Lavash (Armenian Flatbread)

Why it works

  • Baking lavash under a broiler on baking steel or stone set near the bottom of the oven reproduces the intense but indirect heat of a classic Tonyle oven.
  • Honey and milk help promote rapid browning, and Lavash is perfectly cooked in just a few seconds.
  • Whole wheat flour adds flavor and color to the bread, and cornstarch helps keep the bread soft.
  • Short autolysis helps build structure in the dough without kneading.
  • The long, cold-resistant dough after molding into balls makes it easy to stretch the dough as thinly as possible.

After Tsoureki, the bread that Armenians consider most basic is Lavash. This paper-thin blanket-sized bread is one of the oldest breads still in production today.

The first bread invented by humans was probably cooked directly on hot embers. Then they were baked on a heated flat stone surface. In order to cook without burning like this, the bread had to be stretched very thinly, and Lavash was born. Since Lavash is the center of Armenian culture, it was recently added to the list of representatives of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. (Also listed individually on the list as being culturally important to Armenian neighbors Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey.) Currently, most rabashes are underground clay ovens called Tonyle. Is cooked in. On a convex metal griddle known as saj.

What is Lavash?

Lavash is a simple bread made from flour, water and salt. Some versions of Lavash are unleavened bread, but most are fermented using the “old dough” method. With this method, a small portion of each batch of dough is set aside and inoculated into the next dough (basically a type of sourdough). The dough is rolled into a thin sheet about 3 feet long x 2 feet wide, stretched over a convex cushion with a handle on the bottom, and lightly sprinkled with water. The cushion acts as a kind of leather, allowing the bakery to quickly reach out and tap the dough. In the wall of the oven, in the intense heat of the fire it sticks to, the bread foams and turns brown in just a few seconds, then is pulled out of the oven using a long metal hook and of a nearby cooked lavash. It will be added to the stack. In Armenia, lavash making is usually done by women working in groups, where each person undertakes a single element of the process (men participate in lavash making by making ovens and cushions, The bread itself, which is usually not involved in baking.) Lavash is generally eaten fresh, but is often completely dried and can be stored for later use. Once dried, thin bread has good shelf life and can be easily rehydrated by soaking it in water or sprinkling it with water.

Bake Lavash at home

I’ve never been to Armenia, so most of my understanding of how Lavash is traditionally made is to watch videos online, and Kate Rafi, Ala Zada, John. It comes from reading an excellent cookbook by Lee and the Armenian travelogue Lavash. (The video above is one of them.) And what I’ve learned is that it’s rare while making Lavash. complicatedIts unusual size and unique baking method bring a lot of complexity to anyone who wants to recreate bread at home. When developing my own recipe, I first had to shrink it. The maximum size that anyone could easily handle at home was about 12 inches long and 10 inches wide.

Given the simplicity of most Lavash dough recipes, what was incorporated into my recipe was less important than finding a way to reproduce the fiery hot Tonyle condition as much as possible. .. So I’ve put together a basic test recipe for high-protein all-purpose flour, a small amount of whole wheat (flavor and color, many lavash breads use whole wheat), water, and salt.

Tandoor is a live oven. That is, Lavash is cooked from both sides at the same time. That is, the conduction heat from the wall of the oven and the radiant heat and convection heat from the fire below. This allows you to instantly brown and crispy the outside while maintaining the flexibility and softness of the inside.

My reliable way to bake quickly in a home oven (such as a pizza) is to preheat at the maximum oven temperature (500 ° F in my case) and place it high in the oven to maximize reflected heat. It’s on the baked steel. This helps to cook the top of the bread. I tried it with Lavash fabric, but it wasn’t strong enough. Even when the bread began to turn brown (about 3 minutes later), the bread dried and became cracker-like.

So I turned on the broiler and set it on fire. This was more promising as the bread began to foam and blisters as soon as it was slid onto the steel. Obviously, the hot broiler was a better approximation of Tonyle’s fire. Eventually (after about 15 seconds), except for one problem, when the bread swelled like a giant pita, all the small bubbles combined into one. And when the top of the balloon hit the hot broiler element, it burned and burst.

So we moved the baking steel to the bottom of the oven to make room for the bread to expand. In other words, I moved to the rack below the center. This setup worked like a charm. The bread swelled completely in about 30 seconds, then I turned it over, baked it for another 5 seconds, and then pulled it out.

Lavash is baked with tandoor foam and blisters, but it cooks so quickly that it doesn’t swell like balloons.And I didn’t do my lavash bake Just like what was done with Tonyle, the end result was soft, moist and thin enough that it didn’t matter.

Complete the dough

Once I had a good baking, I focused on improving the dough recipe. It took me a few weeks to make fine adjustments, but I’ve finally come up with something I’m happy with. Here are the issues and the improvements I have made to fix them:

  • Lavash slowly turned brown. If you put it in the oven, it will be browned, but by that time it was overcooked and crispy. To speed up the browning, we added two ingredients to the formulation: honey, which is high in sugar and caramelizes quickly, and milk, which contains protein that burns quickly. (But my lavash isn’t as brown as the one baked in Tonyle yet, but it’s still great.)
  • Lavash was a little difficult. To soften them, I added a small amount of oil along with some cornstarch. This is an ingredient used in private private brands Lavash.
  • Even though the browning was improved, the lavash was still on the dry side after baking. I fixed this in two ways. We have significantly increased hydration and, like many other lavash makers, we have begun to atomize the top of the rolled-out dough with water just before putting it in the oven. (This helps to add a little water to the bread without making the rollout more difficult.)
  • Lavash was thin and resistant to stretching easily. This was resolved using long periods of low temperature fermentation. By proofing the dough at room temperature for several hours (until it is clearly activated), shaping it into individual balls and putting it in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours, the dough has enough time to relax. Deployment is much easier. (The dough can be stretched while it’s still cold, adding flexibility to the recipe.)

Tips for making lavash

Some other important things to know about making lavash:

  • Professional Lavash Baker Tons Do not scratch it with the flour when stretching the dough. This means that you can work with moist, high-moisture dough (for moist, soft bread) and still easily stretch it without tearing or sticking. You can wipe off the excess flour on the dough just before baking and the rest when the bread has cooled.
  • For best results, use straight pins when rolling the dough. Lavash makers use a thin dowel called okhlavoo to easily thin the dough like paper. Taper French pins are difficult to use on thin fabrics such as paper because they tend to compress the fabric unevenly.
  • If the bread does not swell completely within a few seconds, it probably will never swell, so do not overcook. Scratches on the fabric can prevent it from swelling completely, but if you pull it out at the right time, you’ll still get great results.
  • The rimless top plate creates a wonderful skin of Lavash. The dough is so big that it’s too big for an average pizza crust. It turns out that the rimless top plate works like a leather. (If you don’t have one, you can also use the back of the rimmed top plate.)
  • Stacking freshly baked bread is important for the final texture. Stacking the lavash under the towel and cooling it helps retain the evaporating moisture and keeps the bread soft.
  • You can make the dough cold-resistant in a variety of containers. I like to put mine in a lightly oiled pint deli container because the individual balls of dough are easy to move and there is no danger of them sticking together. If you don’t have a delicatessen, place the balls in a lightly oiled tray at least a few inches away. (And don’t be too tight to compress the dough, be sure to cover the tray tightly with plastic wrap.)
  • Lavash is intended to be eaten fresh or dried for later use. If you don’t plan to eat Lavash within a few hours, you have several options. Bread is stored in a zipper-locked plastic bag for a day or so, but it’s best to refresh it by heating it in a low oven for a few minutes or moistening it with water and letting it sit for 30 minutes to rehydrate. For long-term storage, place in a low oven for about 1 hour to dry completely to make a delicate and fragile cracker. (Armenians like to break this form of lavash into soups and stews containing their version of the “bone soup”, khash.)

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