I’ve got to hand it to Mike Minassian… he’s not a quitter. He diligently set out to find the perfect lahmajoun dough recipe described so eloquently: “It should not be a bit dry; it should be well toasted but at the same time very flexible and a bit greasy. The borders should be a little burnt like an old scroll. When you roll it up to eat it you should notice that the folded dough doesn´t have any cracks.”
With that in mind, Mike used the fourth recipe I sent him for experiment #2. This one is from the cookbook, ’Armenian Cuisine – Preserving Our Heritage’ – St. John Armenian Church cookbook, Southfield, Michigan.
I mentioned that this recipe differs from others in that it uses whole milk, canned evaporated milk in addition to vegetable shortening. I also suggested that perhaps the fat in the milk plus the shortening might give the dough the flexibility he is seeking. I warned him that this recipe yields 80 to 90 lahmajouns, so make adjustments accordingly!
Mike made a double batch of lahmajoun topping with the first dough experiment which saved him a good deal of preparation time.
Without further ado, here is Mike’s Lahmajoun Dough Experiment Part 2 including his comments, photos, and evaluation:
Lahmajoun Dough Recipe (from the cookbook, ’Armenian Cuisine – Preserving Our Heritage’ – St. John Armenian Church cookbook, Southfield, Michigan)
3 packages (or 7 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 cups lukewarm water (about 105°F to 110° F)
1 ½ Tablespoon sugar
12 ounce can evaporated milk
2 cups whole milk
1 cup water
1 ½ cups shortening, melted
½ teaspoon salt
5 pounds flour, for medium-soft dough
1. In a 4-cup measuring cup, add the yeast, 2 cups warm water and sugar. Stir to dissolve well. Set aside and allow to activate (proof).
2. In a large bowl, or bowl of a stand mixer, combine the evaporated milk, whole milk, 1 cup water, melted shortening and salt.
3. Begin adding flour and the proofed yeast to the liquid ingredients. Mix well. Continue to add flour until you have a medium-soft dough. Place dough on a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
4. Place dough in a clean bowl, and cover with plastic wrap or kitchen towel until double in size. Dough should be soft.
5. Punch down dough and form into 2 ounce balls. Keep balls covered in plastic wrap. Roll out each ball into a circle.
|Water is brushed onto baking sheet before placing disks on it.|
|Meat-vegetable topping thinly applied.|
|Baked and stacked. A squeeze of lemon juice on baked lahmajoun adds a fresh flavor!|
|Ready to serve!|
After Mike completed his second experiment, he offered his thoughts and evaluation:
“I bring news about the second try to get this dough like I want to:
I skipped the evaporated milk, (because) I seriously doubt the elderly woman uses that in her recipe. What I also did different is the cooking. I've been doing some research and found out that the woman after greasing the baking sheet with oil, or fat, (I heard two versions) she brushes the surface with water just before placing the dough disks on it. This time I made the disks thinner also.
So I followed those steps and got these results: They were definitely better than the previous ones - not that those were bad at all, but still - The flexibility was improved as you can see in the photos, no cracks (except on) one side. The water helped in keeping the moisture of the dough, but it didn't have that greasy texture like the elderly lady’s recipe (which makes me think it's healthier but still I wanna get there!).
Next time I will put something that (will help keep) the moisture (in the dough) when cooking.”