I have to admit, the last part left me a little less excited. Never really been a particularly keen cracker-eater. Always preferred my carbs in bread or cookie form, it must be said. Good scones, too.
But then we politely tasted the crackers. And of course, we should have known, because isn't homemade just always going to be better? Isn't that just the rule? These crackers were so delicious, and so packed with good-for-you stuff, it really was a revelation. And of course, I wanted to make them myself. And I wanted mine to be better than theirs. Of course.
Just before summer hit, I had collected a copy of a new cookbook, hoping to have some time to play with it before I got too busy, which of course I didn’t. But I remembered seeing pictures of crackers in this book. And I remembered how uninterested in them I had been compared with all of the other delicious things. And I realized that this book was probably going to be the perfect place to start my mission to out-cracker my friend. And it was.
Flavor Flours is by Alice Medrich, an acclaimed and experienced baker and cookbook author. She’s absolutely fabulous. And she’s written the book that we’ve been waiting for: a gluten-free baking book that focuses on FLAVOR! Alice Medrich is a skilled technician, and all of the recipes in this book work beautifully, but they’re also delicious in a way that gluten-free goods made with blends of rice flours and starches aren’t: the flours impart distinctive and yummy flavors that take everything to the next level.
Now, on to the crackers. Alice Medrich has a few recipes for crackers in the book, since each chapter focuses on a different flour, and I started with her “Seed Crackers” since they were the most similar to the crackers that my friend had made. The list of ingredients may be a little bit daunting, so I apologize for that. If you’re into gluten-free baking, then you may already have a few of them around. All of these ingredients are now readily-available, if that’s some comfort.
Also, if you would allow me to take this moment to recount the benefits of baking with a gram scale (trust me, it makes baking quicker, cleaner, more accurate, and more fun! for $25!), this will make it less annoying to handle all of these ingredients. I just bring the gram scale and the KitchenAid bowl right over to the counter in front of where I store all of the stuff and start throwing things into it. Doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes, I swear!
And did I mention that this copious list of ingredients happens to be comprised of tons of nutritious things? And that they’re dairy free? And that they’re absolutely addictive? And finally, it really makes a lot, so at least you’ll be rewarded for your efforts for a longer-than-usual time after baking something delicious.
Give them a try and let me know if they turn you into a cracker-convert, too.
Garlic & Paprika Seed Crackers
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Measure into a mixing bowl:
½ cup (80 g) brown rice flour
½ cup (80 g) white rice flour
⅓ cup (40 g) oat flour
⅔ cup (80 g) cornmeal
½ cup (65 g) sunflower seeds
¼ cup (35 g) sesame seeds
⅓ cup (40 g) flaxseed meal
2 T (25 g) brown sugar
1½ tsp (8g) salt
¾ cup water
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp (5g) baking powder
¼ cup plain oil
4 cloves crushed garlic
2 tsp sweet paprika
Mix all ingredients together for about three minutes with a flat beater or spatula until thoroughly combined. The dough is soft, but not particularly sticky. You can always dust it with a bit of rice flour to help. To shape the crackers you have two choices:
1) Cut two pieces of baking parchment the size of your baking sheet. Place tablespoon-size blobs of dough onto one piece of parchment about four inches apart (I use an ice cream scoop for convenience). Cover the scoops with the second piece of parchment. Then, first using the palm of your hand and then a rolling pin, roll your blobs out into long, oblong-shaped crackers about 1/16" thick. You will need to loosen the paper from time to time to allow the dough to spread evenly.
2) Or, you can place half of the dough on a sheet of parchment paper, cover with the second sheet, and roll it out between the paper into a large rectangle about 1/16" thick. Again, you will need to peel the papers at different moments as the dough stretches out between them. Freeze this sheet of dough for about a half hour until cold enough to cut with a sharp knife or with a pastry or pizza wheel into the desired shape and size for the crackers.
For either method of shaping, proceed as follows. Peel off the top sheet of parchment paper. Flip the paper with the crackers on it onto the baking sheet so that the dough is touching the sheet directly. Place in the oven and bake for about four to five minutes. At this point you can remove the paper, flip the crackers, and bake for another four to five minutes until toasted golden and smelling delicious. Let cool completely and enjoy! ~ Rachel Portnoy and Franck Tessier own Chez Nous Bistro in Lee, MA. www.cheznousbistro.com