Baking for Bookworms: Lavash Bread from Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn

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Whenever I can, I like to pick dishes from the books that are filled with special significance, whether that means they’re mentioned at an important plot point, are helpful in understanding a character, or strengthen aspects of the setting. I try to find a dish that meets one of these criteria, but I think the lavash bread and quince chutney mentioned in the scene fulfill all three. The Middle Eastern bread and chutney reinforce the setting. We’re told that the dish has become one of Shahrzad’s favorites since entering the palace, giving us both a deeper understanding of her likes and dislikes as well as showing that she is gradually growing accustomed to her new home. And finally, the scene takes place at an important banquet, one where the former love of her life and her husband are in the same room and tensions are high:

“The air filled with the aroma of spices and the clamor of conversation. Shahrzad began with some lavash bread and quince chutney, which had quickly become of favorite of hers since she arrived at the palace. As she ate, she chanced another perusal of the room. Tariq was speaking with an older gentleman seated to his left. When he felt her eyes on him, Tariq turned his head, and Shahrzad was forced, yet again, to look away.”     252

So now that we’ve set the love triangle stage, let’s get baking!

Lavash is a flat, Middle Eastern bread made all over the region. It’s got very simple ingredients, and, for a bread, is pretty quick and easy. You can serve this bread with anything that suits your fancy including meat and vegetable dishes or just sauces for a snack. Similarly, you can also top it with anything that sounds tasty. Traditional garnishes include poppy and sesame seeds, but you can also use red onions, any herb you can think of, a little sea salt, minced garlic, or even cinnamon sugar for a sweet finish.

Lavash recipe adapted from Yellow Saffron’s video.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour (I used whole wheat), 200g
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Sift your flour over a medium-large bowl. Add salt, water, and olive oil. Knead briefly to combine all the ingredients into a soft, smooth dough (about 2 minutes).

Lightly oil the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

After thirty minutes, it’s time to fold the dough to develop the gluten. Pull a corner of the dough out from the main ball and fold it into the center. Repeat this eight times, working all the way around the dough. Then flip it over and tuck the edges in so it forms a nice smooth ball shape. There’s no need to be exact about this last step, as the dough shouldn’t be worked too much.

Cover the dough again and leave to rise for another 30 minutes.Repeat the process as before, pulling and tucking corners of the dough eight times. Cover again and leave to rise for the last 30 minutes.

When the 30 minutes are up, preheat the oven to 430F and preheat your baking tray as well.

Split the dough into three pieces. Take out one piece, and leave the rest covered so that they stay moist. With the first piece either stretch or roll it into a very thin rectangle, the thinner the better. Place on a piece of parchment paper and add any toppings you like (parchment paper is oven safe, but it isn’t mean to go much higher than a 420F oven. Make sure you watch the paper to be sure it doesn’t burn…). Slide onto the preheated tray.

Bake for 3-6 minutes, depending on the thickness of the dough. The edges will get browned and bubbles will develop.

Remove to a cooling rack (the bread will get crispier as it cools), and repeat the process with the two remaining pieces of bread.

Serve with a fun sauce or with a meal and enjoy!

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books Being Released in 2016 I’m Eager to Read

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I have enough books on my TBR to fill years and years (and years and years) of reading without ever looking at a new release. Most new releases I find in the similarly titled section of the library. There are very few if any books that I look forward to and buy immediately (or even read immediately) before their release, so I was helped out by this accommodating list on Goodreads of upcoming fiction releases for 2016. I only picked the first 8 that seemed intriguing, but there are plenty more I will be adding to my already long TBR list (the links go back to Goodreads).

  • The Rose and the Dagger Renee Ahdieh–I think I’ve made it quite clear how much I’m looking forward to this book and the continuing series
  • The Winds of Winter George RR Martin–the release date has not been sent, but this rumored release is my most anticipated
  • The Longest Night Andria Williams–historical fiction about the story of a marriage, plus it’s set in Idaho, and that’s something I pay attention to now
  • A Doubter’s Almanac Ethan Canin–genius, jealousy, and a family saga set in California–there’s not much more you can ask for
  • The Flood Girls Richard Fifield–this looks fun and witty
  • My Name is Lucy Barton Elizabeth Strout–it might make me cry, but I think it’ll be worth it
  • The Portable Veblen Elizabeth McKenzie–two people on the brink of marriage in Palo Alto, and it all goes downhill from there
  • Relativity Antonia Hayes—a gifted boy has to navigate dealing with his parents
  • The Queen of the Night Alexander Chee–a mystery wrapped up in an Opera house
  • At The Edge of the Orchard Tracy Chevalier–historical fiction about apple orchards back east and the California gold rush

 

Is there a book you’re looking forward to reading next year  (whatever it’s release date)?

Top Ten Tuesday: Great Quotes from Books I Read this Year

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic was to pick some of our favorite quotes from books we’ve read this year. So I went back through some of the books I read this year, and here’s what I came up with. Some books were hard to find quotes for, and others jumped out. It only made sense that all the quotes turned out to be about books/words/writing/stories. The first was an accident, the second was inevitable, and the third quote sealed the deal.

  • From George Eliot’s The Lifted Veil “We learn words by rote, but not their meaning; that must be paid for with our life-blood, and printed in the subtle fibres of our nerves.” 
  • From Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry “You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the questionWhat is your favorite book?” 
  • From Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah “Why did people ask “What is it about?” as if a novel had to be about only one thing.”
  • From Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society “Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true.”
  • From Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea “Of course reading and thinking are important but, my God, food is important too.”
  • From Donna Tartt’s  The Secret History “I suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.”
  • From Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.”
  • From Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn “After all, every story has a story.”
  • From Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens “No one can tell a story without transforming it in some way; it is part of the magic of storytelling. Like the troubadors of the past, who hid their messages in poems, songs and fairy tales, I too would hide my true purpose [ … ]
    It was by telling stories that I would save myself.”
  • From Malala Yousafzai’s I Am Malala “Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons.” 

 

I haven’t written up reviews on a couple of these, but those will be forthcoming, I promise.

Do you have a favorite quote about the power of words? Put that quote in the comments.