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Crackers? They're a snap!

Easy-to-make whole wheat crackers wear seeds and spices with elan.

May 28, 2008|Peter Reinhart | Special to The Times

2. In a mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the seeds, flour, salt, honey and vegetable oil with three-fourths cup water. Mix by hand or in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment to form a firm ball of dough. It should not be sticky.

3. On a lightly-floured surface, knead the dough by hand for about 30 seconds to make sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed and that the dough holds together. It should be slightly tacky but not sticky. Add more whole-wheat flour or water, if needed.

4. Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Line three baking pans with parchment or a silicone baking liner. Divide the dough into three equal pieces. Set two of the pieces aside and roll out the remaining piece on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Roll it to less than one-eighth-inch thick, or nearly paper thin. Continually lift the dough as you roll it so that it doesn't stick to the surface; dust more flour under it if need be. You can also flip the dough over and continue rolling with the bottom side up. If the dough resists, lift it gently and set it aside and begin rolling out one of the other pieces. You can return to the first piece after a few minutes and it will roll more easily. Continue rolling out all three pieces in this manner.

5. Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut the rolled dough into rectangular or diamond-shaped crackers. (You can also use a small biscuit cutter, dipped in flour, to make round crackers.) The crackers do not need to be the same size. Carefully transfer the cut crackers to the baking pans. The pieces can be nearly touching, as the crackers will not spread or rise. Fill each pan as full as it will allow.

6. Combine the egg with one-half cup water. Brush the egg wash lightly over each of the crackers and top with sesame seeds.

7. If your oven has enough shelves to accommodate all the pans, you can bake them all at once. If not, bake them in shifts. After placing the pans in the oven, bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pans and bake for another 10 minutes. Make one final rotation and continue baking until they are done. (The thinner you roll them the faster they will bake -- they typically take about 25 to 30 minutes total, but this can vary from oven to oven.) The crackers will be a rich golden brown and should be fairly dry and crisp when they come out of the oven.

8. Leave them on the pans to cool; they will crisp up even more. If they do not snap cleanly after they cool, return the pan to the hot oven for a few more minutes. The crackers can be stored in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag and kept for at least 8 days at room temperature or indefinitely in the freezer.

Each of 6 dozen crackers: 32 calories; 1 gram protein; 4 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 2 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 3 mg. cholesterol; 26 mg. sodium.

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Nori's seaweed cracker

Total time: 1 1/2 hours, plus proofing time

Servings: Makes 8 large crackers

Note: Dough recipe adapted from Breadbar. Preparation and toppings by chef Noriyuki Sugie.

1 1/8 teaspoons active dry yeast (1/2 envelope)

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

1 1/2 generous cups (8 ounces) flour

1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup powdered nori (Japanese seaweed)

2 tablespoons shichimi powder (Japanese seven-spice mixture)

1/4 cup white sesame seeds, untoasted

1. In a medium bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the yeast, 1 cup of water and the sugar. Set aside in a warm place to proof for 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Stir 1 tablespoon olive oil in with the yeast mixture. Using your hands, or in a stand mixer with the hook attachment, stir in the flour and salt and knead until smooth, about 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. (The dough can be refrigerated overnight at this point before proceeding with the recipe.) Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

4. Place a baking stone or an upside-down cookie sheet in the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees.

5. Turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface. Flatten slightly and cut into eight pieces. While working with one piece, cover the remaining pieces so that they don't dry out.

6. Roll the dough out, one piece at a time, as thin as an index card (about 10 inches in diameter), flipping and flouring the dough as needed to prevent sticking. The dough doesn't have to be in any specific shape, but will cook most evenly if rolled into even rounds or rectangles.

7. With a fork, poke holes into each piece of dough every few inches and set each rolled sheet aside, loosely covered, as you work. When ready to bake, brush one side of the dough with a light coating of olive oil. Sprinkle the nori, shichimi powder and sesame seeds each on one-third of each piece of dough in stripes.

8. Bake each piece of dough, topping side up, on the hot stone or cookie sheet. Do not flip. If the dough bubbles up, poke each sheet with more holes. Bake about 10 minutes, depending on the oven and cooking surface, until each cracker is golden and crisp. Cool, then break into irregular shapes for serving.

Each cracker: 200 calories; 4 grams protein; 22 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 11 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 mg. cholesterol; 198 mg. sodium.

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