Ming says: At the restaurant, we get tons of requests for this recipe, which is the basis of our much-loved house crackers. But this easily made, garlic and spice-spiked dough also produces great scallion pancakes and other treats, depending on how the dough is rolled and what's added to it. It also keeps beautifully: freeze it in quarter- or half-pound quantities in airtight plastic bags, defrost it at room temperature, and you can fix the kind of baked specialties that make a meal.
You can make the dough by hand if you like, but it's way easier to use a standard mixer with a dough hook.... Read more.
Using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, grind the cumin, coriander, fennel, and peppercorns and combine them in a medium bowl.
In a 5-quart mixer bowl, or very large bowl if working by hand, combine in this order the yeast, 2 1/2 cups cold water, the flour, oil, garlic, and salt.
Using a dough hook, mix at low speed until the flour's gluten is fully developed and the dough is smooth and doesn't tear easily when stretched, about 15 minutes.
Remove the dough from the machine and knead in the spices.
If working by hand, combine the yeast, flour, oil, and salt and mound the mixture on a work surface.
With your fingers, make a well in the mixture.
Add 2 1/2 cups cold water to the well and, working with a pastry scraper or large fork, gradually incorporate the flour into the water, as if you were making fresh pasta.
Work the dough into a rough ball and then knead in the garlic and the spice mixture.
Continue to knead until the dough becomes smooth, 10 to 12 minutes.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap.
If using immediately, allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Otherwise, refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. Lasts about 1 week, tightly wrapped and refrigerated, 3 to 4 weeks frozen.
Use the dough to wrap miniature franks for superior pigs in a blanket. The dough makes a great pizza crust. Roll it into a 14- to 12-inch-thick circle and proceed as you normally do when preparing pizza. For a great hors d'oeuvre, cut the dough into 2 by 14-inch sticks, deep-fry them, and pass the sticks with your favorite tomato or pesto dip.
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