Week Eight: Crackers
Yesterday, I mentioned that there are some cracker recipes out there that are insanely easy to make. This is another one of those recipes. It comes together in a flash, and if you have a pasta machine, takes hardly any time to roll out. (Plus, I’ve always liked using a pasta roller. It’s kind of fun!)
These crackers are redolent with seeds in the best possible way, so you’d better like what you put in them. I love poppy seeds, so in they went. And white and black sesame seeds look so pretty together, I just had to use them both. (You can find black sesame seeds at a natural foods grocery store, or at an Asian market.) I added a sprinkle of cumin just to give it a little background smokiness, but not so much that it would overwhelm the other flavors – a little cumin goes a long way! With a little flaxseed for nutiness to complement the whole wheat flour, and give it a little extra nutrition, I had a cracker that was full-flavored and hearty, but that could still be rolled thin enough to be delicate.
The easiest way to roll these out, of course, is with a pasta roller. But if you don’t have one, it’s no problem. They’ll still roll out very easily by hand. And if you don’t have a rolling pin, you know you can always use an empty wine bottle!
I had these crackers for lunch yesterday with some lovely tuna salad, and they were an excellent match. They would of course also be perfect for a full-flavored cheese platter, featuring such robust examples as Parmigiano Reggiano, a creamy blue cheese, smoked Gouda (anything smoked, actually), or an aged extra-sharp cheddar. Pair that with some port, or a full-bodied red, and I’d be in heaven!
Adapted from Alton Brown
5 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 1 cup + 2 tablespoons)
4 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup + 1 tablespoon), plus additional for rolling
1/4 cup poppy seeds
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 1/2 ounces water (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons)
1. In a medium bowl whisk together both flours, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, salt, and baking powder. Add the oil and stir until combined. Add the water and stir to combine and create a dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead 4 to 5 times. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, cover with a tea towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
3. For a thin snacking cracker: On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 piece of dough to 1/16-inch and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. If there is room on the sheet pan, repeat with a second piece of dough. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 4 minutes then flip and bake for an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. When cool, break into desired size pieces. Repeat procedure with remaining dough.
3. For a thicker dipping cracker: On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough as above but to 1/8-inch thick. Bake for 6 minutes on the first side, then flip and bake another 4 to 6 minutes.
4. For super even thickness and easy rolling: Roll out using a lightly floured pasta roller. Flatten the dough until it will pass through the first setting and go to the highest number that your pasta roller will allow without tearing the dough. Bake according to the thin cracker instructions.
1. Baking times will vary depending on exact thickness of dough and oven temperature, so watch them closely. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
2. Feel free to cut them into pieces with a pizza cutter before baking, but they will cook more evenly if you can flip them. This is obviously easier if you leave it in one big piece.
3. The recipe calls for aluminum-free baking powder, which may be a healthier choice, or maybe not, depending on who you listen to. I, however, used regular baking powder, and it was just fine. You’ll certainly want to use double-acting baking powder, though, no matter if there’s aluminum or not; since the dough has to rest before it’s baked.