Tuesday, September 16, 2014

‘The Great Lahmajoun Dough Experiment’ has begun!

In case you missed reading about the purpose of The Great Lahmajoun Dough Experiment, please click here.

I sent Mike Minassian four lahmajoun dough recipes, and his first attempt was based on one from the cookbook, ‘Simply Armenian’ by Barbara Ghazarian. Since Mike has made lahmajoun before, I suggested he use his own recipe for the meat-vegetable topping, which he did. All photos are courtesy of Mike Minassian.

Final Product: Lahmajoun #1, rolled and ready to eat!
Dough recipe #1: From the cookbook, ‘Simply Armenian’ by Barbara Ghazarian
Yields 12 lahmajouns
This one uses olive oil.

1 package (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water (about 105°F to 110° F)
1 Tablespoon (Tbsp.) olive oil, plus more for greasing the bowl and baking sheets
½ teaspoon (tsp.) sugar
¼ tsp. salt
2 ¼ cups white bread flour, plus more for rolling (I suggested that perhaps the bread flour makes a difference from recipes which use all-purpose flour.)

1.Dissolve the yeast in water in the bowl of a tabletop (stand) mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Stir in 1 Tbsp. olive oil, sugar, salt, and 1 ½ cups flour.
2. Mix the dough until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining flour and mix until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes by machine. (If this part is done by hand, it will take about 20 minutes.)
3. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a large bowl greased with olive oil. Turn the ball once to coat it completely with oil. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let stand in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.
4. Place dough into a floured work surface and punch it down. Knead the dough into the shape of a log. Cut log into 12 equal pieces, then roll each piece into a 7-inch circle.

Mike’s comments and photos for Experiment #1:
                 Here's my first attempt of making "the best dough ever". In this recipe I used the recipe from the cookbook "Simply Armenian". I made a few modifications: I added 1 Tbsp. butter, and for the baking sheets, instead of using oil I used flour (the same I used for the dough). I made this because the elderly lady (the woman who´s lahmeyouns are great) seems to do it this way. After I mixed the dough until smooth and elastic I put it in a bowl, covered with a plastic bag and then a kitchen towel on top (see pictures "dough 1" and "dough 2"). 
Dough 1
Dough 2

This time I also took photos of the topping, just for you to know how I made it.

Topping photo #1
 I used 500 gr. (about 1.2 lbs.) beef minced (I'm sorry if I use metric measures sometimes). 2 onions and 2 tomatoes finely chopped, actually I rather like to process them. Some parsley also chopped. Also added 1/4 of a roasted red bell pepper (I made this some weeks ago). At this point I should mention to you that the Armenians here in Argentina, at least in Cordoba, use tomatoes for the topping instead of peppers, though I like to add some to my recipe. 

Topping photo #2
Seasonings for the topping
The spices I used include salt, paprika, ground chili, tricolor pepper, chemen (or fenugreek), and hot chili powder. I mixed everything with my hands, and then processed all. I do this because I like the topping to stick together after I cook it. For this I also add a tbsp. of white vinegar (apple vinegar). After everything is processed I added the juice of one lemon and let it stand for an hour in the fridge. This amount of topping is enough for making a bit more than 2 dozens, so I just used half of it this time, and saved the rest for next time.

Ready to bake
After the dough doubled its size I made the little balls and shape them into disks, put them on the baking sheet (previously covered with flour), added the topping on, and into the oven 250°C - about 475°F - (very hot) for about 10 minutes. That´s it.
Baked, stacked, and ready to serve!
Conclusion: They were good enough, the dough wasn't that crispy, I could roll them just fine, though at some point I could see some cracks in the folding and the borders were a little crispy.  I think I can make them a bit thinner, since the baking made them thicker than I expected. They were not as greasy as the Lady's lahmejouns, but they were good anyway. Next weekend I'll try a different (dough recipe), probably with some new additions that improves flexibility. 

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