Making Lavash – A Weekend Diversion
While cleaning my office on Sunday, I decided to tackle a carton full of my bylined articles, accumulated over more years than I care to admit. There were stories I had written at Co-Ed magazine when I was a 26-year-old food editor living in New York City; stories from the Honolulu Advertiser where I wrote, edited and designed a weekly food section; and the various food articles I had written freelance for the Associated Press.
Planning to sort, scan and toss, I hadn’t gone very far when I came upon an article by Maili Yardley, the venerable writer who captured the life and times of Hawaii each week for the Advertiser in her food column, The Island Way.
I’d saved that column for her lavash recipe. This Middle Eastern cracker bread was often served, tucked in crisp white napkins, in the better restaurants of Honolulu at the time.
Since making lavash was much more fun than plowing through a lifetime of my food writing, I abandoned my cleaning and headed for the kitchen to make me some cracker bread.
These days, you can buy lavash in many Middle Eastern groceries so there’s no need to make it. But, if like me, you’re looking for a diversion from chores some weekend afternoon, this project might be just the thing.
The dough is very wet and can be difficult to roll. You’ll need a generous sprinkling of flour to keep the dough from sticking. If you’ve never worked with wet, sticky dough before, start by making half a recipe to get acclimated.
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2¾ cup flour
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
½ cup butter, chilled and cut in ½-inch dice
1 cup buttermilk
Additional flour for rolling (about ¾ cup)
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, sesame seeds and poppy seeds and mix well. Scatter the butter over the mixture and with clean fingers, work the butter into the flour. Add buttermilk and mix just until the wet and dry ingredients are combined.
Prepare a well-floured surface for rolling. Pinch off a golf-ball size piece of dough, roll in the flour to coat, then roll out the dough as thinly as possible, using a floured rolling pin. Continually flip the dough after one or two passes with the rolling pin so the bottom becomes the top, to ensure that the dough isn’t sticking to the surface. If the dough sticks to the rolling pin, use a sheet of waxed paper between the dough and the rolling pin.
Gently remove dough and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat until all the dough is used. Brush tops of dough with a pastry brush to dust off excess flour; bake in a preheated 375°F oven for about 12 to 15 minutes, until the lavash is golden. If baking two pans at once, switch the pans halfway through cooking for more even baking.
Cool lavash on wire racks. The lavash should be cracker-crisp and will be in irregular shapes, which is part of their charm. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 15 lavash, about 6 inches in diameter.
Recipe adapted from recipe by Maili Yardley, The Island Way column
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