Thursday, January 1, 2009

Crazy for Crackers

Confession: I've been making homemade crackers since my kids were little. It was not because I was a devoted Martha acolyte, it was simply because I didn't want to wrangle three kids aged four and under in snowsuits to go to the grocery store. (The memory still haunts me.)

At that time, I used a recipe from the FOOD THAT REALLY SCHMECKS series by Edna Staebler. It was really easy, and they tasted better than anything in the store, so I made them for years. But then I got lazy and started buying these lavash crackers, which are delicious but expensive considering how fast my now-grown kids hoover them up. Recently, I saw this recipe for spelt crackers in the NYT mag, so I'm back to making them again. Unlike Edna's, these are 100% no-fat and healthy. You control how much salt goes on them and what add-ons you want on top. Don't be afraid. All you need is a rolling pin and the guts to face your friends when they mock you for doing what you're about to do.

Spelt Crackers

1/2 cup cold water
1/4 tsp table salt
1 1/2 cups wholegrain spelt flour (sold in the organic section, usually)

Put the water and salt in a small bowl and stir to dissolve. Fluff the flour before measuring because it's really dense, then stir it into the water. Dump it on a floured counter and knead it a bit, just enough to stick together. Either place the dough on an inverted 12" x 17" cookie sheet which you've spread with a bit of flour and roll it directly on the back on the back of the pan, or roll it on the floured counter, then fold and lift it back on the sheet. It will end up being the size of the pan, edge to edge. Brush off any excess flour. Spray it with water or pat water onto it with your hands (which allows the seeds to stick) then prick all over with a fork. Score with a pizza wheel so the crackers come out in pieces.

Now you get to be creative. Sprinkle the dough with - flaked sea salt, sesame seeds (I use a jar of the roasted black/white seeds found in the sushi department,) caraway seeds, garlic powder, fennel seeds, black cumin seeds, Cajun spice - basically whatever makes your toes curl.

Bake at 350F until dough is crisp and golden, 15 - 25 minutes, but check after 10 minutes to make sure they don't overcook.

Be prepared to make these over and over until your arms fall off.

Happy New Year everyone!

If you want to see a video of these being made, go HERE


Anonymous said...

Hey, what a coincidence! I've had Edna Staebler's "Pies and Tarts with Schmecks Appeal" and "Soups and Salads with Schmecks Appeal" cookbooks for YEARS! She likes her neighbour's 'schnitz', dried apples, a LOT! I never knew she made her own crackers though. In fact, that's one item I would NEVER have thought about making myself. Well, until I was introduced to Lesley Stowe's Raincoast Crisps last summer. They make the most wonderful rosemary raisin pecan crackers and cranberry hazelnut crackers, but they're $6.99 a box and that's just WAY too much! So, I'm going to try your recipe and add my own additions. Thanks for sharing it. And p.s. I always toast my sesame seeds before eating. I didn't know you could buy them pre-toasted.

A Novel Woman said...

Dahling, you can buy a huge canister of black/white sesame seeds for about 3 buckaroos in the sushi section of any supermarket like Loblaws. I use them in the crab rolls I made at the camera club party. I just saw them yesterday at Metro Plus in the Pointe Claire Plaza.

Now, I suppose you can use regular whole wheat flour instead of spelt, but the recipe here is yummy. Just make sure the crackers are dry and crispy in the middle. Sometimes the middle is chewy if they don't cook long enough. And I use a flaked Cyprus sea salt on mine, but I didn't write that in because it sounds pretentious. Just don't put any oil on them. These are meant to be fat free.

BB said...

Sounds easy and great... but where are your fabulous photos (a la Ree!) Jeanie and I tried her cinnamon rolls the other day and photographed it... not sure the world is ready for our version yet!!

Debby said...

Looks easy enough.

A Novel Woman said...

BB, you want I should take pictures, now? In my messy kitchen? That's a little too real. I suppose I could.

Yesterday I made corn chowder and a braided egg bread. That would have been fun to photograph because you get to play with the dough. It looks spectacular when it's done, and a lot more complicated than it really is.

And yes, Debby, the crackers are easy peasy. You can't get any more basic than flour, water and salt!