Saturday, 28 December 2013

Crackers Redux

Crackers Redux

So, what makes a cracker delicious?  They should be crisp and flavourful, but also flakey.  And what causes dough to become flakey?  Two considerations, a rising agent, and lots of layers interspersed with butter.

Okay, okay, after last night’s debacle where I attempted to make Masala Chips, or Is that Curried Crackers, at the wrong temperature, I’ve done a lot of thinking.  Confusing Celcius and Fahrenheit was bad enough, but oh what tough little wedges of dough that confusion created when they had to be cooked three times longer than normal.  The good news is that unlike Mr. Bronfman, who never had a ‘shoulda, coulda woulda’ moment, nor other successful people who leave the past behind them, I consider, reconsider then consider again.  The best is yet to come.

Another thing: Remove bangles before handling dough...
So here we go with a very much improved cracker:

3 teaspoons cumin seed
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon chili flakes
½ teaspoon salt

(or you could go with the Indian spices given in my first masala cracker recipe, or really any combo of spices you desire)

½ teaspoon Kosher salt plus more sprinklings
2 tablespoons sesame seed
2 tablespoons Nigella seed (kalonji)

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (possibly more) hot water
slatherings of melted ghee (maybe two tablespoons in total) 

Just brush on a skiff of melted ghee.
First dry roast the whole spices, brushing them around in the pan a bit on medium heat, till they get fragrant.  Put into bowl for dough, then add the sesame and nigella to the spice roasting pan.  Brush them around till the sesame seed starts to turn pale golden.  Brush into a separate bowl and set aside.

Move your hand in circles to mix the roasted spices, flour, baking powder and salt.  Another aspect of last night’s cracker baking debacle was that my flour has dried out a bit, so I needed more than a cup of hot water.  Add the water a little at a time, mixing with those circles, till the dough comes together.  Make two balls and cover one with a damp cloth.

Fold into squares for easier cutting later.
Knead one ball at a time on a floured countertop, then roll out to almost an eighth of an inch.  Brush the layer with a thin coat of melted ghee.  Fold the dough over once, and roll out again.  Brush with melted ghee again.  Repeat these steps till the dough has been folded over, buttered, and rolled at least four times.  The last time, sprinkle the dough with half the sesame seed mix and sprinkle a little extra Kosher salt where you feel the urge.  Roll out to the thinnest layer possible.  Use a knife to cut vertical lines, then diagonal lines to make diamond shaped crackers. 

Place on parchment lined cookie sheet, and bake at, ahem, 400 F for ten minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on a rack. 

So much better than last night's attempt!
If last night’s attempt had been successful, I would never have had to do all that shoulda, coulda woulda thinking.  Thus I would never have gotten all analytical about how to perfect the recipe. 

Once in a while, a dismal failure is a wonderful thing.  Last night’s crackers are rather dense and tough, but they’ll stand up fine with my roasted red pepper dip.  I hope.  Time will tell.  The birthday partiers will decide.

These crispy, flakey creatures will disappear more quickly, I suspect.  I just hope I don’t greedily eat them all before we get to that party!  

Homemade Crackers
Happy Birthday Auntie Pasta!  Many happy reduxes!

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