…I made this
My cooking this weekend has been a little Martha. I see that phrase from time to time on US sites, referring to Ms. Stewart’s ability to make even the simplest dishes at home. Homemade crackers. Homemade flour. Homemade air (there was a skit on this somewhere online but I can’t find it at the moment). On the one hand this seems strange to me. After all, if you cook, you cook because you enjoy it, because you find it soothing being in the kitchen, measuring out ingredients, kneading doughs, testing cakes, tasting stews and eventually creating a finished product you are proud of. Why shouldn’t this extend to seemingly simple dishes such as crackers? On the other hand, there is something to be said for the ease of the supermarket. Even for coeliacs, who have in the past had to go without ready-prepared foods, there is now a huge variety of foods out there, all ready to eat. Gluten-free pizza, frozen and ready to go. Beef bourgignon in a packet, no flour added. Christmas cake, iced to perfection and not a molecule of gluten in sight, all ready for the eating. For those without the time, energy or inclination, prepared foods are all you’ll ever need. And I admit, I do avail myself of them from time to time. As much as I love cooking, experimenting and tweaking and poring over recipes, I too have my lazy days. Days when the finest meal I can dream of is a pizza, taken from the freezer and thrown in the oven, possibly alongside some chips.
On the whole however, I enjoy cooking for cooking’s sake. Exploring new methods, learning more about food, understanding how, and why, things are made. This is my hobby, my spare-time treat. I may be able to pop to the shops and buy just exactly what I’m going to make, but where’s the fun in that. Especially since, when you make things yourself, you can tweak the flavours to your idea of perfection. These crackers were adapted from a recipe for spelt crackers. Well, obviously that was a non-starter, so I swapped in some gluten-free flour and one-third buckwheat flour, which is slightly darker, with brown flecks in it and a lovely nutty flavour. And although crackers are the quintessential simple food, easy to make and plain to eat, I personally think they’re rather fancy food; you rarely eat crackers on their own, they’re always gussied up with spreads or vegetables, or maybe even homemade gravadlax.
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup gf flour blend
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon flaxseed (linseed)
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
2. Dissolve the salt in 1/4 cup of the water in a large bowl. Measure out the flours into the bowl and stir to combine. Add the other 1/4 cup of water a couple of tablespoons at a time to the dough until it starts to come together. I used a full 1/2 cup of water in the end. When the dough starts to come together get your hands in the bowl and knead it to bring it together; it’s a better way to judge the dough than just stirring with a spatula.
3. Once the dough has formed a cohesive ball roll it out on a lightly floured upturned baking sheet (yes, you will roll it out and bake it on this. It’s upturned because have you ever tried rolling something out inside a baking sheet?). Choose the biggest baking sheet you have (I used a 9×13 inch sheet, which was just about big enough for this amount of dough). Roll out the dough as thin as you can get it; it should be threatening to become see-through. The cracker in the picture above was one from the centre of my sheet, and is a little thicker than it should be; they should be about half as thin as this, or they become a little tough and chewy.
4. Using a pastry brush lightly brush the surface of the rolled dough with water until it is shiny. Quickly score the dough into squares to make it easier to snap into crackers once cooked. Prick the dough all over with a fork and finally sprinkle with the flaxseeds. These will need to be pressed very lightly into the surface of the dough to help them stick, otherwise, like mine, they will fall off when the dough has cooked.
5. Cook the dough for 15-20 minutes. Mine took about 17 minutes, if you roll the dough out very thin it will take less time. Remove from the oven and leave to cool fully, then break into crackers and serve.
Serve with a rich, creamy cheese or top each cracker with a thin slice of cucumber, a couple of slivers of gravadlax, lemon juice, cracked black pepper and a sprinkle of chopped dill. Serve as canapés and glow with pride.