Friday, December 14, 2012

Seeded Whole Grain Crackers

Last year I made crackers and I vowed to never, ever make them again...

After spending a couple hours in the kitchen making and rolling dough only to be left with crackers that were either burned or chewy, I became a firm believer that some things are just more convenient to buy. 

Whenever possible I try to make most of my food from scratch.  It's usually cheaper, healthier and fresher than what you would purchase at the supermarket and I enjoy the satisfaction of turning ordinary ingredients into something nourishing and delicious.

Some shredded cabbage and salt will yield a nutrient dense crock of saurkraut. Some oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and sweetner will give you a hearty bowl of granola to enjoy every morning.  Flour, yeast and some salt will give you a loaf of delicious bread. Throw some dried beans, vegetables and spices into a pot and you've got a steaming bowl of soup.  Once you get the hang of making most of your food from whole, unprocessed ingredients, it becomes second nature. 

I've replaced almost all pre-packaged food with healthier counterparts with the exception of a few items, crackers being one of them.  From time to time I make these delicious, raw buckwheat flax crackers, but since they require time for soaking and dehydrating they take a couple days from start to finish.  After finishing my last box of crack- a- lackas, I decided to give cracker making another go.  This time around I would find a different recipe from a reputable source and have a glass of wine while I made them so if they didn't turn out perfect I would be less likely to fling the entire batch across the kitchen in a bout of frustration.

Months ago I ran across a recipe for whole grain gluten free crackers from one of my favorite blogs, My New Roots.  I added the recipe to my favorites, but since I was still in the "homemade crackers are too much damn work" mode I didn't have any intentions in making them anytime soon. 
I happened to have some leftover cooked quinoa and brown rice in my fridge and was looking through my saved recipes for some inspiration. I pulled up the cracker recipe and was pleased to find that it called for quinoa and brown rice AND i had everything else on hand, so I figured I would give it a try one more time.

I'm not gonna lie... these were still a time consuming project, but the end result made it so worth it.  The "dough' came together in no time, throw everything in a food processor and you're done.  Attempting to roll out the dough evenly was the most difficult part.  Roll the dough too thin and you're left with burned crackers, but when it's too thick the crackers take forever to cook.  Don't be discouraged if you face this problem.  Just keep your eye on them.  If you notice some of them start to crisp up (usually the ones along the edges), simply break them off and remove from the oven.  The rest of the crackers will eventually crisp up it just might take alot more time than the recipe calls for. The original recipe said they should take 25-35 minutes, but mine took anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour.  In the end your patience is rewarded when you are left with delicious, unprocessed crackers that put anything you would buy in a box to shame.

The bulk of these crackers is cooked brown rice and quinoa.  Soaked flax seed helps bind the mixture together and toasted sesame seeds are thrown in for crunch.  After creating a base dough, you can pretty much add in whatever you like.  I chose a mixture of poppyseeds, pumpkinseeds and sunflower seeds because that's what I had on hand.  I added some fresh chopped thyme and rosemary to one batch and they came out awesome!  Although I really loved this combination, I could see myself making these again with a couple variations, like adding some finely chopped black olives or garlic or topping the crackers with some fleur de sel, or adding some caraway seeds. 

Seeded Whole Grain Crackers (aka Happy Crackers)
From My New Roots

2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups cooked quinoa
2/3 cup unhulled sesame seeds
½ cup flax seeds

2 Tbsp. tamari
1 tsp. sea salt
3 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 c. Add in's:
Choose any variation of the following:
Nuts/Seeds: sunflower, pumpkin seed, almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, poppyseeds, etc..
Spices/Herbs: thyme, rosemary, garlic, oregano, smoked salt, black pepper, chipotle, etc..

Place flax seeds in a bowl and cover with 1/2 c. water. Let soak for at least 20 minutes. 
In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast seseame seeds until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
Blend the cooled rice, quinoa, soaked flax, salt, tamari and olive oil in a food processor until a dough is created- it should form a ball in the food processor (add water if too dry, one tablespoon at a time). Then add the toasted sesame seeds and pulse to incorporate. The dough will be very sticky.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
Take out the desired amount of dough you want to work with and place it on top of parchment paper.  Add the desired nuts/herbs/spices  (I used poppyseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seedsand fresh chopped thyme) and knead to incorporate.  Season to taste.  Place another piece of parchment on top and use a rolling pin to flatten into a very thin even slab.  Remove the top layer of parchment and using a knife or pizza cutter, score the top of the dough into desired shapes. Slide the parchment on to a cookie sheet and place in the oven.  Bake 25-35 minutes until crispy and golden (cooking time will depend on thickness of dough)
When the crackers are done, remove from oven and let cool five minutes.  Break crackers along score lines, let cool completely and store in an airtight container.  If the crackers have baked unevenly (some are crispy and others are not) place the uncooked ones back on the baking sheet and in the oven until completely dry.  
Crackers keep one week stored in an airtight container.

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