Thursday, April 30, 2020

Crackers? Crackers!

Crackers are not something that I thought I'd ever get excited about. They mostly serve as a way of getting something else delicious, cheese or spread or dip, to your mouth without filling you up as much as bread. But I am now excited about crackers.

When growing a sourdough culture there's a decent quantity of what's called "discard," the bubbly starter that you remove before you feed the remainder and maybe, in times of plenty, people threw the stuff away. But when flour is in short supply and gluten free flours are absurdly expensive, you better believe that that stuff is not going in the trash. There are all kinds of recipes out there to use up sourdough discard; pancakes are by far the most popular way to use it up but people chuck it in everything: muffins, crumpets, even cakes. My favorite thing to do with it is make crackers.

I might not be quite so motivated if I was eating wheat right now because there's a good selection of high quality, affordable, wheat-based crackers, even in stores where the shelves of beans and pasta have been wiped out. There's really only one type of gluten-free cracker that I like (thankfully it's one of my favorite crackers with or without wheat). These babies:

But they are expensive and lots of regular supermarkets don't carry them. So my motivation was high to try and make my own crackers and the results make me almost as pleased as the almond flour chocolate chip cookie recipe I recently shared.

Behold, the sourdough discard cracker:
This batch was made with a sourdough starter which was primarily brown rice flour and I added some nigella seeds for their mild, onion flavor. 

The next batch of crackers happened a week or so later, and by then I'd switched to feeding my sourdough starter quinoa and teff flour (which it loooooves: bubbles right up and almost coos with happiness) so the resulting cracker is more multi-grain and toasty tasting. I mixed in nigella seeds again (of which I am inordinately fond: you can buy them here) and some black pepper.
Sturdy enough to make an excellent hummus delivery device

These are so good that I'm going to be feeding my sourdough more often than it really needs it just so I have an excuse to scoop out a 1/2 C of "discard" to keep myself supplied with crackers.

Sourdough discard crackers

1/2 C sourdough discard (regular or GF)
1/2 C flour (AP or a GF flour mix that has some xanthan gum, or use a different gf flour and add about 1/4 t xanthan gum for each 1/2 C of flour)
1.5 T olive oil
1/4 t salt
(optional) 2 t seeds of your choice (sesame, nigella, poppy, caraway, cumin or a mix)
(optional) 1/4 t dried herbs or spices of your choice (rosemary, black pepper, herbs de provence)

Mix everything together until it forms a ball, add additional flour or water by the tablespoon to get the right roll-able consistency (some starters are very wet and others are drier so start with equal quantities of starter and flour and then adjust accordingly.)

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 350.

Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces.

Put down a sheet of parchment paper and dust lightly with AP or rice flour, roll out two pieces of dough directly on the parchment, getting it as thin as you can/as thin as you like. Slide the parchment onto a baking sheet. Get out another piece of parchment and do the same thing with the last two pieces of dough.

You can score the dough lightly with a knife or pizza cutter if you want the pieces to break apart evenly, or leave them un-scored for rustic crackers.

Brush the dough with water and a little sprinkle of flaky sea salt, if you have it. Regular salt is fine too, just use a light hand, or leave it off.

Bake for about 15 minutes--time will vary depending on how thin you rolled your crackers and how toasty you like them. Flip and bake the other side for about 5 minutes (unless they are done enough for you already). If they are still a little doughy, put back in for another 5 minutes.

Break into pieces and when cool, store in an airtight bag or container.


Valerie said...

The rule of thumb for xanthan gum is 1/2 teaspoonful per cup. So for half a cup of gluten-free flour, I would start with 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum or guar gum.

Your sourdough crackers look amazing!!!!!

Kate said...

Thank you Valerie! That's super helpful info! I'll update the recipe.