Sesame and Seed Crackers
The neighborhood health shop, called a magasin bio in French, has some really great stuff. I was there just the other day to score some organic pineapple juice. It's funny how hard we have to look when we just want something plain and simple, without added sugar. I found the juice and also picked up this bag of crackers, rather expensive, but full of nice seeds and things. They were really delicious. Amazing, actually. Just munching on these crackers had me thinking of getting back into cracker making and creating a facsimile of these great but expensive crackers. Lo and behold, Heidi Swanson transmitted the message to encourage us to make crackers at home. It's a must now!
Sunflower, flax, sesame, poppy, hemp, toasted quinoa... I especially love the flavor of toasted sesame, so in went a nice dose of gomashio. The ingredients for one batch of flavorful nutty crackers fits in a jar. You can pre-measure and have it ready just to add water.
1 cup of hard semolina flour
1 cup of organic whole wheat flour (I used T80, aka bise)
1/2 cup gomashio, which consists of ground grilled sesame and salt (You can find it at any shop that sells Japanese goods and also at the health shop, since it is a staple in macrobiotic diets)
1/2 cup mixed nuts and seeds like poppy, flax, sesame, sunflower, toasted quinoa, etc.
1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
to this, add:
3/4 cup of water, adding as much as 1/4 cup depending on the texture of the dough.
Depending on your source for the flours, you may need to adjust the ingredients for moisture content. Just remember that it's the semolina flour that gives these crackers that wonderful crunch, and never overshadows the flavor of your additions. If you have to add dry ingredients, add more hard semolina flour and not the ww flour.
The pasta roller really is the best way to get nice thin crisp crackers. The one main rule, when making crackers, is to knead the heck out of the dough, just like when you make pasta. The dough has to be kneaded so long that the gluten fibers in the wheat coil around one another and get so entangled that it becomes stretchy and pliable and won't split when flattened through the press. I used to do this quite well in the moulinex food processor using the plastic dough blade, and now just use the dough hook with the Kitchenaid. The dough will stiffen and resist, and then, all at once, it will suddenly give way and soften up. When do you know it's done? It's done when the dough is warm, not sticky to the touch, and when you pinch it, it flattens out between two fingers and won't split at the edges. Let the dough rest for a good half an hour before rolling through the pasta roller.
Although there's something about perfect square crackers that used to really float my boat, I love Heidi's method of sending the little morsels through and creating elongated oval crackers. To do this, cut the dough into pieces about the size of walnuts or robin's eggs & send them through starting with the widest setting and getting progressively thinner until they're the thickness you like. Once you've got a nice size, you'll get into a rhythm and they'll be done in no time.
Today, I tried adding more seeds to the finished crackers, but found that they didn't stick unless I rolled the added seeds one more time through the press. It worked pretty well. Next time I won't use sunflower seeds because they got caught in the pasta press from time to time.
Bake them for 8 to 10 minutes at 400F/200C. They should be brown around the edges when they're done.
I find that these crackers have so much toasty goodness in the form of the natural oils from the seeds that I don't need to add any oil. In the past I have added herbs, cheese, spice mixes like assorted peppercorns, directly to the dough. Anything that tastes good toasted is good toasted in crackers.
Thanks Heidi, for the inspiration!
Labels: Winter 07-08