Saturday, September 27, 2008
September Daring Bakers: A Quickie
Well, I survived my first week of work, and even managed to eat all of my dinners at home - something that I've heard most people my age consider to be fairly outrageous. Although working "normal" office hours is certainly a change of pace for me, I'll admit that the feeling that comes with the approach of the weekend is kind of fun.
I was feeling it today as I sat down for my morning blog-fest and discovered that today is the posting date for this month's Daring Bakers challenge. Yikes. I hadn't really thought much about it, especially since I had been assuming all week that I'd have until the 30th.
Luckily, this month's challenge was a quick one. The quickest, actually, that I've completed. No multi-layer, multi-day cakes or pastries this time; just a simple batch of Armenian lavash crackers. I've made my fair share of crackers, so I wasn't too worried about this challenge, even though it calls for a yeasted dough. Unlike yeasted bread, yeasted crackers aren't particularly fickle, and the yeast is there for dough structure and flavor more than it is for lift.
What I'm trying to say is this: yes, I completed the challenge, but I don't have much of an interesting story to go along with it. I made the simple dough (flour, water, oil, sugar, yeast, salt), let is rise for a bit, rolled it out, and baked it. Oh, and then I ate lots and lots of crackers.
Although I didn't feel very challenged by this month's recipe, I did enjoy the crackers that I made, and was happy to make something that I would normally eat (no, I don't normally eat gargantuan Danish braids). The only change I made to the recipe was substituting whole wheat flour for the all-purpose that it called for. Crackers are great for whole wheat flours, since they don't need to rise much. The whole wheat makes them a bit darker than white-flour crackers, but they are hearty and delicious and have a wonderful texture. I found that the key to making these crackers was rolling the dough as thin as possible, and then watching them in the oven to make sure that they came out nicely crisp, but not burnt.
We had free range on the cracker toppings, and I chose one sweet and one savory. The first batch was dusted in cinnamon and turbinado sugar, and the second was za'atar themed, with sesame seeds, thyme, and ground sumac. Both were wonderful, although I think the za'atar version would be particularly good with all sorts of spreads and cheeses. Speaking of which...this month's challenge also called for making a spread or dip to go with the crackers. And, well, I kind of....didn't do that. I was thinking about muhammara, which I love, but in the end, I ended up eating the crackers plain, and was quite satisfied. Besides, these challenges are supposed to be about the baking, right?
Thanks to Natalie and Shel, this month's Daring Bakers hosts. Be sure to check out the other Daring Bakers creations, and get excited for next month's challenge...I'm already looking forward to finding out what wild and crazy recipes October will bring!