I’ll be honest — this hasn’t been my favorite recipe in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. It isn’t even my favorite cracker recipe. That honor goes to Smitten Kitchen’s flatbreads with honey, thyme and sea salt, which I have made twice in rapid succession and are so addictive that I’m slightly afraid to make them again. But in the interest of forging ahead through the book, I’m including my take on Reinhart’s recipe for your reading pleasure.
Why Are Crackers in a Bread Book?
The dough used for these crackers is actually pretty versatile. It’s a simple formula that makes a soft, stretchy dough that rolls out well. Rolled very thin, the dough bakes up quickly into thick, crunchy crackers. Rolled a little thicker and slightly underbaked, they end up as something like a lavash wrap (perfect if you’re in the habit of making wraps instead of sandwiches for lunch). And if you cut the dough into circles and bake it at very high temperatures (500°F), they’ll puff up into a nice pita bread. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the texture and flavor of these reminded me of pita chips (and would be awesome with hummus).
Lavash Cracker Toppings
Since crackers often end up getting dipped into all sorts of good stuff, they don’t necessarily need a ton of extra flavor on their own. If you’re planning on pairing these with a dip or a spread, you keep your toppings to a simple sprinkle of sea salt on top right before you bake them.
I threw a bunch of different things on top of my batch of crackers to see what worked best. I used fresh black pepper, thyme, sesame seeds, and hot paprika, all with a bit of sea salt. Much of the chunkier toppings ended up falling off pretty quickly. However, I really loved the hot paprika and sea salt. The next time I bake this cracker recipe (or another one), I’ll probably repeat that combo for the whole batch. Whatever you end up choosing, keep in mind that a little goes a long way flavor-wise, especially for spicier ingredients, since the flavor of the cracker itself is pretty neutral.
Lavash Crackers Recipe
Yields 1 sheet pan of crackers. Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.
- 1.5 cups bread flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 1/2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup water, room temperature
- Hot paprika and sea salt for topping
- Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk together honey, oil, and 1/3 cup water. Pour honey mixture into dry mixture and stir to combine. If the mixture is too dry, add the remaining portion of water.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes. The dough should be firm, but stretchy and satiny to the touch. Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, then cover.
- Let ferment at room temperature for about 90 minutes, or until dough doubles in size.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mist your work surface lightly with spray oil, then turn the dough out onto the surface. Dust the top of the dough very lightly with flour. Press the dough into a rectangle. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a thin sheet, about 15×12 inches. If the dough doesn’t stay rolled out very well and tries to spring back, stop working on it and let the gluten relax for a few minutes, then continue. You can lift it up by one end (carefully) and wave it a little to help this process. When the dough reaches the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment and carefully transfer the dough to the parchment (it shouldn’t stick to the work surface). If the dough hangs over the edge of the pan, trim it with a sharp knife or scissors.
- Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle on any toppings that you’d like to add. If you want your crackers to be specific shapes (rectangles, long strips, and triangles are good options), cut them now. Don’t worry about separating the pieces — they’ll break apart easily after baking. Otherwise, you can break the cracker sheet apart into less uniform pieces (some might even call them “rustic” crackers) after it has cooled.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until crackers begin to brown evenly across the top. Note: Keep an eye on the crackers for the first few minutes in the oven — if you’ve got any air pockets, they’ll swell into big bubbles. You can attempt to keep them at bay by poking them with a sharp knife early on in the baking process, but the longer you wait the less you can do about it (hence the mega bubble in my batch, as seen below).
- After you take the crackers out of the oven, let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then just snap them apart or break them into shards and serve.