Bread is a staple in the cuisines of many countries throughout the world and Iran is no exception. Persians love their flat breads. And one of the most popular and common types of bread in Iran is called lavash.
When freshly-baked, lavash can be relatively soft and easily foldable. At kabob restaurants, it is often the type of bread you get with your kabob because it is easy to wrap the meat with. But then lavash can also get quite crispy (which has a lot to do with the fact that the bread itself is so thin). That is why lavash crackers are so popular, because the crispiness of the bread lends itself well to use as a cracker.
I decided to try my hand at making lavash because I had seen the recipe in my new cookbook and thought it would be quite the challenge and quite the accomplishment if I could make it. Honestly, while the thought of making bread in general is already intimidating (hence the reason I do not do it very often), the thought of making nan seemed even more intimidating. But I bit the bullet and gave it a try and you know what? It really was not as difficult as I thought it would be. If you have ever rolled out a pie crust, then you are definitely more than half way there. :)
Lavash (recipe from Persian Cuisine: Book One (Traditional Foods) by M.R. Ghanoonparvar) *This book is my mom’s favorite Persian cuisine cookbook.
For 8-10 pieces of bread
1 TBSP of active dry yeast (1/2 of a packet)
1 cup of warm water
3/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP vegetable or olive oil
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
Extra flour for rolling dough
1. Mix your yeast and warm water and let the yeast dissolve. **If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook and want to use it, you can go ahead and start mixing everything in that bowl.
3. If you are going to be kneading the dough by hand, turn your dough out onto a floured surface and begin kneading the dough. If you are using a stand mixer, put your dough hook in and let the mixer begin kneading the dough. You will want to knead the dough for about 10 minutes no matter which way you choose to do it.
4. Once you are done kneading, form the dough into a round shape and place it in a bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside for about 2 hours (allowing the dough to rise).
5. After two hours, your dough will have expanded. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 8-10 pieces. Then preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
6. Once you have divided the dough, take one of the pieces and roll it into a small ball shape. Using your hand, flatten that piece of dough as much as you can on a floured surface. Then take a floured rolling pin and roll the dough out until it is extremely thin. **This will take a bit of work because the dough will naturally want to keep shrinking back to its original size but don’t give up…it will eventually stretch out.
8. Place the cookie sheet into the 500 degree oven for only 2-3 minutes. Two minutes in my oven gave me a bread that was soft without much crispiness. Two and one half minutes gave me a relatively soft bread with crispy edges. Three minutes created a mostly crispy bread. I preferred my bread at 2.5 minutes but feel free to make it as soft or as crispy as you like.
“Man lives for science as well as bread.” ~William James