Walk into any deli and you’re almost guaranteed to be gobsmacked by the cost of good crackers. But don’t settle for the cheap cardboard-tasting ones from the supermarket – try these instead; they’re dead easy to make, the ingredients cost very little, and they taste so amazing you’ll never be tempted to buy crackers again. This is a basic recipe, so feel free to play around with the toppings – smoked salt, different chillies, seeds, dried herbs and spices. Roasting the spices in a small frying pan will really intensify their taste, so please don’t skip this step. You can also try incorporating some different flours like spelt and wholemeal (whole-wheat), for extra character and flavour. The crackers will keep well in an airtight container, so make a double batch and you’ll always have some on hand.
This is an excerpt from my new book "Real Food Projects - 30 skills and 46 recipes from Scratch. For more recipes like this one - buy it here.
MAKES: 8 crackers
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
150 g (5½ oz/1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) water, plus 3 teaspoons extra
1 tablespoon sea salt
small frying pan
large mixing bowl
rolling pin or large bottle
2 baking trays, lined with baking paper
wire cooling rack
Prepare your oven: Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF).
Dry-fry your spices: In a small frying pan, gently toast the spices over low heat until they are fragrant; this should take about 30 seconds. There is no need to use any oil. This step is important as it brings out the beautiful flavours of the spices.
Mix your ingredients: In a large bowl, mix the flour, oil and 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) water, using a wooden spoon, until just combined. The mixture should be a little sticky and shaggy; you may need to add a little extra water, say about 3 teaspoons, depending on the flour and humidity.
Knead the dough: Tip the dough out onto a floured work bench, then knead for about a minute, or until the dough comes together; it should have the texture of a soft playdough. The best thing about this dough is that you can’t overwork it. Mixing it only a little will give you a flaky cracker; work it a lot and the crackers will be more uniform in texture.
Roll out: Shape the dough into a log about 30 cm (12 inches long) and cut into eight pieces. Using your rolling pin, roll each piece into an oblong shape that looks like a crocodile’s snout. They should be as thin as a piece of paper. If they are too thick, they will be doughy, not crispy. They will also stretch a little more when you transfer them to the baking tray.
Add the toppings: Sprinkle each piece of dough evenly with the salt and the toasted spices. Gently roll the rolling pin over the top to make sure the spices are incorporated, and don’t fall off when they are cooked.
Bake: Transfer to baking trays lined with baking paper. Brush with a little olive oil, then prick all over with a fork, to stop air bubbles forming. Bake for 6–8 minutes, or until they are golden.
Cool and store: Leave to cool on a wire rack. When cooled, transfer to an airtight container and keep in the pantry. The crackers are best consumed within 2 weeks.
HOW TO USE
• Sprinkle with cheese before baking – perfect for little people’s lunchboxes.
• For a richer cracker, add a handful of grated cheddar cheese to the dough mixture, and use melted butter instead of olive oil.
Photo credit: Cath Muscat
Styling: Vivien Walsh