Say you have been invited to a friend's house for a dinner party. You ask what you can bring, and your friend tells you that she is making her killer homemade hummus and baba ghannouj mezze. She asks you to bring some "lavash, you know, those insanely good crackers we had at that Middle Eastern place?" to serve with them. You're relieved that you don't have to make a cheesecake or something this time, so you happily agree. Until you get to the market and realize what a problem you now have.
The only lavash your market carries is the soft, wrap-style lavash. How can this be? you think. This is absurd. Everyone knows that lavash (or lavosh or even lahvosh) is a cracker ~ a crisp, crunchy flatbread-type cracker. What's up with this floppy, tortilla-like object? Well, turns out that's lavash too.
Lavash, you see, has an alias. Mmm-hmm. It's aka Armenian cracker bread. I know exactly what you're thinking because I was thinking it too: That's a contradiction in terms, right? Well, maybe. Or maybe not. See, if you take a piece of soft lavash and dry it in a slow oven ~ voila! ~ you have a cracker.
But it's a little trickier still. Armenian-style dry lavash is cracker-y to begin with. And typically covered with at least 2 types of seeds. This is what you want to dip into your hummus and baba ghannouj.
So . . . you can go back to the market and confidently request dry lavash . . . or you can make it yourself. And I highly recommend the latter. Why? Because it's likely to be a good deal tastier and considerably cheaper than anything you can buy, it's a snap to make, and it'll be pretty impressive when you show up with homemade crackers. But by all means, feel free to buy them ~ if, you know, you don't want to steal your friend's thunder. It's her dinner party, after all.
Armenian-Style Dry Lavash
*I adapted this recipe from one I found on the KAF Web site.
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached preferred)
• 1 cup whole wheat flour
• 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon instant yeast
• 1 teaspoon sea salt
• 2 tablespoons wheat germ
• 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
• 3/4 cup water plus more if needed
• 2 tablespoons olive oil*
• 1 cup mixed seeds (e.g., sunflower, flax, poppy, white and black sesame) for topping
1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add water and oil*. Mix, and knead until dough is smooth, adding additional water 1 tablespoon at a time if dough is too dry.
2. Place the dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm, draft-free place, for about an hour, until it’s risen a bit.
3. Divide the dough in half. Wrap one half in plastic and set aside while working with the first half. Roll out the first half to a thickness of 1/8 inch. As you roll, sprinkle with topping seed mix. Turn the dough over periodically and sprinkle with seeds, pressing them into the dough with a rolling pin as you roll the dough to the correct thickness. If the dough springs back as you’re rolling it out, cover it with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 10 minutes, then continue rolling. Repeat with second piece of dough.
baking sheets with parchment. Place each sheet of rolled out dough on a parchment-lined sheet pan and prick with a fork. Cut each sheet of dough into strips or diamonds with a pizza cutter. Let the dough rise for 20 minutes and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- The thinner you roll these out, the better they will be. If you find the dough is shrinking back when you roll it, cover it with a clean dish towel and let it rest for 10 minute intervals. This will allow the gluten to relax and you'll have an easier time rolling out the dough to the right thinness.
- If you prefer, you can just break the baked cracker into pieces instead of cutting it. Just bake it in one large sheet ~ don't forget to prick it everywhere with a fork before baking.
- *Please note that the original recipe did not include oil, and they're just fine without it. The end result sans oil is rustic and crunchy and every bit as delicious. I've made these a few times now both with and without oil, and I'm finding that I prefer the addition of a couple of tablespoons of oil. The crackers are just slightly more crisp than crunchy, but still sturdy enough to bear up under whatever dip you want to foist on them.