Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lavash Crackers with a side of Delicious-ness.

Although I have printed out many different cracker recipes in the past, I have never actually gone through what seemed like the arduous task of making them! This Daring Bakers Challenge forced me to get out my rolling pin and give the art of cracker-making a try. The result: surprisingly easy and tasty.

I rolled the dough as thinly as possible and tried not to worry about its unruly shape. After covering the surface with minced garlic, caraway seeds, poppy seeds, and sea salt, I popped it in the oven where they proceeded to take a life of their own, becoming unevenly browned and bubbly. I snapped the cooled sheets into large , rugged-looking pieces and dunked them into a giant bowl of Honeydew-Peach Salsa and proceeded to groan in satisfaction. Homemade crackers – who knew they could be this good?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Lavash Crackers and Topping

I looked so forward to this challenge, because I just so do love crackers. But I had never heard of Lavash Crackers before.

First I was unsure about the unbleached bread flour, but then I decided to make two batches of dough with type 1050 flour.
(For German flour type numbers see here.

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2008.09.27. Daring Bakers Lavash 1050 sweet 3

Following this recipe was pretty easy. I made sweet ones with cinnamon,sugar and almonds and salty ones with salt, dried garlic and dried italian herbs, salty and ones with salt and ones only with salt.

They all came out O.K. I was the only one who liked the sweet ones so I decided not to make any topping for them.

For the salty ones I made a tomato topping and an avocado topping and as special request of my boyfriend some shepherds topping which doesn't belong to this challenge because it isn't vegan.

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The tomato topping was to everybody's liking and eaten before I could take a photo. So there is only one photo of Lavash Crackers with avocado topping (and shepherds topping).

As for the crackers, my family was very unison in deciding that the crackers can really go without topping, too. I will make those crackers from time to time in the future.


I Swear I'm Vegan...

end result

…in my other life. By other life I mean the one that I live when my husband and son aren’t around. After all, one can’t make 2 separate meals all the time and stay sane. I grew up in a home that was almost vegetarian and I didn’t know that’s what we were. On a very rare occasion we had ground beef…..never straight though…it was always mixed with some ground seitan.

lavash dough

Ah….the memories…..anyway I made the Lavash crackers and they were perfect. I don’t think one could really mess that up. They have to be the best cracker I’ve ever made, so many different ways to make it shine. I used three different topping for the crackers. Cracked pepper, sesame seeds and poppy seeds. I admit I was out of control for this challenge and it took everything I had to reign in my visions of vegan deliciousness. This was my most favorite challenge so far and the bonus was that I got to use my favorite cookbook. I have come across many opinions about Mark Bittman and his books. Most people are neutral…don’t love him, don’t hate him. I on the other hand….LOVE him. His books are simplistic, yet tasty and so I totally have to give him a plug. I used his book “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” for my dips. I wanted to make everything in there, but I narrowed it down to three.

pineapple chutney

The first is a pineapple chutney. I’ve never had chutney and thought this would be a great one to try. It was fantastic. Next time I will add a little less red hot pepper flakes.

I then made a spinach artichoke dip. While it’s not your typical dip, it had some great flavor.

10 oz. of creamed spinach
1 jar of marinated artichokes
Smidge of minced garlic
¼ c of vegannaise
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients, put in dish and bake for 20 minutes till bubbly.

creamed spinach

I made the creamed spinach myself using almond milk and a roux of oil and flour. I think the almond milk added flavor that brought out the spinach. I had planned on using a dash of Worcestershire to add a sharpness that the parmesan adds in a traditional recipe, but I found I didn’t even need it.

mushroom pate

My last spread was a mushroom pate. I love mushrooms and this was a great combo of button and dried porcinis. I did choose to not totally macerate the pate….I like a little chewy with the cracker. Unfortunately I didn’t alter two of the recipes I used so I can’t post them, but I totally recommend Mark’s book.

Thanks Natalie and Shel for a great challenge. I love living in my vegan world!

- Amber

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I just Dare to be a Baker. For the first time.

Vegan? Gluten free? Never tried those before, so why not. First attempt was both successful and…not as the Lavash was ate before I even started with the dip. It’s such a great snack just as it is!! But than I got my little Help-er.


And we made it again. It was topped with nigella on one half and cumin seeds on the other (we got two sheets out of the recipe)


At the begining I was thinking of dozens of dips I could make for Lavash. Humus. Black olives Tapenade. Hot & Spicy salsa. Guacamole. Hot apple chutney. Sweet apple/cinnamon sauce. Even poppyseed dessert. But I could only make them after visiting store. And I was running out of time, as the Lavash was already on the table. So I made an eggplant/tomato/red pepper/onion/chili/olive kind of dip (i just used vegetables available-meaning: in my fridge). It was almost too late. But I managed to take a photo. One.


Definitely I’ll make it again. I just stopped believing in dips. Thanks Shel and Natalie for hosting. I look forward to October.

- Borgia

My first lavash experience

I need to start with a brief discussion of Belgian flour. I hope no-one takes offence, flour here is pretty bad. There are only a few types of flour available in supermarkets and normal food stores, and only some of them actually serve their stated purpose. Bread flour here (white bread flour) has hardly any gluten content at all (9% protein, can you believe it?), and comes ready-mixed with “bean flour”!!!! Perfectly useless for making edible bread (or anything else that is edible for that matter). Pastry flour is good for pastry and cakes, but again, not for bread. Real bread flour can be obtained at specialist stores (e.g. as a British import), but the nearest outlet is quite far from my house. That left me with only one option: I had to mix plain pastry flour with some Italian “hard wheat” (durum wheat/semolina) flour in order to increase the gluten content. I replaced about 25% of the flour with this. I do this when I make Italian ravioli dough, and for puff pastry as well, whenever I need the gluten.

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After that, everything went more or less smoothly; I followed the recipe to the letter (except I used sugar instead of honey). I needed the full amount of water. I believe the dough could have used a bit more rising time (and/or more yeast, and/or warmer water), as it was only beginning to rise after 90 minutes. I’m also convinced that the proportion of olive oil should be at least tripled.

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I used my beloved Silpat mat for rolling, cutting (very carefully with my ravioli wheel) and baking.

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My baking time was about 25 minutes. I tasted one for scientific purposes, the other ones had to wait for the dips to be ready. They are crusty, and rather good!

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Let me mention that next time I intend to use half the dough to make “tortas de aceite”, a delicious addictive Spanish sweet cracker, following the recipe given by Susan at the Wild Yeast blog which looks very authentic to me.

Now for the dips.

Firstly, I made salmorejo, an Andalusian classic. Salmorejo is said to be “the mother of gazpacho”, and it is typical of Córdoba in Spain. I learned to make it from my ex-sister-in-law, but she always made it without measuring anything. I therefore used a recipe, which came from this site.

Don’t even attempt to make salmorejo if your tomatoes aren’t really tasty, red and ripe. I used 4 lovely tomatoes which were exactly 500 g (a little over 1 lb.), and about 2 oz. of bread (crust removed). I pressed the garlic before it went into the food processor. I also did peel tomatoes and remove crust from bread. Since it had to be vegan, I used neither eggs nor ham for decoration, just black olives.

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And the last dip is entirely my creation, a tweaked eggplant pesto trapanese recipe borrowing elements from pesto trapanese (see here) and from eggplant pesto (see here, which is in Italian).

I used:
2 eggplants/aubergines (about 500 g total weight)
2 Tbsp roasted pine-nuts
2 Tbsp roasted almonds
1 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 walnut halves
a small bunch of basil
one clove garlic (pressed through garlic press)
5 cherry tomatoes
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt (slightly over ½ tsp.)

My first step was roasting the eggplants directly over the gas flame until soft and all skin was charred. You have to be real careful when turning them, you grab them by the stalk and take care not to get burned. Then you peel off all charred eggplant skin, rinse them and press them between your hands to remove as much moisture as possible. The rest is easy, you just put everything into your faithful food processor and pulse. You don’t need to get it too smooth.

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Well, this was my first challenge. I never thought I’d be able to do it on time, considering I was rehearsing for a theatre piece (it went great BTW). I feel sooo proud. The crackers are nice, the dips are good too. Can’t wait to see all the other posts!

- Adriana

Party Princess – September 2008

I’ll admit that I was disappointed that my very first challenge as a Daring Baker was not a sweet treat, but trying new things is part of the fun of joining. A gardening friend has been sharing her bounty of eggplant with me, so I knew that I’d make ratatouille to serve with the crackers.


I had to ask the stock boy where to find the yeast, not a good omen, but I had no trouble making the dough. I’ve had such good success rolling piecrust in a plastic zippered gizmo, that I decided to try rolling the cracker dough in it as well. I divided the dough in half and rolled two circles, sprinkled them with salt, basil and sesame seeds and cut them in wedges with a pizza cutter. I substituted non-stick foil for the parchment and baked them for about 15 minutes.


The final results weren’t as evenly browned as I would’ve liked; I guess the dough was not an even thickness. They tasted okay, especially topped with the ratatouille, but I don’t think I’ll make them again. They were a lot of bother for mediocre results. I’m looking forward to next month’s challenge!


Ratatouille (E. Casey Lunny)

1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large eggplant, diced
1 can stewed tomatoes
2 medium zucchini, diced in large chunks
herbs to taste
olive oil to sauté onion/garlic
salt and pepper to taste

• Saute the onion and garlic until tender
• Add eggplant and tomatoes, bring to simmer
• Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes
• Add zucchini
• Simmer for 10-15 more minutes, until vegetables are suitably soft
• Remove from heat
• Stir in herbs, season to taste

- Lynn

September Gluten-free Vegan Cracker Challenge!!

Hi all, bethanykae here with a funny story for you about my first challenge!

I have to say I was less than thrilled to get these crackers as my first challenge. In the past, my experience with gluten free anything has been less than delicious. After finally finding the right flour, I made them, took some pictures, but hadn’t made a dip yet. I am a baker and don’t ever make dips; it’s not my thing. I didn’t know what to make, so I put it off.

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So, I had these crackers and didn’t even want to try them because I thought they’d be gross. I had some with poppy seeds, some with garlic, and some with cinnamon sugar. I left them out and told my mom to try them all. She reports they are good, “they are better than Wheat Thins”! I am shocked but not sold, so I reluctantly tried them for myself. Ha! Who knew? They were delicious! My mom and I ate them all before I ever even made any dip to go with them!

So I finally found a humus recipe to make with my less than cooperative blender and am remaking my crackers as I type (the night before they are due)!


Here are the final results! Yum! Thanks and apologies to Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and co-host Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl! I stand corrected. Gluten-free vegan crackers can be awesome!


Until next month!

- bethanykae

The Drought, or, Languishing With Lavash

Dear Readers, the summer has finally just concluded. Fortunately, here in sunny Los Angeles, we had a very mild and temperate summer. This turned out to be very advantageous, since, now that I write full time, I have no air conditioning, and so you may entertain yourself with the image of me in ratty tank tops and shorts, schvitzing in front of my computer. But, lest you think I spent the summer at the beach or catching up on reruns, I’ve actually been working my tushy off, trying to make a deadline. My very first deadline under contract. Ahhhh.

But, you may be asking yourself, what does all this have to do with Lavash Crackers, this month’s DB Challenge?

Wow, are those crackers

Readers, the well is dry. Maybe not dry, but the water level is low. I just don’t have much in me to describe the process of making lavash crackers. And, let’s face it, has anybody ever really gotten excited about crackers? If I ever find myself at a dinner party seated next to the world’s biggest cracker enthusiast, I think I may try and change my seat. Or feign injury. “Gee, I’d love to discuss the merits of Carr’s Water Biscuits, but I seem to have sprained my uvula and must go home to put it on ice.”

That’s not a disparaging comment about this month’s host. The crackers, ultimately, turned out to be very tasty, and Z. and I enjoyed them with the required accompanying vegan dip (I opted to make a white bean and roasted garlic dip). But I just don’t possess the wherewithal to wax rhapsodic about crackers. Give me a cake or cookie or pie or bar or pastry. Then I might be able to bestir myself from the torpor induced by three months straight of writing all day, every day. Crackers…not so much.

Yep...those are crackers, all right

So, Dear Readers, I give to you, in their unadorned glory, Lavash Crackers. Those topped with coarse sea salt were the biggest hits. I’d eat them right now, if any were available. Easy to make. Quickly eaten. Wake me when it’s time for pie.

I remain,
Yours, &c.

Lavash Crackers

The Crackers:

I really enjoyed making the crackers. I know the recipe was pretty simple, and as long as you could roll them out thin enough, the product was fool proof. But I must say, I love the kneading and the waiting, watching the dough rise, so it gets to the time I get to knead again. I loved the feeling of the warm dough becoming more pliable and the feeling that it was helping mature with the warmth of my hands in the kneading. I enjoyed it a lot, even the rolling, which I thought would be boring, because I got to stretch the dough out in the air like a pizza base or something. :)

This is what I did with them:

Half mixture rolled and sprinkled with sesame seeds, shredded coconut, pounded coriander seeds and salt.

Half mixture rolled and sprinkled with homemade pecan praline (pounded) and granulated sugar.


Both baked in thin sheets and broken into rough, crispy shards. :) I had to fight to keep the best-looking shards for photos…very morish.

The Dip:

Well the first savoury dip was easy to make, but hard to think of. I had tonnes and tonnes of ideas for the sweet cracker dip, although the vegan aspect was troubling me a bit, with no use of creamy things like yogurt or cream cheese. Still, after assurance from my celiac friend that coconut milk is indeed gluten free, I settled on a Thai green curry dip.

lavash 2

I originally planned to use some tofu or ground peanuts to thicken the dip, but didn’t have tofu to hand, and my mum’s not fond of too much peanut. So seeing the avocado in the fridge, I thought it would add to the green, while hopefully not adding too much full on avocado cream dip taste. I really just wanted this dip to taste like a curry sauce that you’d slurp off of noodles. I thought grating another veggie into the mix would distract from the avocado, and carrots were easy to find in the draw. In the end I got a lovely coloured, flavourful, creamy and tasty dip. It tasted like the curry sauce I wanted, but that was after much too-ing and fro-ing to get the Thai sweet and sour flavours of the fish sauce, sugar and lime juice to set up just right.

Thai green curry dip:

- 1/2 avocado, mashed smooth with lime juice
- ½ brown onion, chopped
- Olive oil
- Small carrot, grated
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp garlic granules
- Large Tbsp Thai green curry paste (make sure vegan and gluten free)
- 150ml tin coconut milk
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- Fish sauce and lime juice to taste
- 2 drops sesame oil
- Lime wedge and ground roasted peanuts to garnish

Fry the onion in oil till translucent. Add spices and carrot and sauté for a few minutes. Add curry paste and sauté till fragrant. Add coconut milk and curry powder, sesame oil and simmer till it thickens. Stir in avocado mash; add lime juice, fish sauce and sugar. Add 2 Tbsp of the ground peanuts and mix. Serve hot or cold with lime wedge and sprinkling of peanuts.

The sweet dip, as you can probably guess from the photos, wasn’t so successful. I tried to be too smart, and made a vanilla soy milk ice-cream, that I was going to put blueberries thru and serve with the praline crackers, but then I wasn’t fond of the texture (I don’t have an ice-cream machine anymore , so it wasn’t really creamy) and realised that a dip really should be able to sit there without melting all over the place in a few minutes.

Then I thought up a raspberry and vanilla mouse. I was going to use blended silken smooth tofu, and jam down some frozen raspberries, lemon juice, sugar and vanilla seeds in a saucepan and just mix them together and in the fridge it goes. But even with strict shopping instructions, I returned home to firm, rather than smooth tofu, and thought that the dip wouldn’t be so appealing with large tasteless bits of tofu bobbing around in it (I’m not too huge a fan of tofu, and eating it sweet is a scary thing I’ve not tried as yet).

On the third strike, I thought I’d had a stroke of genius, for a smooth, boozy, warm and comforting dip, almost like an alcoholic fondue style. I was going to make golden banana rum dip. The plan was simple: golden syrup, sugar and water in a pan, heat down to syrup. Add some banana’s sliced and a little vegetable oil to another pan, and fry till they are getting a bit golden edged, add to the syrup pan and put in some golden rum, and flambé a bit. Add all this to the blender and make smooth, then dip the praline crackers in the smooth and sweet rum banana sauce. Unfortunately by the time I got home from an ‘absurdist’ play that my friend wanted me to see (and which type of play I have absolutely refused to ever see again) I just didn’t think it would be wise to stay up past 12 making this dip. I was very tempted to throw a sickie and make it today tho .

Anyhow, I will be enjoying these crackers with some native hibiscus and raspberry jam, till I can try the banana dip that is.

Thanks guys :)

- Monique

Lavash Crackers with a Trio of Dips

Many thanks to Natalie and Shel for the yummy cracker challenge. I received Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice book many years ago as a gift and read it from cover to cover with the intention of becoming not just a baker of sweet treats but also to hone my savory-baking repertoire. Sadly, I never moved beyond the pizza dough recipe, which by the way I highly recommend! Making the crackers were so much fun and I’m happy to report that they turned out fantastic! But I did not have too many to keep for myself since my coworkers staked a claim in most of the batch. It happened something like this:
“so what are you doing this weekend?”
“making crackers”
“how do you make crackers”
“it’s just like making bread, but you roll the dough really thin”
“can I try them?” “can I watch you bake them?” “Yum, can I have the recipe?!”

Olivia Lavash

To flavor my crackers I added about 2 tsp of minced garlic and 1 tsp of fresh thyme to the dough as I kneaded it. I also ended up kneading the dough a bit longer than called for (~30 minutes with a few breaks to rest my arms) just to be sure I had the right elasticity. I sprinkled the dough with a mixture of cumin seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, baked onion bits, Hungarian paprika, fresh ground pepper, and sea salt. I was thinking Everything Bagels. The flavor of the cumin seeds, toasting as the crackers baked, really came forward adding a wonderfully savory flavor to the crackers.


As for dips, I made three! All recipes lurking in my cookbook, clipped from magazines (or in the case of the red pepper dip—requested from a deli in a town I used to live) that I never got around to making. The spinach dip was good in a tasty, earthy, I-heart-spinach sort-of-way. The red pepper dip wasn’t quite what I remembered it tasted like when I used to order it at the deli. The white bean dip, however, was by far my favorite! A lemony, garlicy spread reminiscent of hummus but without the tahini taste. Here are the recipes for the dips, if you care to try them as well.

Chickpea and Spinach Spread

1 Tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 Tbs + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
10 oz spinach
Course salt
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp tahini paste

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (~ 1 minute). Add chickpeas and 1Tbs lemon juice. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add spinach, ¼ tsp salt and red pepper flakes. Cover; raise heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring once, until spinach has wilted, about 4 minutes. Uncover, raise heat to high. Cook, stirring until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Pulse mixture with tahini, 1 tsp lemon juice, and ¼ tsp salt in a food processor until slightly chunky.

Chunky White Bean Dip

1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz can cannelli beans, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 8 oz container plain soy yogurt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
juice of one lemon

Puree half of the chickpeas and half of the cannelloni beans with the garlic, yogurt, lemon juice and spices until smooth. Add remaining beans and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip (adapted from HotCakes rosalita dip)

2 red bell peppers roasted, peeled and seeded
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
3 cloves garlic
1 cup blanched almonds, toasted
1 cup olive oil
¼ cup sherry vinegar
¼ tsp cayenne

Put garlic and salt in food processor and mince finely. Add the almonds and process until fine. Add peppers and tomatoes and pulse until smooth. While machine is running pour in the oil and process until combined. Then add the vinegar and cayenne. Season with salt if needed.

- Olivia

Lovin' the Lavash!

I really enjoyed making something I would NEVER have picked out myself! It reminds me of the years I was part of a book club. I read so many great books that I would never have dreamed of reading if left to my own devices. It changed my whole reading repertoire and made me a much more adventurous reader!


Imagine making your own crackers when there are whole aisles at the grocery store devoted to crackers?! I’m so glad I did! These were easy and fun to make – not to mention delicious!!! I made mine savory with a mixture of spices. Fresh ground garlic salt was a favorite with everyone, rosemary and sea salt was very good, I liked the fennel and sea salt ones, but my kids didn’t care for that – ha, more for me!


For the dip, I made The Joy of Cooking’s hummus recipe that has been a long time favorite. They worked well with that. I was really hankering for an olive tapenade dip to go with these crackers, but alas, the crackers were eaten all up in one day and I haven’t had the time to make more.

I am looking forward to trying these again – especially some of the sweet cinnamon sugar variations. Thanks for this fun September challenge!


Lavash Crackers: The Q and A

Here are my thoughts on the challenge:

Did I like the crackers?
Yes, they are delish. The crackers remind me of store bought pita chips only better.

Would I make the crackers again?
If I had all of the ingredients, YES!!! Since I still do, I probably will. I am such a carb addict that when I want crackers, I gotta have them now...Sorry but true. I would definitely make these for guests or a football get-together. I would probably serve these crackers with homemade spinach dip or the vegan cilantro "pesto" below.

I plan on making a "sweet" batch in the near future. I first need to finish my Wilton cookie blossom classes before I start any more baking.

What would I do different?
I would definitely mist the crackers a little more. Most of my cracked pepper, poppy seeds and Zijuatanejo (sp???) sea salt fell off. This was a total bummer. The poppy seeds were from last year's garden and the sea salt was from a cruise to Ixtapa...I hate to waste these ingredients.

What are my thoughts on the Tahitian Almond Dipping sauce?
It wasn't a sauce...I followed the ingredients exactly and ended up with a paste...In fact, my cuisinart food processor started to smoke. I ended up using more than a whole orange worth of juice just for half a batch...The taste was horrible. I love a great diversity of foods and spices, but this just did not do it for me. The texture and taste were of bad peanut butter.

I ended up making another vegan sauce out of cilantro, basalmic, a garlic clove, agave nectar, olive oil, pine nuts and s&p. This came out fantastic. It tasted almost like a cilantro pesto, just without the cheese. This dip is in the picture below. It's an ugly green brown color, but dang it's good.


Who is going to eat these crackers?
Probably just my husband and I. He is downstairs snacking on them as I type...He says that he likes my cilantro sauce. Yeah.

Was the recipe easy to make?
Most definitely. The dough came out perfect. It was very easy to roll. My crackers were done in about 13-14 minutes. I used the convection feature on my oven...It automatically drops the oven temperature by 25 degrees F.

- Angelique

My Daring Bakers SUCCESSFUL First Challenge! :)

This is my first daring bakers task and I was anticipating what it would be for the past couple of weeks. I must say that I usually bake cakes and cookies and this is the very first time for me to make crackers – Lavash.

Getting my ingredients ready unrisen dough

Since I am not familiar with bread making/making crackers and using yeast I was already half expecting to do the recipe over and over again in anticipation of failure. I'm glad it did not turn out that way. In fact it turned out to be a good experience for me. I'm not sure if I was kneading the dough correctly though but I must have been doing something right since the lavash came out ok.

rolled out dough getting ready for the oven

I topped the lavash with poppy seeds and sesame seed and sea salt. I decided to run my pizza cutter along in a diamond pattern before baking. They came out crisp and golden brown and snapped easily.

fresh out of the oven

All in all it was a great experience. I would not normally make this as I am a creature of habit – meaning I usually stick to baking the usual cakes and cookies. I’m very glad I attempted to do this and I might add successful at it too. Can't wait for the next daring bakers experience!

Ready to eat

- aleli