September 27, 2008

Lavash Crackers & Avocado-Mango Salsa

Once again, it is time for the revelation of this month's Daring Bakers Challenge. For this challenge, the choice went to an Alternative Daring Baker, Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and Shel of Musings From the Fishbowl co-hosted it. They chose something savory for the challenge this month - Lavash Crackers with our personal choice of vegan toppings for the challenge from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice (pp 178 - 180). The challenge was special in that it was to be a vegan and/or gluten free challenge. It happened to be my first savory DB challenge and needless to say I was excited. I decided to go just vegan (and not gluten-free too!) with this challenge, choosing the non-gluten free cracker method. The choice of topping was very simple this time with just white sesame seeds for the lavash topping and Avocado - Mango Salsa as the dip.

Recipe (Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers) :

Unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend - 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz)

(If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
Salt - 1/2 tsp (0.13 oz)
Instant yeast - 1/2 tsp (0.055 oz)
Agave syrup or sugar - 1 tbsp (0.75 oz)
Vegetable oil - 1 tbsp (0.5 oz)
Water - 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz), at room temperature


1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the
windowpane test and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.


2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.


4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

What I did:

I finally got around to making the crackers yesterday. Everything went fine and the dough turned out to be smooth, soft and just right. I divided the dough in half before rolling it out. I rolled out the dough and cut them into rectangles, moistened the surface and sprinkled sesame seeds over them. Just to make sure that the sesame seeds stick, I gently pressed them onto the surface. (I also sprinkled a bit of cumin seeds and a pinch of chilli powder over my second sheet of crackers). My first sheet of crackers were fine (eventhough I didnt have to bake them even for 10 minutes), but the second sheet was browned too quickly. So I reduced the temperature of the oven to 300F. Even then, some pieces turned out too brown for my likes. So I reduced the baking time to about 6-8 minutes, and managed to salvage some lightly browned pieces, which were really crisp nonetheless. I made an Avocado - Mango Salsa from scratch to go with the crackers. The recipe for the salsa is from

Avocado - Mango Salsa :

Avocado - 1, peeled, pitted and diced
Lime - 1, juiced
Mango - 1, peeled, seeded and diced
Red onion - 1 small, chopped

Habanero pepper - 1, seeded and chopped
Chopped fresh cilantro - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste


Place the avocado in a serving bowl, and mix with the lime juice.

Mix in the mango, onion, habanero pepper, cilantro and salt.


  1. I omitted the habanero pepper. Jalapenos would be a nice substitute to the habaneros. Or else, add some chopped red bell peppers to the salsa.
  2. I added one tomato, diced, to the salsa.
  3. I also added a tbsp of chopped green onions.

Hope everyone loved reading about this DB challenge and checking out the pictures. I cant wait for the next DB challenge! Dont forget to check out the wonderful crackers and toppings of the other DB-ers, here. Enjoy!!

September 16, 2008

Date-Nut Bread

Welcome back to Tasty treats! I know I was not actively blogging over the past few weeks. I am sorry for the inactivity on my blog and I would like to thank everyone who extended their support and wishes to me over the last few weeks. Eventhough I am not posting on the blog, I still do try out recipes occasionally and am reserving them for sharing with all of you later on. One of the recipe I tried recently is the Date-Nut bread which I made after weeks of drooling, on coming across the recipe! ;-) Just like expected the bread was fantatsic, with lots of dates and nuts in each mouthful. It sure was soft, moist and flavorful. We had it with a bit of chocolate syrup drizzled over the slices and it was simply out-of-the-world! Yum-yum!!! Do try this out and you wont be disappointed! Dont forget to let me know your thoughts and suggestions!

Recipe (Makes 1 loaf):

Chopped pitted dates - 1 1/2 cups
Butter or margarine - 6 tbsp, cut up
Boiling water - 1 1/4 cups
All-purpose flour - 2 cups
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Egg - 1 large, lightly beaten
Walnuts - 1 cup, coarsely chopped


In a medium bowl, combine dates and butter, stir in the boiling water and let stand until cool.

Preheat the oven to 325F.

Grease a 9" by 5" metal loaf pan.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Stir egg into the date mixture.

Now, stir the date-egg mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened.

Stir in the walnuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Cool loaf in the pan on wire rack for 10 minutes.

Remove the bread from the pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Source: Great Baking from Good Housekeeping.

  1. I used about 1 cup (8 oz) of chopped pitted dates.
  2. Instead of walnuts I used about 1/2 cup of slivered almonds with a few sliced almonds on top.
  3. I baked the bread for about 1 hour 10 minutes. It is advisable to check the doneness around the 1 hour mark.
  4. Variations of the recipe include prune bread (using 1 1/2 cups of coarsely chopped pitted prunes instead of dates) and fig bread (using 1 1/2 cups of coarsely chopped dried figs instead of dates).

Hope you all are having a great time, and see you all real soon!!