a daily bread composed of nothing more than wheat flour, yeast, water and some salt, lavash can be either soft or dry and crisp and comes in a variety of shapes such as round, rectangular or oval. depending upon its country of origin, it can also sometimes garnished with sesame seeds and salt. this important bread is found in sizes from fairly small to extremely large.
as with many ancient breads, lavash is traditionally cooked in a clay or brick style oven which is set in the ground commonly known as a tandoor (though the name changes from country to country). halfway down page of this site, you can see how they make it in a tonir (tandoor) oven; the breads are very large. you can also see it being cooked here and here. the original "ovens" however were most likely large rocks heated in a fire.
lavash, as found here in north american supermarkets, is dry and sold as a crackerbread. it can be easily made yourself in a very hot oven with really good results as i show below. it is excellent on its own or used as a spoon or eating utensil for dips such as hoummous b'tehina or those made with sour cream or yogurt, like tzadziki.
often called, or marketed as a 'cracker bread' in north america, this stores for a very long time without any deterioration in flavour and is good for entertaining or everyday snacking. bake it on a cool day though as the oven needs to be at its highest temperature for best results. you can cut the recipe in half, too, if the full amount is too much. this version uses yogurt but it can be omitted — just increase the water content to replace it.
makes 10 lavash
1/2 oz (14 gr) fresh yeast or 2 tsp dry* (instant preferable)
1/2 c warm water
4 tbsp plain yogurt
1/2 c warm water, plus extra as needed
2 1/2 c bread flour (AP is ok)
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
if using fresh yeast, dissolve it in the half cup of warm water and mix until completed incorporated.
if using dry instant yeast, prove the yeast in the 1/2 c warm water but add a 1/4 tsp sugar*. if using active dry type, use 2 1/4 tsp of yeast.
once proved, add the yogurt and the extra 1/2 c warm water and mix will until all is blended.
while the yeast is proving, mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl or mixer.
in the center of the flour, add the wet mixture and mix until you get a ball of dough. you may need to add up to 1/4 c extra warm water depending on the season and day you're making it. add the extra water in tablespoons. the dough should be fairly stiff.
knead the dough for a full 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.
put the dough in the bowl again and add 2 tsp oil and coat the ball of dough. cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm place to rise.
the rising time will vary with the temperature and type of yeast you are using. it can take anywhere from 1 hour to 2 or 3 hours. the dough should double. i put mine in the oven with the pilot light on.
once doubled, punch the dough down and make it into a ball again. cover and put it back for 1/2 hour this time and then remove it to the counter.
preheat your oven at this point to its highest temp., minimum of 450 F. and place two baking sheets in it which can withstand the temperature. they need to be absolutely hot.
take the dough and divide it in half. keep one half of the dough covered.
with the first half, divide the dough evenly into 5 balls (make a rope 10 inch long and cut every 2 inches). cover 4 of them with a towel or plastic wrap to prevent drying out.
on a well floured surface, roll the lavash in a round shape. do this to the next one and let the first one rest while you are rolling number 2. go back to the first and stretch it with your hands trying to make it thinner. make sure to reflour your work surface, and roll it out as thinly as you can, turning the dough every so often. try not to make any rips in the dough. it will be delicate. remember, it takes some practice so if the first don't work too well, keep persevering.
continue the process with the other balls. your timing and rolling will depend on your rolling space and how quickly your oven heats to the right temperature.
carefully remove one of the pans and quickly and carefully slap down the lavash and return it right away to the oven and let cook for only 6 to 8 minutes. they will bubble up and brown a bit.
the timing will depend on your oven so i cannot give you exact times. i can tell you, however, that i turn the lavash half way through (3.5 min per side @ 500F). the lavash will be darker around the edges but that is okay. they need to be very, very crisp and not chewy. note that they will crisp further as they cool. example below is half cooked and not dark enough yet.
continue rolling and stretching the other lavash while they are baking. you can stack the uncooked ones, but make sure to use parchment between each of them to prevent sticking.
remove and place on cooking racks. store them in plastic bags. they will be good for a long time.