Lavash - Pastries


* 1 pk Yeast
* 2 c Warm water
* 2 tb Sugar
* 5 1/2 c All purpose flour
* 2 ts Salt


Lightly oil a bowl for the dough. Mix the yeast water and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour and salt and mix until it forms a well-blended but somewhat soft dough. (resist the temptation to work in any more flour than absolutely necessary.) Knead the dough by hand or machine. If by hand turn it out on a floured board and work it until it is smooth and elastic approximately 10 minutes. If using a dough hook on an electric mixer knead the dough at the slowest speed for about 5 minutes. Pat the dough into a ball and put it in the oiled bowl. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and set it in a warm draft-free place to rise until the dough has doubled in bulk about 30 to 40 minutes. (A perfect place is a gas oven with its slight heat given off by the pilot light; an electric oven turned on low for no more than 2 minutes then turned off works equally well.) When the dough has doubled turn it out on a floured board punch it down and knead it again until there is no air left in it. Divide the dough into 8 round mounds place them on the board cover again with a towel and let rise until almost doubled about 30-minutes. While the dough is rising preheat the oven to 450F. Position a rack as close as possible to the oven bottom. Flour a 12x15-in baking sheet. When the 8 mounds of dough have risen roll them out one piece at a time into rectangles about 12x15 inches (the size of a standard sheet pan) and about as thin as for a pizza. Puncture the entire surface at 1/2-inch intervals with the tines of a roasting fork. Bake the breads one at a time for 6 to 8 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned. Remove each finished bread to a wire rack to cool and continue baking the remaining breads until all 8 are finished. During the baking if any large bubbles start to puff up puncture them immediately with a fork. The bread in the Middle East is traditionally a type of cracker bread called lavash (lawasha in Assyrian). This flat leavened bread is available in grocery stores and specialty markets and can be eaten as a cracker in the dry crisp form in which it comes. However to serve along with a meal it is preferable to dampen it so that it becomes more breadlike. Moisten the lavash one cracker at a time under cold running water making sure that both sides are completely wet; place in a plastic bag for 3 hours at the end of which time the bread will be pliable and chewy. Lavash prepared in this fashion is also used for Aram sandwiches. In the old country a lavash bread would bake in a clay bottomed oven in 2 to 3 minutes. You can get much the same result baking on a ceramic baking tile or directly on the floor of a gas oven.

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