The silly season is almost upon us - how did that happen?! With that in mind, we wanted to give you a recipe that will help grease the post-lockdown rusty wheels of socialising and hospitality.
Homemade Lavash - or flatbread crackers are a quietly genius way to spruce up your cheese platter. They also make the perfect offering to take to holiday get-togethers, and they're a lovely gift for friends, colleagues and school teachers. To the receiver they have the sparkly allure of being an impressively complicated thing to make, but they're really not! Whether you're a novice in the kitchen or an old-hand, Lavash crackers require a very small set of both skills and ingredients.
Let's do this.
Makes about 36 crackers
1 cup plain/all purpose flour (150g)
Pinch of salt
3 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup water
Preheat the oven to 200c (180c fan-forced) and set aside 2 baking trays, lined with baking paper.
In a mixing bowl, combine plain flour and salt. Make a well in the centre.
Add 2 tbsp of olive oil and the water to the well, and mix gradually until you have what's known as a shaggy dough (lumpy but well mixed with no dry spots). If it looks a little dry add more water 1 tsp at a time. Form the dough into a rough ball then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.
Knead the dough a little with the heels of your hands to make it pliable and elastic - about 2 minutes.
Divide dough roughly into three portions. Roll out each portion as thinly as you can - about 1-2 mm thick. I find it easier to do this by putting the dough between 2 pieces of baking paper. Keep the surfaces dusted with flour as you go (if not rolling between baking paper).
Using a sharp knife, or better yet a pizza cutter, cut dough into your desired shapes (long strips, squares etc) then place them on the baking trays. You don't want them to overlap, but they also won't spread as they cook, so no need to space them.
Using a pastry brush, brush the remaining olive oil (1 tablespoon) evenly over the surface of the crackers, then sprinkle them with a little salt.
Bake for 6-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Then turn the oven off and leave the crackers on their trays in the oven while it cools. This allows them to really dry out and maintain their crunchiness.
Kept in an airtight container, they'll stay fresh for 2-3 weeks.
PIMP MY RECIPE You can sprinkle so many things on lavash to really make them sing!
Just before you pop them in the oven, and after you've brushed them with olive oil and sprinkled a little salt, you can add all manner of seeds and seasonings:
MIX, WAIT, SHAPE & BAKE. That's all that's required for the most beautiful, golden crusty homemade loaf. Your nearest and dearest will think you've spent weeks nurturing a starter then half a day kneading and resting the dough. There is no need to tell them that you produced this wondrous bread on a spur of the moment whim, or that it took a mere 10-15 mins of your time to put together.
Your secret is safe with us.
Prep time: 15min (+2 hrs for rising)
Bake time: 40min
3 cups (450g) plain bakers flour
2 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp diastatic malt powder
1.5 cups (375 ml) of very warm water. Not super hot, not tepid. Think lovely bath water temperature. (50°c is perfect if you have a thermometer).
Extra flour for dusting.
Mix flour, malt, yeast, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add water, then stir with spatula or wooden spoon until combined. Dough will be a splattery, gooey mucky mess – too wet to knead but not as runny as a batter. You may need to add a splash more water to get the right consistency.
Cover the bowl with wax wrap, cling film or plate. Now leave it somewhere warm to rise for about 2 hours, after which it will have doubled in volume. If it's not rising, move it somewhere warmer.
Place a dutch oven or casserole pot with a lid on into your cold oven. Turn on and heat the oven to 230°c (210°c fan forced). This also will preheat the dutch oven/casserole dish at the same time.
While it's heating shape the dough:
Place a large square of baking paper on your work surface and sprinkle a scattering of flour over it. Scrape the sticky dough out onto it using a spatula or scraper. Sprinkle a little more flour over the dough. Use your scraper or spatula to fold the sides of the dough in on itself to form a roundish mound. It doesn't have to look perfect; in fact the less smooth and round, the crunchier the crust!
Remove the piping hot dutch oven/casserole pot from the oven. Remove the lid. Lift corners of paper to place dough into the pot, paper and all. Place the lid on and put it in the oven.
Bake 30 minutes covered, then 10 minutes uncovered or until golden and crispy.
Cool on rack for 30 minutes before slicing. If you can. No judgement from us if you start whittling away at it immediately.
PIMP MY RECIPE
If the thought of homemade bread makes you think of effort, time, just too much hassle, I'm here to change your mind. This focaccia recipe requires NO KNEADING and MINIMAL BABYSITTING! You combine the ingredients in a bowl, pop the bowl in the fridge overnight, pour into a baking tray and bake the next day.
Focaccia is perfect for a bits n’ pieces supper, a ploughman's style lunch, a quick breakfast, the lunch box, or a host gift next time you're invited to someone's place for a meal. We like using it as a pizza base at our place.
Let's do this!
2 cups heritage flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp instant yeast
2 cups warm water
1 tsp soft butter for greasing pan
3 tbs olive oil
Italian herbs or dried rosemary
Sea salt flakes
Combine flour, kosher salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl, stir to combine. Add warm water, whisking it in as you go, til it's mixed well. (A wooden spoon will suffice if no whisk handy). Cover the bowl well and pop it in the fridge for a minimum of 8 hours, maximum 24.
Butter a 22cm cake tin or brownie pan. The shape doesn't matter. Line the pan with baking paper then pour in 2 tbsp olive oil into the pan. Put dough in a pan, turning it over so it's coated in oil. Tuck the dough edges in so it's a roughly shaped ball in the pan.
The 2nd rise: cover the pan and leave it to rest for about 2 hours. A warm place is good - sometimes I pop my dough in the car to give it a little nudge. When the dough has swollen to cover most of the pan, it's ready for the oven!
Baking: drizzle the remaining tbs of olive oil over the risen dough. Now the fun part: press down on the dough with both hands so all your fingers make deep dents in the surface. Sprinkle top with Italian herbs or Rosemary and flaky sea salt.
Bake at 200°c (180°c fan forced) on the centre oven rack for 25 mins approx. Check it at the 20 min mark. If it's nicely golden and the sides are crispy its ready.
Use a spatula to transfer carefully to a cooling rack
PIMP MY RECIPE
My 12yo heard about this most excellent recipe, which produces a stack of warm, fluffy flatbread in the same time it takes to cook a pot of rice.
I often hand this job entirely to the 12yo to do. I just swoop in at the 11th hour to supervise the frying bit.
1 cup self raising flour (regular or gluten free)*
½ cup Greek yoghurt (coconut yoghurt and sour cream work also)
Pinch salt (optional)
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until combined - no kneading necessary! My kids like to use their hands for the mixing bit.
Now look smugly at the big ball of dough you've made, and give it a pat :)
Lightly flour a cutting board or kitchen surface. Sprinkle a little extra flour on the ball of dough, and transfer onto the floured surface. Press the ball of dough into a disc and cut into 6 even(ish) pieces. Use a rolling pin or an empty glass bottle to flatten each piece of dough til they're about 1cm thick and vaguely oblong or round.
Heat a large, preferably non-stick frypan on medium heat. When hot, place a piece of naan in the dry pan and cook for about 2 minutes, before flipping and cooking for another minute.
If desired, brush the tops of the naan bread with melted ghee, butter or oil.
*If you don’t have self raising flour, the maths for making your own is pretty user friendly: 1 tsp baking powder to 1 cup plain flour.
WAIT, WHAT DO I DO WITH THE LEFTOVERS?
If you have leftover naan (lol, I've never experienced this phenomenon but you never know) you can refrigerate it or freeze it for later.
Place the wrapped, sealed naan in the fridge or freezer, where they'll keep beautifully for 3 days in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer. To reheat, pop it in a dry, moderately hot pan (or sandwich press!) for a minute or 2 on each side. No need to defrost before reheating.
PIMP MY RECIPE:
For Garlic Naan, drizzle cooked naan with garlic oil, or if using fresh garlic do the following:
Fry the first side, flip it over and brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with about 1/4 tsp freshly minced garlic. Flip the garlic side of the naan onto the cooking surface for about 15 seconds (just until the garlic adheres to the naan. You don't want to burn the garlic.)
When mixing your dough, add a handful of sultanas or raisins, some dessicated coconut and flaked almonds.
Drizzle cooked naan with a little olive oil and chopped herbs, like coriander, mint and parsley.