Baking | Crazy for Crackers … Seedy times with the Daring Bakers!

“You see things and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were and I say ‘Why not?’”
George Bernard Shaw

Seedy CrispsIt’s been a cracker of a July! I crept silently into Daring Bakers on the 2nd of July dreading what I would see. We’ve had the worse summer ever, the hottest, coupled with extended power cuts and monsoons that threaten to fail. Imagine my delight at seeing crackers … just perfect for the season. I had a go at two of the four recipes – Seedy Crisps {ah-mazing} and Health Crackers which were good too, maybe too healthy, but nice with cheese and onion jam!Crackers

Our July 2012 Daring Bakers’ Host was Dana McFarland and she challenged us to make homemade crackers! Dana showed us some techniques for making crackers and encouraged to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love.

Seedy crisps Seedy Crisps Delicious, light, addictive, versatile and simple to make, crackers can’t get better than this. I love baking savoury crackers; to date my favourite were Ottolenghis Olive Oil Crackers. These Seedy Crisps are now vying for top place!Seedy Crisps It was time to get a little creative as the dough was very simple to roll out. It rolls out really thin so I stamped out some fluted circles from the well behaved dough and baked a batch in my shallow tart tray. I was thrilled to see how well they came out, bite sized and perfect.Seedy Crisps for CanapesThe good thing is that these seedy crisps for canapes are make ahead, healthy and a great discovery! This was the part of the challenge I loved most, the gentle nudge that Dana gave us towards getting creative! The little canapes filled with a creamy cheesy chicken topping stole my heart!Seedy Crisps for Canapes Beautiful little bites! Dress them up as you like … fill ‘em up with a light chicken filling, or caramelised onion jam with blue cheese, maybe a mushroom – red onion olive oil filling, a salsa {peach, tomato, mango} … or get more adventurous and use seasonal fresh fruit and cheese. The pooch was uber delighted to get the little baked leftovers and came out of her bowl covered with sesame and poppy seeds. She is still as naughty as she is charming! I didn’t get a seedy picture coz by the time I grabbed my camera, Coco had made a meal of every last crumb! Crackers!!Red HarissaI used the red harissa which I made recently in the chicken topping and tomato salsa. I served some crackers with the Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam I make often … good choices for both these crackers.Healthy Crackers I have included the remaining two recipes below and will attempt try them soon. Our talented host Dana hasn’t entered the world of blogging but has been a Daring Baker for a couple of years. Cheeses can be swapped, flours altered and spices changed; I encourage creativity! As long as you a making small crispy platforms on which to add a myriad of toppings, you are on the right track, she says.

Pepper Jack and Oregano Crackers (Roll with pasta rollers or by hand):
Servings: Approximately 80 crackers
Ingredients
1⅔ cups (400 ml) (235 gm) (8¼ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
2¼ cups (540 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) grated pepper jack cheese, firmly packed
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (1 gm) dried oregano
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) salt
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (½ gm) black pepper
½ cup (120 ml) (4 fl oz) vegetable oil
½ cup (120 ml) (4 fl oz) water
Spice topping
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1/8 gm) cayenne
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) kosher salt
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) sugar
Directions:
1. Combine the spice topping and set aside.
2. Grate the cheese and put in the bowl of a food processor with flour, oregano, salt and pepper and pulse to combine. This can also be done by hand.
3. Add the oil and pulse until the consistency of wet sand is reached.
4. Add enough water for the dough to come together.
5. Form the dough into two disks, wrap with cling film and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
6. Heat the oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
7. Working with a quarter of the dough at a time, either use a rolling pin or roll out in your pasta rollers to 1/8 of an inch (3 mm) thick. If you use pasta rollers, ensure the dough is well floured so as not to stick.
8. Cut the strips into cracker shapes or cut out using a cookie cutter.
Transfer to a parchment lined cookies sheet and sprinkle with the spice mixture.
10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until medium golden brown.
11. Store in an airtight container and eat within three days

Cheddar, Rosemary and Walnut Icebox Crackers (form into a log and slice):
Servings: Approximately 48 crackers
Ingredients
½ cup (120 ml) (1 stick) (115 gm/4 oz) butter, well softened
2¼ cups (540 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) grated aged cheddar cheese (the better the cheese, the better the cracker), firmly packed
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (285 ml) (190 gm/6oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) (60 gm/2 oz) finely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (1¾ gm) finely chopped rosemary
Directions:
1. Combine butter, rosemary and cheese in a stand mixer and beat well (can also be done by hand)
2. Add the flour, salt and nuts and stir to combine
3. Form the dough into two tight logs and wrap with cling film
4. Chill for at least an hour and up to several days. The log can be frozen at this point for several months.
5. Heat the oven to moderate 160°C.
6. Slice a log into 5mm (1/5 inch) coins and place on a parchment lined baking sheet
7. Bake about 10 minutes until golden brown
8. Store in an airtight container and eat within three days
9. Try this recipe with different cheeses, nuts (or no nuts), and spices. Get creative!

CrackersIt’s been a fun daring July with quite the perfect challenge which has opened up a whole new window to creative baking. Crisp, versatile and popular, savoury snacks are always welcome, and I’m looking forward to trying the recipes above. I ♥ Daring Bakers!

Thank you Dana, and thank you as always Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for hosting this fab kitchen!! Do stop by here to see our  daring bakers go creatively crazy over crackers!!!

Don’t miss a post
Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India



HERB CREAM CHEESE CRACKERS…there’s more to buckwheat than meets the eye!!

“Much Virtue in Herbs, little in Men.”
Benjamin Franklin
Couldn’t resist adding that quotesorry guys!
…I’m beginning to have more fun in the kitchen. That bag of buckwheat flour has done me a world of good. It keeps beckoning to me from the shelf. Was back to Heidi @ 101 Cookbooks to drool over some delicious looking Swedish Rye Cookies, when a note in the middle of her post grabbed my attention. She had let loose some pearls of wisdom about trying the Swedish Cookies in a savoury avatar. Fancy that? Of course I did, & the feet found themselves moving towards the kitchen with a strange sense of excitement. It was like working in the Chemistry lab back in school, when mixing different solutions resulted in magical colours (& smells to faint by). Still fun with experiments ruled nonetheless. Now a parallel fascination continues. I worked like a busy bee throwing in a bit of this & a bit of that, throwing caution to the windhow much can go wrong with substituting flours? It was just the sans sugar factor that bothered me, but I plodded on. The end result, as you can see, turned out to be cracking good! The fact happily endorsed by my ever enthusiastic little official taster! Crackers with herbs, za’atar, to be more specific. Za’atar is a Middle-eastern herb which my hub’s niece got for me from Dubai. She is new to cooking/baking & regularly stops by my blog for ideas, & has now become an expert on adana kebabs, lamb curries, apple crumbles & much more. She plays Santa every few months & religiously gets me a bag of goodies to intrigue me further. This time it was za’atar in a bag of yummy ingredients that caught my eye… as did her poppet of a daughter … all of 2 years old with sea green eyes, a bit like the colour of the za’atar!!
Za’atar is generally prepared using ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, or some combination thereof, mixed with toasted sesame seeds, and salt. It is a mixture of herbs and spices used as a condiment with Middle Eastern origins. The name of the condiment shares the Arabic name of the herb used as the main ingredient. Za’atar is used as a seasoning for meats and vegetables. It can be mixed with olive oil to make a spread called za’atar-wu-zayt as a dip for the sesame bread rings known as ka’ak. Za’atar can also be spread on a dough base and baked as a bread, in which case it is called manaeesh bi zaatar. It can be sprinkled on labneh (yogurt that has been drained until it becomes a tangy, creamy cheese). Za’atar is often sprinkled on hummus or served with olive oil as a spread or dip. It can also be used to spice meat and vegetables and can be mixed with salt, rolled into balls and preserved in oil, or dried in the sun I even pinched a bit of dough & rolled out a petite pastry shell to see if it would make a crust. It did…a perfect & pretty little crust … am now thinking ‘fillings’. Goat cheese & cherry tomatoes, caramelised onions, or maybe broccoli & cauliflower. Any suggestions are most welcome…

HERB CREAM CHEESE CRACKERS with buckwheat, oatmeal & za’atar

An original recipe… inspired by Heidi @ 101 Cookbooks
Ingredients:
Buckwheat – 1/2 cup
Oatmeal – 1 cup (I ground a cup of Quaker oats in my coffee grinder)
Flour – 1/2 cup
Butter – 1/2 cup (100gms); chilled & cut into cubes
Za’atar – 1/4 – 1/3 cup (as per taste); you can even substitute this for any other herb of your choice, or then freshly ground black pepper. Do adjust the salt accordingly as za’atar has salt of its own
Freshly ground pepper
Sea salt to taste
Cream cheese – 100 gms
Grated cheddar cheese – 50 gms

Method:

  • Toss all the flours + pepper + chilled butter into the food processor & pulse until breadcrumbs like mixture forms.
  • Add the salt & za’atar & briefly pulse until evenly mixed.
  • Turn out into a big mixing bowl, add the cream cheese & grated cheddar & work into a dough till it all comes together. From into 2 balls & chill in cling wrap for about an hour.
  • Roll out thin & cut into shapes of your choice. Sprinkle with sea salt / za’atar/ freshly ground pepper / paprika & bake at 180C for 10-12 minutes till golden brown. Cool on racks & store in an airtight box. Stays well for a week or so in cold weather.
  • Serve as part of your holiday cheeseboard, or better still, sandwiched with some cream cheese!

These savoury cookies are flying westwards to Susan @ Food Blogga for her Eat Christmas Cookies event, to Happy Cook @ My Kitchen Treasures for her Homemade Christmas Gifts event, & also to Lore for her Original Recipes event @ Culinarty. This post featured on

LAVASH CRACKERS AGAIN, WITH A ROASTED BELL PEPPER DIP…GUILT-FREE SNACKING!!

“Good taste is as tiring as good company.”
Francis Picabia
There’s something about these crackers. Never has guilt free snacking been this indulgent, this happy! Munch till you drop? These crackers take food addiction to a new level…no stops here. This is the only time I’ve actually repeated a Daring Baker challenge, that too, more than once. The vegan lavash crackers continue to entice me. The dip I made this time is inspired by the one I saw at Meeta @ What’s For Lunch Honey? . The look of it had me absolutely mesmerised…the Ajvar dip; a Middle Eastern eggplant & roasted bell pepper dip. However, I have quite an aversion for eggplant, & have never taken well to it for some strange reason. A lot of people love eggplant, & though I’ve been brave enough to try it a couple of times, it just didn’t work for me. So, I made my dip with roasted bell peppers, & threw in a few roasted tomatoes to add flavour. Meeta served the dip with crackers sprinkled with zatar, a herby middle eastern spice, which I enviously don’t have. I did have the other one she used, called sumac, a tangy spice made from red berries. The lavash recipe is as simple as crackers can possibly be, & once you master the art of getting the dough consistency right & rolling it out really thin, there’s nothing that can come between you & this addictive cracker. The first time I made them for the DB challenge, I did 2 variants, sweet & savoury, & they were both delicious. (I did a sweet cinnamon & brown sugar lavash with slivered almonds; the savoury version was with alternate rows of black & white sesame seeds…fun, fun, fun!)This time I made 2 savoury versions…a Middle Eastern & an Italian. The Middle Eastern ones were tamed into diamond shapes but the Italian ones were broken into shards. Addictive & yum, both of them! I preferred the ones with red chili flakes, roasted garlic & a sprinkling of Italian grill herbs. The jagged edges of the shards won me over!

Roasted Bell Pepper & Garlic Dip
as adapted from Ajvar Dip @ Meeta’s What’s For Lunch Honey?
Ingredients

Red bell peppers -3

Tomatoes -2
Garlic cloves – 3-4

A small bunch of chopped coriander leaves
Juice of 1/2 lime
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Olive oil – 1 tbsp
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Green chili – 1-2/ finely chopped
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper Method:

  • Grill the peppers, tomatoes & garlic over an open flame as I did, or in a pre-heated oven.
  • Roast them till the skins have completely charred & blistered. Seal into a ziploc & leave for 10-15 minutes. Peel the skins off, deseed. Squeeze the garlic clove out. Place in a large bowl and mash or purée depending how chunky or fine you would like it to be. (I left mine chunky)
  • Add olive oil and the remaining ingredients. Season with sea salt & freshly ground black pepper. Store in air-tight containers in the fridge for up to a week.
Lavash Crackers
from the book, ‘The Art Of Extraordinary Bread’, by Peter Reinhart.
Ingredients

Flour – 1 1/2 cup
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Instant yeast – 1/2 tsp
Sugar – 1 tbsp (or agave syrup)
Vegetable oil – 1 tbsp
Water – 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 , at room temperature
Roasted garlic paste
Sumac, Italian herbs, Roasted garlic, Poppy seeds, Sesame seeds, Roasted red chili flakes or sea salt for toppings

Method:

  • Stir together the flour, salt yeast, sugar, oil, and add just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water. Knead to a middle-firm dough, smooth & not sticky.
  • Turn into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, & allow to rise at room temperature for about 90 minutes, until doubled in size.
  • Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square & dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 C. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices if you are doing the Middle Eastern/sumac version (or poppy seeds, sesame seeds etc).
  • For the Italian version, brush the rolled out dough lightly all over with roasted garlic paste, sprinkle with Italian grill herbs, red chili flakes & sea salt. Just a light sprinkling is enough.
  • If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter & cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).
  • When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Pull the cut one apart, or break the Italian one into shards & serve.

This post featuted on

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...