1.20.2014

HOMEMADE SEEDED CRACKERS // liz


I wasn't sure I was going to share this recipe with you or not. Even though the crackers are delicious. Even though I made them with locally grown whole-wheat flour—hard red spring wheat, to be specific—from Fairwinds Farm in Bowdoinham. The thing is, I hadn't made them in a while, and to be honest, I'd forgotten what they actually look like. They're not exactly magazine-cover material, are they? 

It was my fishmonger son-in-law who saved the day. He was spending the night on his way up to the mountains for a ski weekend, and I'd just pulled the crackers out of the oven. We were hovering around the kitchen counter devouring them, but I was also fretting over what they looked like. "I think they're too ragtag for the blog," I lamented.  "Are you kidding?" said Alex. "We ate something that looked and tasted exactly like this at Fore Street in Portland last night." Well, OK, then! Back when Gourmet Magazine was in business, it ranked Fore Street number 16 in a list of the top 50 restaurants in the country. 

The dough for these crackers comes together in about 2 minutes. But then you need to roll the dough into a log, slice it, roll out and seed the crackers, carefully transfer them to a cookie sheet, and brush them with butter. It gets a little fussy, but not in a bad way—just in a don't-think-you're-gonna-do-this-in-10-minutes kind of way. It probably took me a good 45 minutes to make them.


If I had all the time in the world, I could have trimmed the crackers into tidy squares once I put them on the cookie sheet. But I don't have that kind of time. In fact, I have a monster pile of post-holiday editing sitting on my desk, and I need to get back to it. I'm sure you're busy too. So here's the recipe. If you can get your hands on some locally grown wheat, so much the better.

Happy cracker making!

HOMEMADE SEEDED CRACKERS

This recipe, with a few small changes, comes from my dog-earred 1976 copy of Laurel's Kitchen, where it's called "Crispy Seed Wafers." I recommend using the ground nuts, but note that they'll probably require you to use a little more water. I also recommend a few sheets of wax paper or parchment paper, which I find easier to use than a floured countertop once I start rolling out the crackers.

31/2 cup ground nuts (optional)
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter, divided
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons seeds: pretty much any seed, or mix of seeds, will do; I like to use equal parts poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and caraway seeds
sea salt and ground pepper (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix the dry ingredients together, including the nuts, then add 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, the water, and the vinegar. Mix thoroughly and then knead for a few minutes to form a stiff dough. If necessary, add a tiny bit more water if the dough is too dry, or a little more flour if it's too wet.

Shape your dough into a cylinder about 12 inches long (it will help if you oil your hands lightly) and place it on a sheet of wax paper. Using a good sharp knife, gently slice the roll into about 16 slices.

Now get another sheet of wax paper, for rolling out the crackers. Start by spreading about a teaspoon of seeds in a small circle on the paper. Press one slice of your dough firmly onto the seeds and, using a rolling pin, roll it into a paper-thin wafer. Sprinkle some more seeds on top of the wafer and roll these in too.

Once you have a few wafers ready, use a spatula with a good sharp edge to gently transfer them onto an un-greased cookie sheet. Brush lightly with melted butter. I like to add a quick grind of sea salt and sometimes pepper too. Bake 5–8 minutes—the exact time will depend on how thin your wafers are. The goal is to get them as well-baked (i.e., dry) as possible without burning them.

Repeat with the remaining dough. The crackers will keep at least a week in an airtight container. Be sure they're completely cool before storing, otherwise they won't stay crisp.

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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.