Saturday, 27 September 2008

James Bond - Bake another Cracker

The following story is Rated PG - Parental Guidance is Suggested.
Some material may not be suitable for Children, Prudes or Fuddy-Duddies.
[With Apologies to Ian Fleming]

“Bond, there’s this cracker called a Lavash.”

“What’s that, M?”

“Ahh Bond. If you only spent as much time watching what you eat instead of spending so much time in the company of those exotic women. Speaking of spending, you’ve almost blown the MI6 budget too.”

“It’s not my fault, M, about the women. They just throw themselves at me. Tell me more about this Lavash thing.”

“It’s never your fault Bond... You see, our sources tell us that the 'Thunderballers' are trying to monopolise making Lavash. If that happens, it can only spell doom. We've considered annihilating the 'Thunderballers' but I had a better idea. Tell you what. Why don’t you try making this Lavash. There’s nothing like hands on experience to fully master something. So run along now and try and make this.”

Sighing, he closed the door and dusted his suit. He glanced at the orders in his hand, reading it again to make sure. Indeed, he had been entrusted to make a cracker called Lavash. It didn’t matter that he had never heard of a Lavash before nor did it matter that he had never seen nor tasted one before. It was his duty to make this cracker or at the very least, attempt to make it. After all, he was the MI6’s finest. He was Bond. James Bond.

Bond looked over at the sleeping form of the lovely woman beside him. His hand hovered above her naked thigh as he briefly considered having his way with her again. He shook his head, as if to clear the filthy thoughts running through his mind. He smiled quietly to himself as he slowly climbed out of bed, careful not to wake her. Duty called and the time for pleasure could wait.

He quickly washed up and winked at the dashing reflection in the mirror. He lifted his thumb out to a 90 degree angle and raised his forefinger, making the shape of a gun. As he pulled the ‘gun’ to his chest, he whispered to his reflection: “Double O – Seven. Licence to Bake”

Bond padded downstairs and into the quiet kitchen. He measured out the flour, adding in the yeast, sugar, salt and oil into a bowl. He mixed it all together and then dumped the lot into the new multi gadget that Q had made for him. He turned it on and marvelled at how the machine seemed to stir everything together nicely into a doughy mass.

For good measure, Bond used his hands - which were more accustomed to twisting necks, breaking bones and of course teasing beautiful women - to knead the dough further. His eyebrows raised as he realised this was actually quite fulfilling in its’ own way. There was something quite pure about this, something magical in working the dough to its correct texture and suppleness.

It was time now to let the dough rest and ferment. Bond placed the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and covered it with plastic wrap. He washed his hands and patted them dry just in time as the beautiful woman he had spent the night with glided down the stairs and embraced him from behind. Bond turned, pulling her close to him and began nibbling on her ear.

“Sorry Luv, no time for that now.” She laughed, almost mockingly.

“But I’ve got 90 minutes to kill.” Bond said. “That’s more than enough time, even for me…”

She giggled as Bond smiled his most charming smile at her. His smile thinned immediately when she said. “I’d love to James darling, but I promised Mother I’d take her shopping.”

Bond watched her shapely form walk out the door with more than a tinge of regret. Still, he thought, it was for the better to have less distractions as he tried to serve Queen and Country and possibly the rest of the world too.

The 90 minutes passed by quicker than he expected. Of course, naughty thoughts of his latest conquest helped pass the time as well as the thought of being able to save the world. Sometimes, Bond wasnt quite sure which he enjoyed more. The naughty conquests or saving the world. Tough choice really...

He checked the recipe again. He needed to roll the dough out to a paper thin consistency. Bond took out his gold encrusted rolling pin that Q had provided as well with the warning to be gentle as it held an explosive device inside. Bond proceeded to roll out the dough and was kind of surprised at how well it rolled out. He managed to get it super thin and it was then time to transfer it to a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. He used a pizza cutter to make neat squares on the dough.

Bond seasoned half of the Lavash with paprika and the rest with Garlic Herb Salt. It cooked beautifully and became golden in the stipulated time. Nothing like a good set of instructions Bond thought to himself as he pulled the tray out of the oven. He felt a sense of pride as he realised he had actually completed the challenge and in the process probably saved the world.

Bond quickly checked his assignment sheet and a low growl emanated from deep within him as he realised he also needed to prepare a vegan dip.

"Egad and Curses!" He exclaimed. "I overlooked this one didn't I!"

Bond quickly surveyed his fridge and a cunning plan conjured itself in his well trained MI6 mind. He smiled to himself as he thought that his recipe reminded him of that cute Mexican girl South of the border as well as that lovely Indian lass from South India. There certainly was something to be said about girls from the South!

This is what he did:

Spicy Garlic Tomato Chutney
2 large tomatoes - diced
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
2 red chillies

Grind Onion, garlic and chillies together to form a paste. Fry with a little oil till cooked through. Add in diced tomatoes and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve Chilled.

Quickly before the scheduled arrival of M and Q, Bond broke off a piece of the Lavash and dipped it into his chutney.

"Well done, Bond." He said aloud, to no one in particular.


So much for the James Bond story and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! I enjoyed this challenge immensely too.

The verdict?
My daughter liked the crackers while my son thought it was "Hmmm..quite nice Dads." The Lovely Wife thought they were pretty amazing. She even liked my Chutney although she made it a point to mention that her Salsa would have gone down better with the Lavash. She also remarked that these crackers would be a good dish to make as a starter to completely amaze people with. I mean, who would think that I would make home made crackers huh?

That was exactly what was going through my mind. Just over a year ago, I would never, ever have considered making homemade crackers. Now? Well now I'm a Daring Baker and I've learnt, just like Bond, to Never Say Never Again! So excuse me while I relax with a Martini - shaken and not stirred!

Thanks to Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and co-host Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl for hosting this months challenge.

This is the recipe.

RECIPE - Recipe Reference: The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.

Here's a simple formula for making snappy Armenian-style crackers, perfect for breadbaskets, company and kids...It is similar to the many other Middle Eastern and Northern African flatbreads known by different names, such as mankoush or mannaeesh (Lebanese), barbari (Iranian), khoubiz or khobz (Arabian), aiysh (Egyptian), kesret and mella (Tunisian), pide or pita (Turkish), and pideh (Armenian). The main difference between these breads is either how thick or thin the dough is rolled out, or the type of oven in which they are baked (or on which they are baked, as many of these breads are cooked on stones or red-hot pans with a convex surface)...

The key to a crisp lavash, to roll out the dough paper-thin. The sheet can be cut into crackers in advance or snapped into shards after baking. The shards make a nice presentation when arranged in baskets.

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

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. 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.

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. 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.

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.

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.

You may use your choice of topping/dip/salsa/relish/spread for your lavash crackers as long as it is vegan and gluten free.


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

PG indeed! I guess that anniversary thing brought this on! Totally entertaining and beautiful Lavash!!

Di said...

Great post, Dharm. =) Very entertaining, though the idea of Q making kitchen tools is a bit scary. =)

Linda Judd said...

I'm a new Daring Baker, and found your post by the "hit and miss" method. What a great story-writer, as well as a baker! Nice job of it, for sure.

glamah16 said...

Great post Dharm. You gave Ian Flemming a run for his money. I love the idea of a tomato chutney.

giz said...

Your publisher called. He said you forgot to bring him some lavash and tomato chutney. He said he saw the pictures and said you're lucky you write great stories, otherwise he would have dumped you.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those crackers look fabulous and that dip must taste great! Very well done!



steph- whisk/spoon said...

i think you have a future writing screenplays! great lavash and chutney!

Anonymous said...

I loved your intro! Your crackers are a true success, and that tomato chutney looks yummy. I also made regular flour (not GF) crackers, but they're still vegan!
Oh, and you have a beautiful family!

Jeanine - The Baking Beauties said...

Love it, Love it, Love it! FANATASTIC job on your story...It's so good, I've gotta get my hubby to come read it now. He's a huge 007 fan, and will appreciate this one. Oh, and your Lavash look wonderful too! :)

Katie said...

Wow that was a fantastic write up - well done James Bond!

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Love this post Dharm...great lavash!

Anonymous said...

Nice sounding dip - I expected Bond would make an olive and vermouth dip though. : )

Helene said...

Great post Dharm! Baked those at night in my pjs too :)
The crackers turned out perfect!!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

It is sad to hear that we will never hear you say "Bond..James Bond..." in any of your future movies. James did an excellent job with this mission he chose to take..he conquered the baking world:D

RecipeGirl said...

Very creative.. Loved it!

Lauren said...

Haha, Love the story! Seriously, that was awesome! Oh, and your lavash doesn't look half bad either. =D

Natalie, aka "Sheltie Girl" said...

Great story Dharm and Happy Anniversary!

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

Dewi said...

First, Conratulation on your wedding anniversary, I wish you all the best!
Secondly, Thank you for visiting my blog. Do visit again.

Good write up, I think you'll be successful screenwriter.
Well done on baking those good looking crackers Mr. Bond!

Thistlemoon said...

Awesome job Dharm! Great story telling as well! I always enjoy reading your DB posts! Nice looking chutney too!

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, Mr. Bond...I try to SKIM these Daring Bakers posts...Not spend precious minutes being amused and somewhat intrigued by them

Great job, once again Bond, you have served the country well.

NKP said...

Great post, I loved it!
Your crackers and dip look perfect - and your wife - a knock-out. You are a lucky guy, no wonder you like to spoil her so much!
Happy Anniversary.

Karen Baking Soda said...

Uhoh...Daring Bakers go naughty with crackers! Spread it on! Fine baking Dharm!

Maggie said...

The chutney sounds easy to make and really delicious! I need Q making gadgets for my kitchen.

jasmine said...

Very well done!


Elle said...

Ah James, I mean Dharm, a great story for a great homemade the crackers and dip went well with the martini, shaken, not stirred.
Glad to have another DB friend writing a story to go with the challenge.

Deeba PAB said...

PG all the way,& Dharm at his wittiest best. I enjoyed it as much as you did!! LOL...great lavash, yum dip & wonderful read. Well done Dharm...brilliant!

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

Belated Anniversary wishes, Dharm.
I can see you had a tough challenge this time. Not easy choosing between serving the country and the self, eh?
Well, you came through in true Bond style. Perfect crackers and lovely dip.

sunita said...

Dharm, belated wishes for your 10th anniversary...and my, oh my! what a post...loved every bit of it :-D...the plot, the crackers and of course, the dip :-)

Nikki @ NikSnacks said...

Happy anniversary, friend!

These pictures are absolutely beautiful. I want to make this chutney now... I'm excited...let me go find some tomatoes...

Gabi said...

Very clever Mr. Bond! You've found the secret DB mission and chosen to save the world! Bwaahaaa!

toontz said...

Happy Anniversary Dharm! Your story was quite entertaining. My imagination began to run away with me when I thought of you defending yourself in your kitchen. Would you use the spatulas? The knives? Only 007 knows for sure! Oh, yeah, your lavash looks wonderful, too.

CECIL said...

I just love your blog! And the entry is so entertaining. :) I can't wait for my first challenge as Daring Bakers next month. The chutney .. I love tomato chutney!! I'd eat spoonful of those when I make them for idli or dosa.

maybelles mom said...

hilarious post and I love that last picture. good job.

creampuff said...

Whew ... sounds like 007 had a lot more fun making crackers than I did!!! But secretly I always knew he was a Daring Baker ...

CookiePie said...

Gorgeous photos! The chutney sounds delicious too. And I loved your post - so fun and creative!!

fatboybakes said...

oooooooh, fellow countryman in the DB challenge!!! greetings!!! your lavash jadi very well huh!!!

Shelby said...

You did a great job - with the story and the crackers/dip!

Núria said...

A fantastic and so creative post Dharn! I loved it♥♥ So funny the story with Bond. Great Job :D

By the way, your chicken at the Joust is a Señor Pollo as we say here (means that it looks great). Mmmmmm

BC said...

Bond as a cook? That is very appealing... and entertaining. hahaha

Argus Lou said...

While I don't care for Bond, your lavash and dip are good looking. :-)

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Lol, what a funny post! Your writing is great and so are your crackers!

Anonymous said...

I've already tried fatboybakes' lavash. It tasted very good with foie gras pate(shhhh...don't tell anyone).

I love your blog!!! (Was just telling hubby about your blog...hoping to inspire him to step into the kitchen too!)

Meeta K. Wolff said...

I love the Bond story Dharm! you always crack me up. The story almost puts the crackers in the shadows - almost. They look great and that chutney looks too good! nice one!

Cakelaw said...

LOL - I loved this post! Great lavash and chutney too.

Dagmar said...

Lovely post! And the crackers look great!

Leslie said...

Love the story..and love the crackers and chutney!
Thank you so very much to your visit to my blog and comment on my crackers! Stop back by anytime


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