Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sesame Semolina Crackers

Wild Yeast is one of the best food blogs I know. The subjects, the photos, the style of writing are all beautiful and very instructive. If ever I decide one day to start experimenting with sourdough and serious bread-making, this will be my first place to learn. For the moment though, I'm happy simply admiring Susan's work.

A perfect recipe

But this recipe for crackers caught my attention, and I'm delighted to add it to my repertoire. No yeast, no rising, only four minutes in the oven. The crackers are extremely thin yet resilient. They stay crunchy even if left out for a while. They're pretty even if you break them. You can play with flavorings. They are somewhat healthier than other snacks. And, completely addictive.

So really, a perfect recipe: easy, original, tasty, not fussy, somewhat healthy, the crackers store well, and lend themselves to variations.



For those who don't have gadgets...

Susan and I both used the pasta roller attachment to our Kitchenaid to roll out very thin sheets of dough. I went as far as level 6, I believe she made hers even thinner. I was happy to use my new toy, and yes, it makes the rolling out process a little faster.


The crackers after rolling out, brushing with oil and sprinking with salt. Rolling out with the pasta roller lets you make such thin sheets the dough can get a little wrinkly. But the wrinkles only add hand-made charm to the crackers.

However, you do not need a pasta roller. I tried rolling a few crackers by hand and had no difficulty, as you can see here.


The dough is easy to handle, and barely needs a dusting of flour for rolling out by hand.


The two crackers on the left -- marked with herbs -- were hand-rolled. The two on the right were machine-rolled.


The front two crackers were hand-rolled.

I did bake the crackers on a preheated baking stone. I should have tested without the stone, for readers who don't have one. But I imagine preheating a cookie sheet in the oven and placing the crackers on it to bake would probably have a similar effect.

Finally I used my pizza peel to slide the crackers onto the stone, but that really isn't necessary. Just put a piece of baking paper on the back of a cookie sheet, then use the cookie sheet to slide the crackers with the paper onto the preheated stone or cookie sheet in the oven.

Variations

I played with a few variations, sprinkling the crackers with pepper, grated cheese and rosemary. The pepper was good for those who like spicy crackers. The cheese very tasty too, though I kept it light (this isn't pizza!). The rosemary did not adhere to the crackers, so I can't say it added much. I tried rolling some rosemary leaves in with the dough, but this caused tearing.

I also substituted a good portion of whole-wheat flour for the all-purpose flour, and the result was great. Once I didn't have enough semolina flour, so I substitued corn meal for part of the semolina. I liked the result very much, though it made them a little grainier.


A cracker sprinkled with grated cheese (Gruyère). Next I'll try parmesan.



I tried reproducing the photo Susan took but hers is better, do have a look at her post



Sometimes when I was a little too quick to roll the dough, it tore a little. But even with tears, the crackers hold up very well. I find it gives them a lacy effect


Recipe: Sesame-Semolina Flatbreads

Source: Wild Yeast
(adapted from “Sardinian Crackers” in Savory Baking from the Mediterranean by Anissa Helou)

Yield: 12 large flatbreads

Time:

* Mix/rest: 45 minutes
* Roll/bake (total time for 12 flatbreads): 25 minutes

Ingredients:

* 150 g flour
* 150 g semolina
* 22 g (2 T.) black sesame seeds
[Susan used black sesame seeds (I only had white), which makes the crackers even more visually appealing.]
* 6 g (1 t.) salt
* 170 g lukewarm water
* olive oil for brushing
* coarse Kosher salt for topping

Method:

1. Preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 450F.
2. Mix flour, semolina, sesame seeds, and salt in a medium bowl.
3. Add water are stir to incorporate into the dry ingredients.
4. Turn dough onto an unfloured counter and knead for 3 minutes. Cover the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes.
5. Knead for another 2 minutes. Cover and rest for 20 minutes.
6. Divide the dough into 12 or more pieces and form them into balls.
7. Cut a piece of parchment paper the approximate size of your baking stone.
8. Roll a ball of dough through a pasta roller, starting with the thickest setting and adjusting the thickness setting down with each successive pass, to the desired thinness. Alternatively, roll out as thin as possible with a rolling pin.
9. Place the rolled flatbread on the parchment. Repeat with as many flatbreads as will fit on the parchment.
10. Brush the flatbreads lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with a small pinch of Kosher salt.
11. Transfer the breads, parchment and all, onto the stone. Bake until the edges are nicely brown and rippled, and the tops have golden brown patches, about 3 – 4 minutes.
12. While one batch is baking, roll out the next batch.
13. Cool on a wire rack. Break into pieces to serve.

17 comments:

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Wow, you rocked these and I love how you experimented with all the different variations! And thanks so much for your very generous compliments -- you have me blushing.

linda said...

Put them on my to-do list. Will have to use the old-fashioned rolling pin because I don't own a pasta machine :(
They look delicious and your daughter looks cute ;) Is that your middle one?

Astrid said...

Susan - Yes, I really enjoy this recipe as you can tell... Thank you for posting it in the first place! And the praise is entirely deserved.

Linda - I would love to find out how these turn out for you. Yes, that's my middle daughter surveying my work, suspicious about these things mom produces all the time in her kitchen but that are never any good to eat... but these crackers did win approval from the kids. Only my one year old kind of gagged on them (hard to eat them with no molars!)

Kate said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog ... which meant I found your own. What luck! Crackers! I'm always on the look-out for a good recipe - my husband doesn't have a sweet tooth at all, but loves cheese and biscuits each evening after dinner. And to find someone else who has 3 young children, bakes and tries to fit in blogging about it all at the same time ... well, I can only say you manage it far better than I do!

Miri said...

Your crackers look delicious, Astrid! They indeed sound perfect, so many benefits in just one recipe. Thanks for sharing!

Pilar - Lechuza said...

I have to cook these inmediately!! They look so tasty and crispy!!!
I also have a wooden rolling pin, but I love it. It is very old but it works just fine.
Best regards from Spain

Astrid said...

Kate - Thanks for your comment! "You manage it far better than I do" This from a woman who has researched and pioneered a method to turn her kitchen into an alchemist's lab for turning any European flour into American cake flour!

Miri - Thanks! Yep, when I get enthusiastic about a recipe, I get enthusiastic!

Pilar - Hola! Thanks for leaving a note from Spain, it's lovely to reach people all over the world.

michelle @ TNS said...

those are some mondo crackers. yowza!

i've gotta get the kitchaid pasta roller.

Kai Carver said...

Yup! Certified delicious and lovely to look at. -- The LCSFLC

Aran said...

gorgeous astrid!

Helen said...

I love Susan's blog too, very inspiring! You did a fantastic job with these!
Sorry if I am such a ghost commenter these days, work has doubled and keeps me hopping rather then settling down.
Keep up the experiments, I love them!

Elra said...

Astrid,
looks so good. You convinced me that I really should try to make my own. Will get back to you with the result.

Astrid said...

Michelle - Thanks! But again, the Kitchenaid tool is not a requirement for this recipe.

Kai - Glad you liked them!

Aran - Thanks!

Helen - Thanks for your comment, and please don't apologize, you've got so much on your plate!

Elra - I would love to hear how they turn out for you!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Susan's blog is terrific. That's how I just clicked over to your blog! And it looks like you've got a great one too. I really like your packaging ideas in the last post too.

We Are Never Full said...

thank you for sharing this and sharing Wild Yeast with us! I'm heading over there to poke around. These look really beautiful and sometimes I prefer to crunch on a flatbread instead of a baguette or roll. MMMMM!

Tim said...

I've been meaning to make these crackers ever since I saw them at Wild Yeast. Nice one trying out all of the various ways of making them, by the way. They all look great :)

Astrid said...

Proportions for 500g flour, 20 crackers

* 250 g flour
* 250 g semolina
* 37 g (2 T.) black sesame seeds
* 10g (1 t.) salt
* 283 g lukewarm water
* olive oil for brushing
* coarse Kosher salt for topping