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Crackers, The Vegan Way - Lavash Crackers and Toppings: Daring Bakers Challenge September 2008

Posted Sep 15 2009 4:47pm


B y now, most food bloggers knows that it’s the end of the month and that food blogosphere is going to be deluged with thousands of Daring Baker versions of one particular recipe. I wouldn’t be surprised or blame the non-Daring Bakers if they looked at this particular phenomenon with some apprehension.

This month, our challenge has been a bit different. Our hosts this month, Natalie of Gluten A Go Go and Shel of Musings From The Fishbowl, are both alternative bakers. There is a small group of Alternative Daring Bakers within our group who modify the regular challenges, every month, to suit their diet choices and continue to bake with the rest of us. The innovations they come up with to do this is something I have marveled at month after month.




So this month, our hosts decided to have all of us Daring Bakers bake the alternative way. We had to make vegan crackers {Lavash Crackers from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice (pp 178 - 180)} with the option of gluten-free or non gluten-free, for which they provided us with the recipe. We had full freedom with a choice of one or more dips to accompany the crackers, provided they were vegan and gluten-free.

I have made crackers before so I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge. Making the crackers and the dips was a breeze.

A full and printable version of this month’s challenge is here.


My Cracker Making Experience:

I chose to make the Non Gluten-Free Crackers with whole wheat flour. We were also given the freedom to experiment with what we wanted to add to our crackers in terms of salts, spices, seasonings or seeds.




I found the dough required a bit more kneading than suggested in the recipe. So what I did was to put everything into my processor and kneaded the dough in it for a couple of minutes. I then kneaded the dough further by hand till it was smooth and elastic.

My dough didn’t get anywhere near the suggested windowpane test. I was wondering if 100% whole-wheat dough could achieve that level of elasticity?

The one thing I had problems with was baking the crackers on parchment. My dough stuck to the parchment and wouldn’t come off! I have round cookie trays, so what I did was to lightly grease them and roll the dough thin on them and then bake the crackers on the back of the cookie tray. This worked perfectly.

I also needed to bake the crackers for about 30 minutes to get them crisp.

So I made my crackers in four flavours.

1.  Using one half of the recipe, I rolled out a big round (about 9” diameter) and lightly moistened the top. I sprinkled some freshly crushed pepper, cumin seeds and black and white sesame seeds. I then lightly pressed them into the dough using my rolling pin. I then marked them with a pizza cutter into 8 pieces before baking.

2.  To the other half recipe of dough, I added thymol seeds (an Indian spice also known as Ajwain in Hindi and Omam in Tamil) which I believe these are also called Carom seeds or Bishop's weed in English. These were cut out using butterfly shaped cookie cutters and baked. I got 15 butterfly crackers.




3.  I made some pizza-ish flavoured crackers using a half of the dough. I used olive oil instead of vegetable oil, and added 2 tsp of home-made marinara sauce, 1 ½ tsp red chilli flakes and 1 tsp of dried Italian herbs to the dough. I then rolled out the dough into a circle and baked it.




4.  I also made a half recipe of the dough flavoured with freshly crushed pepper, some thymol seeds and a big pinch of asafetida powder. These were all incorporated into the dough while kneading. After rolling the dough out, I cut them out into approximately 3” rounds using a cutter. I got 14 of these which I used to make Indian style “ chaat ”. Traditionally these are made using crisp deep-fried dough rounds called “puris”. I substituted the puris with the crackers.




To make these, place a little bit of mashed potato (which has been seasoned with a little salt and chopped coriander leaves) on a cracker. Top this with a bit of finely chopped onion. Top this off with some Tamarind and Date Chutney. Now sprinkle some “Sev”(deep-fried savoury chickpea flour vermicelli; this can be found in Indian stores) or even potato wafers. Garnish with a little fresh coriander. Do these with the other crackers.

Serve immediately.

This “chaat” can get soggy if not eaten immediately, so the idea is to keep all the ingredients ready in different bowls and each person puts together his/ her own “chaat”.


The Dips/ Chutneys:

I made an Apple-Tomato- Raisin Chutney which was a nice combination of sweet, sour and spicy. I also made a Spicy Onion Peanut Chutney/ Dip which was spicy and nutty with a slight sweetness. These are my own concoctions and the recipes for these are below.

As mentioned above, I also used a Tamarind and Date Chutney for the “chaat” which would also make a great dip on its own.


Apple Tomato Raisin Chutney




Ingredients:


2½ cups chopped tomato

2 big apples (peeled, cored, quartered and sliced)

¾ cup golden raisins

2 big onions, grated

2 tbsp finely chopped ginger

juice of 1 lemon

¾ cup powdered jaggery (or brown sugar)

2 tbsp red chilli flakes

1 tsp cinnamon powder

3 cloves

salt to taste

1½ tbsp oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp aniseed


Method:


Add the lemon juice to the apples and keep aside.
I ran the chopped tomatoes a couple of time in my mixer/ blender so that my tomatoes were partially liquidized partially chunky. Put the raisins in a small bowl and pour just enough water so they’re immersed. Keep aside for about 10 minutes.

Put the soaked raisins, apples, tomatoes, powdered jaggery, chilli flakes, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a microwave safe bowl.
Dry roast the cumin seeds and aniseed and pound them to a coarse powder. Add this to the bowl.

In the same pan, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and when they splutter add the ginger and grated onions. Sauté till the onions become soft and golden. Add this to the bowl.

Mix everything well and microwave the mixture at 100% for about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring after every 10 minutes till the chutney is quite thick.
Cool and bottle. This quantity gave me enough to a fill a large jam jar.

I am sending this chutney across to Heart Of The Matter: Preserving The Harvest  and Key Ingredient Cook's Kitchen.


Spicy Onion Peanut Chutney/ Dip:



Ingredients:


2 big onions, sliced

½ cup shelled, unsalted and roasted peanuts

2 dry red chillies

1 ½ tsp oil

½ tsp thick tamarind extract or paste

1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves

1 tbsp fresh mint leaves

1 tsp sugar

salt to taste


Method:


Heat the oil and sauté the sliced onions till they turn soft and golden. Grind this along with all the other ingredients, adding a little water, to a fine paste. Serve.

You may adjust the ingredients, especially the red chillies, to suit your taste.

Verdict:


This was a challenge that I really enjoyed for many reasons. While I enjoyed all the past challenges, even the ones I had problems with, I was particularly happy with this one because it was a savoury recipe and vegetarian/ vegan.

It also satisfied my need for healthy, low fat and crunchy snacking! If you would like to feast your eyes on some more savoury and vegetarian cracker fare, please do take a look at the other Daring Baker blogs. You won’t be disappointed.

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