Friday, July 27, 2012

July 2012 Daring Bakers' Challenge - Crackers

Blog-checking lines: Our July 2012 Daring Bakers’ Host was Dana McFarland and she challenged us to make homemade crackers! Dana showed us some techniques for making crackers and encouraged to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love.

Recipe Source: A few recipes from the pile of books I own:
• Brown, Alton (2011). Good Eats 3:The Early Years, “Seedy Crisps”. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, New York, NY.
• The American Culinary Institute. (2008). Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen (3rd ed.) “Pepper Jack and Oregano Crackers”. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Hoboken, NJ.
• The American Culinary Institute. (2008). Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen (3rd ed.). “Cheddar and Walnut Icebox Crackers”. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Hoboken, NJ.
• Smith, Sandy (2000). Kootenay Country Kitchens Cookbook: A Collection of Kootenay Favourites. “Health Crackers” Kootenay Kitchens Publishing, Nakusp, BC.

See here for a PDF of the challenge recipes.

Rolled five grain rye crisp bread
I'm Finnish born so I grew up eating rye crisp bread even now it is my main source of whole grains in my diet I really adore crisp bread. I'm so happy that this month's challenge is crackers, it allows me to indulge in my favourite food, I will be making many different sorts of Finnish crisp breads during the month. My first offering is a rye crisp bread made with rye flour and five types of rolled grain (rice, barley, triticale, oat and rye) and ground oat bran and chia seeds topped with four types of flavoured-sesame seeds (wasabi (green), charred bamboo (light red), BBQ (beige), seaweed (black). These are so tasty and sweet tasting (rye flour naturally is sweeter than wheat flour) as a a friend mentioned you can feel the goodness with each bite. Easy and quick and so so tasty a wonderful challenge.

Rye crisp bread is actually bread made with yeast, water, rye flour with a touch of salt it is fermented so making the dough slightly sour and then it is rolled very thin and baked it will keep for many months in a dry cool place.

Rolled five grain rye crisp bread
1 cup (250 ml) warm water
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (5 gm) dried instant yeast
1 cup (140 gm/5 oz) whole meal rye flour
1 cup (85 gm) (3 oz) five mixed rolled grains (rice, barley, triticale, oat and rye)
2 tablespoons (25 gm) (1 oz) flax seeds, ground or cracked
1 tablespoon (15 gm) (1/2 oz) chia seeds, ground or cracked
1 tablespoon (15 gm) (1/2 oz) oat bran
4 tablespoons (50 gm) (2 oz) various flavoured sesame seeds, for topping
1 teaspoon (3 gm) coarse sea salt, optional, for topping
0. Preheat oven to hot 220C/425F/gas mark 7.
1. In a large bowl mix the yeast and the warm water, rest until it becomes foamy (about 5 mins). 
2. Mix the rest of the dough ingredients together and add to the water mixture.
3. Knead for two minutes then rest covered for a minimum of 30 minutes in a warm place, the longer you rest the dough the stronger the tangy sour taste will become (overnight is best, you can add some vinegar (1 teaspoon) if you wish to increase the tangy taste if you wish). The mixture will be very stiff and will not rise.
4. Divide the dough into two.
5. Place one piece of dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll until 2 mm thick try to keep the shape the same shape as your baking sheet.
6. Sprinkle half of the sesame seeds onto the rolled dough, roll gently to press the seeds into the dough.
7. Cut the dough into pieces using a sharp knife. I did nine pieces per baking sheet (about 3"x4" (7cmx10m)). (Do not separate the pieces.)
8. Bake in a hot oven for 10 mins, rotate and bake for another 10 mins. Check to make sure the crisp bread is not browning too much. Take out and cool, the bread will "crisp-up" more when cooled. Repeat for the other piece of dough. (If you have rolled the dough thickly about 4 mm then it will take about 20 mins each side to bake.)
9. If the bread is not crisp enough return to moderate 359F/180C/gas mark 4 oven until it is done, checking carefully to stop burning or over-browning.

Hapanleipä - Finnish Sour Rye Crisp Bread
For my second offering on the theme of Finnish crisp breads is hapanleipä a fermented rye crisp bread in the traditional wheel shape. The ring form was once quite functional: in western Finland, crisp bread was baked only twice a year, and families strung hundreds of loaves on poles suspended from their rafters. It is still common practice in Finland to give a small hapanleipä on a stick (usually with a small bag of salt) as a present when you move into a new home. The hapanleipä will last for many years in a cool dry place, I still have some rings left which I eat from 2002 when my mum made 1200 for a wedding. These crisp cracker-like breads are; hard, have a tangy fermented faintly buttery mildly sweet taste, they are often slathered in butter and garnished with salt, or eaten with meats, cheeses or herring the stronger the taste of the garnish the better. These crisp breads have a strong robust flavour that can stand up to the strongest smelling cheeses or the most pungent gravlax (ferment fish) etc.

Hapanleipä - Finnish Sour Rye Crisp Bread
makes 4 large crisp bread wheels about 8" (20 cm) across
2 cups dark rye flour
1 cup barley or rye or oat bran (OR 1 cup barley or spelt or oat flour) See note
2 tablespoon butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar or 1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed (optional)
2 teaspoons dried yeast
1/2 cup plus 2 - 3 tablespoons warm water 
0. Preheat oven to hot 450F/230C/ gas mark 8.
1. In a small bowl dissolve the yeast into the warm water rest until it becomes foamy about 5 minutes.
2. Place the rye flour, sugar and salt in a bowl, mix together and add the butter.
3. Rub the butter into the flour with your hands until it is fully integrated it should appear sandy and clump together when it's done.
4. Add the yeast to the rye flour and mix it together with your hands or a wooden spoon.
5. Add the bran (or the additional flour or the caraway seeds if using) and knead for about 5 minutes until it is well mixed. It will be a firm dough.
6. Set the dough aside in a sealed bag or covered for a minimum of 8 hours or up to 3 days in a warm place. When opened the dough should have a tangy sourish smell.
7. Separate the dough into roughly 115 g balls (or just divide in 4). Take one and cover the rest again.
8. Roll the ball between two sheets of parchment paper into a circular shape about 8" (20 cm) across. It should be about 1/5" (5mm) thick don't roll it too thinly.
9. Take a small cutter or use a knife to cut out a hole directly in the middle. then take a fork and prick ("dock") the dough all over to prevent it from warping while baking. Save the holes and bake them also.
10. Bake in a hot oven for 15 minutes rotating half way through baking time. Let them cool a bit before moving or they will crack. Repeat for the other balls.
Note: If you want your crisp bread to be sweeter use oat flour or oat bran it is naturally sweeter than rye. Oat flour/bran is best when you are pairing the crisp bread with blue cheese or soured herring where a touch of sweetness goes down well.

The dough after kneading notice how stiff it is

The dough rolled shaped and the centre cut out ready to be "docked" with a fork and baked

The baked crisp breads

I'm extremely pleased with the results, they exactly like I remember them from my childhood, I will be making these a lot more. 

Brown rice and seaweed crackers
These crackers are made with finely ground microwave brown rice, I had a packet of microwave brown rice in the cupboard for ages not doing anything so I decided to use it to make some crispy crackers. I ground the rice in my coffee grinder until it was very very fine making sure to cool the rice flour down between grounding (coffee grinders can heat up the material being ground up to very high temperatures) added some baking soda and baking powder and some finely shredded seaweed and just enough water to hold the dough together. Then it is baked in a slow oven until the crackers are dry and crispy. Incredibly crisp and light crackers with a hint of umami "savoury" taste from the seaweed. I used my new cracker stamp to cut out the crackers worked like a charm.
Brown rice and seaweed crackers
1 cup (140 gm/5 oz) finely ground microwave brown rice
6 tablespoons (90 ml) water, approximately
1 tablespoon of soy sauce, optional, (reduced water by 1 tablespoon if using)
1 tablespoon shredded seaweed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Coarse sea salt for topping, optional, don't add if using soy sauce
0. Preheat oven to slow 150C/300F/gas mark 2.
1. Just combine all the cracker ingredients in a medium bowl, adding most of the water all at once, do not over-mix or the crackers will be chewy instead of crispy.
2. Roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment as thinly as possible about 1 or 2 mm thick. Best to roll out the dough on the baking sheet to ensure that it is the same size as the baking sheet.
3. Cut with a knife or stamp out using a cutter individual pieces (do not separate).
4. Bake in a slow oven 150C/300F/gas mark 2 for 40 minutes until dry and crisp.



What's for dessert? said...

Great collection, rolled five grain rye crisp bread is my favorite

Anonymous said...

Audax, your crackers look amazing! I plan to try your rye crisps and sour dough crisp bread. Fantastic job!

Jenni said...

Wow, awesome job!! I love all the different crisp breads, especially with all those whole grains and seeds in there! Delicious!!!

Rebecca said...

Those seedy crisps look wonderful!

Korena said...

These are truly amazing Audax!

Unknown said...

Oooo I love the seeds, so pretty! Also love your take on the brown rice and seaweed as I went for a similar flavour combination too!

Tugs Girl said...

Your crackers not only sound delicious, they are gorgeous. I've bookmarked your post to try these in the future!

Cher Rockwell said...

All those crackers are begging for a plate of cheese and fruit - especially the grain ones!

Bourbonnatrix said...

love that you made finnish crackers! will be trying hapanleipä this weekend, with oat i think! my husband remembers his nanna bauying thick wheels of this bread when he was a kid...

Sawsan@chef in disguise said...

I love all the different variations you made Audax but the finnish ones I am really curious about. The shape and texture look amazing

My Italian Smörgåsbord said...

so surprising to see so many familiar breads here. I leave in Sweden (and just participated to the challenge making knäckebröd) and Finnish crisp bread is widely available (and I love it). so happy you posted these recipes, I will definitely give them a go soon. never seen wasabi sesame seeds before... cute!

Unknown said...

I love all your crackers particularly the rye crip! The Finnish sour dough crisp is really interesting especially that it keeps for so long!

Anonymous said...

These are really interesting cracker recipes, I cant wait to try them - particularly the brown rice crackers. Thanks!

The Betz Family said...

Lovely flavor combinations! Nice job on the challenge!

Poisonive said...

Wow - great job on the crackers! You make me want to try my hand at baking!

Anonymous said...

Very lovely recipes. Inspiring

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