We never heard the word lavash outside Armenian circles until just a few years ago.
Now, it pops up everywhere from supermarket aisles to fast-food menus -- and it can have very different meanings.
Traditional Armenian cracker bread, crisp to the bite and mottled with brown bubbles, is a true staple that could sustain a traveler on a long journey or a family through an even longer winter. It seems to keep forever, and can be savored as is or softened with a drizzle of water or oil.
Yet somehow in America, it has shrunken and morphed into a mere appetizer, often with the texture of vinyl floor tiles. Equally odd is what's happened to the delicate, flaky soft version that Armenians not only eat with their meals but eat their meals with -- the perfect edible utensil that can be used to pick up meats or sop up stews.
But if most Americans recognize the word lavash at all, they picture a sandwich wrap that seems more closely related to a wheat tortilla, and most likely is just that.
Luckily, we know and love yet another version of lavash that is uncorrupted by commercial success. In fact, even most Armenians aren't aware of it.
This lavash combines the best of both traditional styles: Crisp and bubbled on top, soft and flaky in the middle. Be warned: It's rich, buttery -- and addictive.
It's also something of a family treasure, handed down by Doug's mother who learned it from her clan's master chef, Aunt Baidzar Doramajian.
We'd hate to see it turned into some sort of snack cracker, or worse. So please, let's keep this between us!
|Kalajian family Lavash|
8 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon salt
1 heaping Tablespoon baking powder**
2 Tablespoons sugar
½ LB. ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 cups warm water
1 egg mixed with a little water for egg wash
** Test the baking powder before using to make sure it is active. To do this, sprinkle a little baking powder in a half cup of water. The powder should begin to bubble and foam. If it doesn't, the baking powder should be discarded.
1. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Sift the salt, baking powder,
and sugar into the flour. Stir well.
2. Add the melted butter and MOST of the water.
|Step 4 -Lavash Dough|
4. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth.
5. Divide the dough into 5 or 6 balls.
|Step 5 - Divide the dough|
6. Roll one ball of dough at a time into a rectangle shape that will fit on a 16"x12" baking sheet.
|Step 6 - Roll dough into a thin rectangle|
7. Fold the rectangle-shaped dough into thirds, then in thirds again, creating a little bundle.
|Step 7A- Begin folding dough into thirds|
|Step 7D - Lavash bundles|
|Step 8 - Re-roll each bundle (This will create flaky layers.)|
9. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
10. Brush the surface with egg wash.
|Step 10- Egg wash|
11. Bake on the lower oven rack for about 15 minutes, or until bottom starts to brown.
12. Move the tray to the upper oven rack for about another 5 to 10, or until the top becomes a golden brown.
13. Remove from oven. Cool completely. Cut into 12 or 16 pieces.
14. Continue this process until all balls of dough have been shaped and baked. NOTE: The lavash will be chewy-crispy, rather than soft.
15. Store in an airtight container.
16. Serve lavash with cheese and fresh fruit.