Sunday, January 27, 2008

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!



Blogger Kate Hill said...

I made Heidi's crackers today, too! and being shamelessly seedless, I sprinkled a mixture of quatre-epice (cinnamon, ginger, clove and nutmeg)and salt- the last batch I sprinkled with brown sugar but I should have read David L's post first! Ahhh, great minds....

7:58 PM, January 27, 2008  
Blogger Tace said...

OH wow!!!! I love happy coincidences, I've been wanting to make homemade crackers for a little while now. I've made them before but it was lonnnnnnnnng ago. These look amazing, seriously beautiful crackers! I can't wait to make my own!
That last photo...wowsers. absolutely beautiful!

1:21 AM, January 28, 2008  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Leave it up to Kate to make more than one batch!

Tace, it's time to get back to the crackers, don't you think?

I would like to note that these crackers are incredible with peanut butter on them.

6:05 PM, January 28, 2008  
Blogger winedeb said...

I have been into hummus on crackers lately and now you have inspired me to, MAYBE, make my own!
Yours look great!

11:45 PM, January 28, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those are absolutely gorgeous crackers. I can practically taste them, and more than that, half of their appeal is in that fantastic SHAPE! Beautifully done.

5:19 AM, January 29, 2008  
Blogger Katie Zeller said...

Wow! I love this! I never thought of using the pasta roller to make crackers... I think my brain must still be on holiday!

9:40 PM, January 29, 2008  
Blogger Babeth said...

whouhahou lovely crackers! I bookmarked as well Heidi's recipe but haven't have the time to make those.

2:03 PM, January 31, 2008  
Blogger Annina said...

Hey! How are you?
My name is Annina (also called Ann) and I saw your blog on daring bakers and like it very much! I'm also a newbie there... and ya.. I added your blog to my link on my one:
Have a good evening!
Greetings from Switzerland, Annina

11:12 PM, February 02, 2008  
Blogger Jocelyn:McAuliflower said...

Those look stellar! I really like how your photos came out too.

(and I just bookmarked your entry as my reminder0 funny how that inspiration flies around!)

6:58 AM, February 03, 2008  
Blogger Jann said...

This ia such a gorgeous photograph and the cracker looks incredibly delicious~

7:35 PM, February 08, 2008  

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