Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Rye Crackers

I’ve been interested in making my own crackers for some time now but have had difficulty finding a recipe I liked. What I ended up with here is a combination of many recipes and a technique (using the food processor) that I apply to making graham crackers. The results are quite satisfying. I do think that they could withstand a bit of onion powder, if you like an onion rye flavour, and perhaps even a bit of coarse salt sprinkled atop before baking. When I make these again, I’ll roll them out much, much thinner-1/16 inch would be about perfect.

I prefer “rustic” looking crackers and breads, but if you are inclined, use a ruler to measure out squares and then use a pizza cutter to get a smooth looking cut. I tend to eyeball most things and if I’m using a paring knife for something else, I’ll wipe it off and use it for crackers-I don’t have a dishwasher and I’m not going to dirty another piece of cutlery without good reason.

You Will Need:

1 cup rye flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon dry cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons caraway seeds
½ cup water (you may need more)
1 tablespoon molasses

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of a food processor (or a large bowl if working by hand) combine the flours, cocoa and salt. Cut in the butter until you have a coarse meal. Add the caraway seeds. In a measuring cup, combine the water and molasses and add it slowly to the flour until the dough comes together in a ball (about 30 seconds at high speed. If it seems dry and there is quite a bit left in the bottom of the bowl that is crumbly and will not pick up, go ahead and add water-s-l-o-w-l-y. You only want it pliable.

Take about a third of the mixture and roll it out quite thin, keeping the other dough covered with a damp towel. I roll out dough on flexible plastic cutting boards that eliminate the need for extra flour when baking (they act as a sort of peel). After cutting the crackers on the same board, I pry them loose carefully with a very thin metal spatula. Again, this works well for me (I also use this technique for pie crusts) but if you decide to work on a counter or table, use enough flour to keep the dough from sticking. Place on a pan lined with silicone pads or parchment. I went ahead and punctured mine with a fork just to be certain they wouldn’t puff too much. Bake in the centre rack of the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until crisp and edges are browned. Keep an eye on them as they can burn quickly. Remove to racks where they will harden as they cool.

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