Lavash is a glorious bread from Turkey and Armenia. Often made with sesame seeds, but in the US, also made with pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and sunflower seeds or plain. Simple, crunchy and never filling, this is the perfect recipe for bread served in restaurants.

Lavash
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breads and Rolls
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 package yeast
  • 2 Cups warm water
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 5 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
Instructions
  1. Lightly oil a bowl for the dough.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
Notes
The bread in the Middle East is tradionally 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.

From MONDAY NIGHT AT NARSAI'S, by Narsai M David and Doris Muscatine. New York: SIMON & SCHUSTER, 1987

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