Friday, April 26, 2019

Gluten-Free Sheet-Pan Lahmajoun – and - Simit

My husband, Doug, and Aram Aslanian have been close friends for slightly over 60 years. That’s right , 60+ years! You might even consider them brothers.

Doug (L) and Aram hug as they meet in Yerevan, April 23, 2015

Despite living in different states, we manage to see each other as often as possible spending quality time while sharing homemade Armenian food and wonderful Armenian beverages (tahn, coffee, cognac, etc.).

Much to Aram’s dismay, he learned that he must follow a gluten free diet. So, when he and his wife Tricia visited us recently, he put me to the test. Aram’s wish was to learn how to make a gluten-free lahmajoun base, and possibly gluten-free choreg.

I didn’t accomplish the choreg request but managed to prepare the gluten-free lahmajoun, and, about 1 dozen simit using left-over dough from the lahmajoun.
Gluten-free Simit using left-over lahmajoun dough. After shaping dough, I brushed tops with beaten egg, sprinkled on sesame seeds, baked for 15-20 minutes at 350°F.

The dough recipe I used, which follows, was made by adapting a gluten-free dough recipe (for pizza) by katie.horgan.75
The meat topping recipe is at the bottom of the post.
Gluten-Free Sheet -Pan  Lahmajoun

Gluten-free Pizza (or Lahmajoun) Dough
Yield for Katie: 1-1/2 crusts, enough for 2 small-medium pizzas, or 1 large and 1 personal pan.
Yield for me: dough for one sheet pan crust and enough left-over dough to make simit

1 Tbsp yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water, divided
3 cups gluten free flour (which contains xanthan gum - check the ingredient list on the flour bag)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp sugar, divided
1 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl, combine yeast and 3/4 cup warm water (105° to 110°F). NOTE: Water that is hotter than that will kill the yeast. Cold water won’t properly activate the yeast. Let it rest for 5 minutes to activate. Stir in 1 Tbsp of the sugar after a few minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine gluten free flour, salt, baking powder and remaining 2 Tbsp sugar. Whisk until well combined.
Preparing the dough
Make a well in the dry mixture and add the yeast mixture. Add the olive oil and additional 1/2 cup warm water before stirring. Stir it all together until well combined, using a wooden spoon. (I used my stand mixer fitted with the dough hook to complete the task.) 
Dough pressed into the lightly greased sheet pan
Lightly coat a baking sheet with one-inch sides with non-stick spray. With your fingers press dough into the pan spreading it evenly. Ideally, the dough should be less than ¼” thick. It’s best to work from the center and push to flatten the dough out to the edge of the pan. 

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your fingers, dip them in some extra gluten-free flour.
Put the pan in the oven to pre-bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the dough begins to look dry. Cracks may appear, but that's typical.

Aram and I are getting ready to pop the tray of lahmajoun into the oven to complete baking. He's VERY excited!
Remove partially baked dough from oven and spread the lahmajoun topping evenly covering the dough’s surface. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the crust edge looks golden brown and the lahmajoun topping is completely cooked through. Once baked, allow lahmajoun to rest a few minutes before cutting.

To Serve: Cut into squares and serve with fresh parsley, sliced onions, lemon wedges and for good measure, a chopped salad.
Ready to serve

Wrap and refrigerate any leftovers. Leftover pieces can be reheated the next day,  preferably in the oven rather than in the microwave.

Aram’s Evaluation: He thought the lahmajoun and simit were amazing! I know the meat topping was good, as it was my tried-and-true recipe. Those of us not on a gluten-free diet weren’t as enthusiastic about the crust or simit as Aram was. It wasn’t so much the taste that was disagreeable, but the texture.

Next time Aram visits, we'll make lahmajoun using gluten-free tortillas. It’ll be a huge time-saver! 

Meat topping recipe for Lahmajoun
Lahmajoun topping
1 lb. ground lamb or beef (or a combination of the two) Note: Ground turkey may be substituted
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium red pepper, chopped
1/2 small green pepper, chopped
½ bunch parsley, washed well, stems removed, chopped
1 - 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained well
2 Tbsp. tomato paste or red pepper paste
1 to 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. dried mint
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. sweet paprika
dash cayenne pepper

1. To save time, process the onion, peppers, and parsley in a food processor, using the metal “S” blade. Squeeze out any excess liquid - this is VERY important! Be careful not to over-process. Vegetables should still be a bit chunky, not pureed. Note: If chopping by hand, be sure to finely chop the vegetables.

2. In a large bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients, mixing well.

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