Saturday, February 18, 2012

Flax Seed & Cracked Pepper Crackers {Joy the Baker Cookbook Spotlight & Cook-Off}

Much like a good loaf of bread, I can make a meal out of some good crackers.  Pair them with a tasty cheese or two and some fruit...perhaps some sort of artisan salami and a good bottle of wine.  Oh yes.  That's totally my kind of eats.  And for some reason, it makes me feel cool.  Like I'm Italian.  Or French.  Okay, that happens more with bread, but crackers aren't a far cry.

And really.  If you've never tried making your own crackers?  Remedy that situation.  Soon.  Crackers are good for munching, but homemade crackers will make you infinitely cooler.   And they'll taste better; they'll be better.  You know.  For your body.  Because you'll know exactly what is in them.  And that's totally cool.

Might I recommend you start with these?  Silky golden flax seeds that you'll want to run your fingers through.  Peppercorns that you've cracked and mashed in your little mortar.  Tangy buttermilk.  Oh yeah, it's like that.

They rock when topped with a shmear of goat cheese.  Herby or not.  I kinda like topping them with some ragged shards of Parmesan.
Let's talk logistics.  Number one.  Don't be afraid to adjust the consistency of the dough once you've kneaded it together.  I added an extra splash or two of buttermilk.  Because on this day, in my kitchen, it needed it.  

Number two.  Put some muscle into it...roll, Roll, ROLL!  Get it thin.  Dust it with flour if it sticks.  And invest in a bench scraper.  Because then, even if it sticks to the board, you can slide that baby underneath and lift the dough off with ease. 

Number three.  Understand that cookbook authors are only human.  As are cookbook editors.  And accept that even though the cracked pepper was left off the ingredient list in the book, you can simply ask.  Or guess.  A half a teaspoon is how it should read.  And if you want to add a little extra just because?  Do it.  It'll give you this little underlying current of heat that makes you smile each time you take a bite.  

And number four.  Don't ditch your scraps.  Re-roll them.  And wind up with 3 dozen more crackers than the recipe calls for.  The crackers are worth it.  You're worth it. 

If you haven't done so yet, be sure to head over and check out my interview: 9 Questions with Joy the Baker ...and add your 10th question for a chance to win your own copy.  Trust me, you need this book in your life.  Submissions will be accepted until Monday 2/20!
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Flax Seed & Cracked Pepper Crackers

by Heather Schmitt-González (slightly adapted from Joy Wilson)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 12-18 minutes
Keywords: bake side snack appetizer sugar-free vegetarian flax
Ingredients (~7 dozen crackers)
  • ¼ c. golden flax seeds
  • ¼ c. ground flaxseed meal
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • ½ c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ~½ tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
  • ½ c. buttermilk
Instructions
Whisk together flaxseed, flaxseed meal, flours, baking soda, salt, and cracked black pepper in a medium bowl.

Add the butter and quickly work the butter into the dry ingredients, using your fingers. Some of the butter will resemble oatmeal flakes while some will be the size of small pebbles.

Make a well in the center of the mixture. Add the buttermilk and use a fork to bring all of the ingredients together. Make sure that every bit of flour is moistened by the buttermilk. The dough will be shaggy. Adjust consistency with a bit more buttermilk as needed.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead together about ten times to bring dough together. Wrap in plastaic wrap and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.
Place a rack in the center of oven and preheat to 325° F. Line baking sheet with parchment or a silpat. Remove dough from fridge and cut in half. Put half back in fridge while you work with the other half.

Place dough on a floured work surface and roll out as thinly as possible using a floured rolling pin. Don't be afraid to sprinkle on some more flour if it seems to stick. Roll just thinner than ⅛" - the thinner the dough, the crisper the cracker. Use a 1½" round cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out circular crackers. Alternately, use a pizza cutter or bench scraper to cut 1½" squares. Or use a small cutter of any shape in about the same size. Prick each cracker with the tines of a fork and place on prepared sheet. I was able to fit 24 circles of dough this size per tray.
Bake crackers for ~15-18 minutes or until edges are slightly golden. Depending on your oven and how thinly you rolled the dough, you may want to check sooner. I had a couple of batches ready at around 12 or 13 minutes.

Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack, and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

slightly adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook
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*This post is part of the Joy the Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef*
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