Saturday, January 19, 2008

Take a Cracker at This

When I get home from work in the afternoon, I usually feel a little peckish, wanting to snack on a little smackerel of something before I start dinner. Of late, though, I haven't had much on hand to fill that need aside from a bag of pistachios.

That's why I thought I'd better make some crackers this weekend.

It's been a while since I pulled out any of my cracker recipes, but since I also hope to make a pot of spicy soup later, it seemed the perfect thing to make this morning. And though I had vaguely remembered having a potato and herb cracker recipe around, I couldn't find it and decided to make sesame crackers instead.

Now, I've had a few people ask me why I would put the time into making crackers (or pasta) when it's so easy to find organic or whole grain varieties at the store now for relatively little money.

And I would say: Have you seen what's in those store-bought crackers? Almost all the selections now offered contain partially hydrogenated oils, preservatives, and a host of other things I don't know much about... not to mention more sodium than is necessary.

These crackers have six ingredients: unbleached flour, whole wheat flour (the sole local ingredient), salt, toasted sesame seeds, toasted sesame oil, and water. That's it. And though I haven't figured out the cost, I'm pretty sure it's a good deal less than I can find at the store.

Besides, they're not that hard to make!

Like pasta dough, cracker dough pulls together fairly quickly with just a little kneading at the end to get all the crumbs incorporated.

Then you roll it out, cut out the crackers, and arrange them on parchment-covered baking sheets and bake. Really. It's that simple.

And frankly, buying a box of crackers can't offer me the most important thing: the fragrance of the crackers as they bake and get toasty. Heavenly!

I think I'll be able to snack on these for some time to come as they're substantial enough to fill me up quickly, though I may have to make haydari or some other yogurt-based dip to enjoy with them later today.

Wouldn't you like to take a cracker at them, too?

Sesame Crackers

This recipe comes from The King Arthur Flour Baking Companion, with very few changes. I am very fond of sesame crackers, especially to serve with cheese and cucumbers. (The cookbook indicates that these would also be very good with hummus, but I like them with other dips, too.) You can use regular canola oil instead if you prefer a milder cracker, and that would make these crackers then be a great accompaniment for other soups and dishes.

1/2 c sesame seeds
1 c unbleached flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2 T toasted sesame oil
2 T canola oil
1/2 to 3/4 c cold water

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool.

In large bowl, whisk together seeds, flours, and salt. Add the oils, stirring until the mixture creates large lumps, then add enough water to pull the dough together without crumbling.

Divide the dough into two pieces and roll it, one piece at a time, until it's about 1/8" thick. Cut dough into squares (or other shapes; experiment!) and transfer crackers to lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake crackers 25-30 minutes or until they're beginning to brown around the edges. (I like mine a touch more brown all around to enhance the sesame flavor; but be careful not to let them scorch!) Remove crackers from the oven and cool completely on wire rack. Store in airtight containers.

Makes about 6 dozen crackers


At 1/20/2008 9:53 PM, Blogger foodperson said...

Ahem. Recipe?

At 1/22/2008 7:25 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Better, Janet? :-)

At 1/22/2008 10:01 PM, Blogger Bri said...

These look so great Jennifer! In about a month I will have to completely fast from salt for about 5 weeks, so not that I eat much packaged stuff, but all packaged things will be out. So...if I just omit the salt, I can totally have crackers! Thanks for the recipe. I love sesame seeds too. I'll have to make up a batch soon to enjoy with a good soup. Yum!

At 1/23/2008 7:26 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

You might even try adding dried herbs instead, Bri, because without salt these might feel like they're missing... something. Maybe dried chives or ginger if you're going for an Asian flavor?

I should try these with flax seeds sometime, too. Hmmmmmm.....

At 1/25/2008 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peckish is a synonym for ravenously starving.

At 1/26/2008 8:44 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Pecky, pecky!


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