscotti for the cookie exchange. But I needed something original and holiday-oriented. Then I got to thinking: does anything say Christmas more than fruitcake? I did a Google search for “fruitcake biscotti”, and I found some recipes. But nothing that really impressed me. So I decided to invent my own recipe.

I had a few goals in mind. I knew I wanted to use candied citrus peel, dried mixed fruit, and fiori di sicilia. And bourbon. (I know rum would have been more traditional, but I’m partial to bourbon.) Finally, and most importantly, I wanted it to have the essence of fruitcake but not to taste like a dried-out fruitcake. In fact, I hesitated to use the word “fruitcake”, as so many people have negative associations with it. In the end, I stuck with the name, because it was descriptive and, I hoped, might change some opinions about this wonderful holiday treat.

And I think I got it right. Try it out and let me know what you think.

Fruitcake Biscotti

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried mixed fruit
  • 1/2 cup candied mixed citrus peel
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 2/3 cup raw whole almonds
  •  1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon fiori di sicilia
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Put fruit and citrus peel in small bowl. Add bourbon and soak for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Toast almonds in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, shaking pan often, until lightly toasted, about 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool, then coarsely chop almonds.
  4. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed in electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add fiori di sicilia and almond extract and mix well.
  5. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to butter mixture, and beat well. Add fruit and almonds and mix well.
  6. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half and roll/pat each half into a log, the length of a cookie sheet and about 2-inches in diameter.
  7. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Place both dough logs on the baking sheet and flatten slightly.                                                    
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until baked through and lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack until cool enough to handle.                                                    
  9. Slice each log on the diagonal into 1/2-inch thick slices. Use a good, serrated bread knife, and allow the knife to do the cutting.
  10. Place the slices on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 325 for 10 minutes. Turn slices over and bake for another 10 minutes.
  11. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Yield: about 3 dozen biscotti

These go great with a cup of coffee or hot cocoa. The fruit is delicious without being overpowering. Same with the bourbon. And the almonds give it a nice crunch.

Crack(er)ing the Mystery of Lavash

A few months ago, I made crackers; or, rather, I tried to make crackers. What I made was a crumbly mess. I didn’t even bother trying to bake them.  So, when it came time to make the Lavash Crackers for the BBA Challenge, I was a little nervous. All the more so because my cracker fail was with a different Peter Reinhart recipe.

Although I guess I must not have been too nervous, as I decided to make two batches of crackers — one with yeast and the other sourdough. I figured I’d mix the dough according to the recipe in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and then try my hand at sourdough crackers. That way, I’d have an idea what the dough should look and feel like.

I gathered my ingredients and started mixing.

Lavash Cracker Ingredients

If you make these crackers, you’ll notice that the recipe calls for honey and oil (in that order). If you weigh your ingredients (and you should), I recommend that you to measure your oil first, then use the same bowl to measure the honey. The oil remaining in the bowl with keep the honey from sticking.

PR points out that this is a very stiff dough, somewhere between French bread and bagel dough, and he recommends kneading it by hand. I took him at his word, and kneaded the dough for 10 minutes.

Kneading Lavash Crackers

As you can see, it was a rather small lump of dough, so even though it was pretty stiff, it wasn’t much of a chore to knead. I had added all but about an ounce of the water called for in the recipe to get the dough to come together, and I found I had to add a bit of flour to get the it to the correct consistency — stiff, supple and not at all tacky. I got a nice window pane at the end of 10 minutes of kneading, and set the dough aside to ferment.

After about 90 minutes, I rolled out the dough. I found that I didn’t have to stop and rest it, as PR said I might. Rather, the dough rolled out beautifully with almost no pull-back. I had decided to bake the crackers on my Silpat, so I rolled the dough out to the edges, which made it somewhat larger than the recipe called for. But I figured, the thinner the better for crackers.

Rolling Lavash Crackers

I topped the dough with alternating rows of sesame and poppy seeds, and sprinkled Diamond Crystal kosher salt over the whole thing.

Lavash Crackers with poppy & sesame

Then I cut the edges into a nice rectangle, and cut the crackers into diamonds.

Lavash Crackers Cut

While the Lavash dough was fermenting, I mixed up the dough for my sourdough crackers. I had just fed Adrian the night before, and I measured out 5 ounces into my mixing bowl. Since I keep my starter at 100% hydration, I cut back the flour and water in the recipe by 2 1/2 ounces each. And of course I omitted the yeast. I had to use almost all of the water to get the dough to come together, and again added quite a bit of flour during kneading. And I had to knead a few extra minutes to achieve a window pane.

The sourdough didn’t rise much during the bulk ferment, and I let them go a bit longer than the straight dough. But the dough still rolled out nicely and easily stretched to cover my Silpat.

I decided to top the sourdough crackers with pumpkin and sunflower seeds  and Maldon smoked sea salt. (Aside: if you haven’t tried smoked sea salt yet, do yourself a favor and sneak a box into your shopping bag or your next King Arthur order.)

Sourdough Lavash with pumpkin & sunflower

PR notes that you can cut the dough into crackers before you bake it or bake it whole and break it into pieces for a more rustic look. I decided not to cut the sourdough crackers. I don’t know if it was the difference in the dough or if I had underfermented the sourdough and so ended up with monster oven spring, but whatever the cause, my sourdough crackers blew up like a giant pita.

Baked Lavash Crackers

Both batches were delicious and have helped me overcome my fear of homemade crackers. The sourdough version may not be much to look at, but I think the combination of the seeds, sourdough and smoked salt gave these crackers the clear edge in the taste department.

Chalk up another great recipe for Peter Reinhart. And another baking challenge for me.