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Archive for the ‘crackers’ Category

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I was going to begin this with my usual, “where did month go?” but |I had to change it to, “where is my motivation?”. Don’t get me wrong, I cook and bake everyday (well, I cook everyday and bake 2-3 times a week), it’s just that my desire to write about a recipe is just not there. Maybe it’s the dark winter nights, but by 8pm I just want to crawl into bed with my husband and a good book (I’m reading The Orphan Master’s Son right now). I really only have time to sit at the computer after my little girl goes to sleep and I just have had no motivation to stay in the kitchen and type away. I have been baking up some nice things though… Banana bread with pecans, Cornflake crunch-marshmallow-chocolate chip cookies, Brioche, Ciabatta, Blueberry-meyer lemon fruit crisp with honey-sour cream ice cream, and these…
individual chocolate cakes layered with DSC_1946raspberries and creme fraiche whipped cream. They are encased with chocolate sheets and drizzled with raspberry coulis. There were six cakes made altogether  and made for the perfect dessert to a dinner party with friends. The cake itself was vegan and one day I will get around to posting the recipe. Just not now.

With all that said, it is the end of the month and time for the Daring Baker’s Challenge! Thank goodness that I love participating every month and that at least I am forced to do one post. Yahoo! Our host this month is Sarah from  All Our Fingers in the Pie. She has challenged everyone to make crisp crackers and/or flatbread. Who doesn’t love a crispy cracker?? well, maybe someone without teeth, but luckily  I still have all my chompers! My first thought was raincoast crackers since I make them quite often, but decided to go with something different since I didn’t have any buttermilk  in the house at the time. What I did have though was flour, and water, and… well, you don’t need anything else…. for matzoh! And to be perfectly honest, I was planning on doing 2 or 3 crackers but I ended up baking matzoh four times this month! I forgot how much I like these and because they are so easy, delicious and addictive (seriously).

This is one of those ridiculously easy recipes but they are sooooo much better than those cardboard things in the store (which I can’t even find here in Calgary). A few things to note: you oven must be hot before you start baking, so turn it on to 450F at least 45 minutes before you start. A baking stone is also very useful. Place it in your cold oven before turning it on; this ensures your stone has enough time to heat up and so that your stone doesn’t crack. If you don’t have a baking stone use a large baking sheet instead. Just make sure that you place it in the cold oven and let it heat up the entire 45+ minutes. These only take a few minutes to cook and it needs that hot surface to do so. You will also need a rolling-pin so you can roll out your dough paper-thin. If you have one of those fancy pastry dockers, then this is the time to break it out. I don’t so I use the tines of a fork instead. Works great and takes about 10 seconds longer. You don’t get that perfectly even docked effect that you see on store-bought versions but who wants store-bought anyway? Not me. Oh, and you will need another flat baking sheet to act as a pizza peel to transfer the uncooked matzoh into the oven, Unless you own a pizza peel. I do not, and  I seem to manage just fine with a rimless baking sheet as my trusty substitute.  One day I will have dream kitchen with room for all of my fun toys…

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You can change this up anyway you like.  A wonderful presentation is to very lightly brush the cooked and cooled matzoh with some olive oil that has been seasoned with fresh garlic, a pinch of salt and finely minced parsley. Just break off pieces and place in a small bowl while entertaining;  your guests will go wild over this. You could also replace some of the white flour with whole wheat flour (just add a touch more water). One of my favorites is to add 1/4 cup of sesame seeds to the dough (as seen in these pictures)  but I am sure that flax seeds would be just as tasty. Or dried herbs. How about 1/2 teaspoon of chipotle powder?  Mmmm….. Bake On!

Preheat your oven to 450F and place a baking stone or baking sheet in the center of the oven. Let the oven and stone/sheet preheat for 45 minutes.

Matzoh

1  3/4 Cups (about 7 oz)  unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

3/4 Cup (6 oz) water, room temperature

(another variation is to substitute some of the water with a little oil)

Place the flour into a large mixing bowl. If you want to add seeds or spices/herbs, stir into the flour now. Make a well in the center of your flour and slowly add the water , stirring with a large wooden spoon until the dough comes together. You might need a bit more water depending on where you live and the weather. Knead for 3 or 4 minutes (either by hand or stand mixer w/dough attachment). The dough should be slightly tacky. Cover with a clean tea towel and set aside for 5 minutes.

Feb 21, 2013

Generously  flour you work surface. Take the dough and divide it into 10 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll it out as thinly as you can. You should almost be able to see through the dough.  Sprinkle flour over the surface as you do this to prevent it from sticking. With the tines of a fork (or a docking tool) prick the matzoh all over to dock it. Pick the matzoh up and place it onto a flat (rimless) baking sheet. Open the oven and quickly transfer the matzoh onto the hot baking stone. Bake the matzoh for about 3 to 4 minutes. Check after two minutes as ovens differ. They will be light colored with some brown bits and bubbly all over. I use a pair of tongs to remove the matzoh so I don’t have to keep the oven door open long. Repeat with the remaining dough until all are baked. Let them cool completely. They will get crispier as they cool. If you can, wait until the next day to eat them. Enjoy!!

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recipe source: A Bakers Odyssey by Greg Patent (fantastic book)

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Crackers

The July Bakers challenge is being hosted by Dana McFarlane , a non-blogger who loves to create in the kitchen. She has challenged us with the (almost) lost art of homemade crackers. I say lost art since you very rarely see homemade crackers served anymore. What a shame since you can personalize it at home yourself, though I will admit it is a lot easier to purchase premade crackers at the last-minute, and there are a lot of good ones on the market. But can they be as good as your own?

I wish I had concentrated on this challenge more since I have quite a few  cracker recipes that I enjoy making but summertime fun and entertaining has pretty much taken up all of my time. Not to mention the fact that I went down to Montana this past weekend to go cherry picking (and Glacier National Park). Oh, and I am leaving in 1 1/2 hours for the airport to go to New York for a month (and still not quite packed…) so this has to be quick.

The crackers I chose to bake are sesame crackers from Bernard Claytons New Complete Book Of Breads. These are super easy to whip up but  a pasta machine is very helpful to roll them out thin and even (though I am sure that when there is a will there is a way, so don’t let this stop you). We really enjoy these with some hummus and they keep really well so you can always have some on hand. We were provided with three other excellent recipes that I promise to get to and post at a later date. In the meantime go check out some other fabulous bakers here. Bake On!

SESAME CRACKERS

1 Cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup hot water (120-13o F)
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1/2 cup sesame seeds
egg white for brushing
Mix together 1 cup each whole wheat and white flours and add the yeast and salt.  In a separate bowl, mix together the hot water, butter, honey and sesame oil. Pour the liquid slowly over the flours and beat with the paddle attachment (or a  wooden spoon ) on low-speed for 3 minutes . Add the white flour, 1/4 cup at a time to forma soft dough.

Knead for 5 minutes (by hand or with the dough hook). Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 375 F

Divide the dough into 4 pieces, covering the dough you are not working with). In a pasta machine, or with a rolling-pin, roll the dough into a thin rectangle, as thin as you get it (I went to 5 on my roller). Worry more about the thinness than it’s length or width (insert jokes here). Place the length of dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet and cut strips about 1-2 inches wide. Dock with a fork (that just means to pokes holes all over the dough with the tines of a fork). Brush with a little white and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 6 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cracker. Watch them carefully!. Let cool completely then break off into pieces. They keep 2 -3 weeks in a covered container.

Okay, 40 minutes left to pack!!

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Biscotti Picante

Biscotti and wine anyone? How about wine in biscotti? For their 4th anniversary, the Bread Baking Babes celebrated with a little vino. Lien, of http://notitievanlien.blogspot.com, chose a Sicilian biscotti that is savory; a little sweet (from anise),  slightly spicy (from black pepper), with a little wine to boot. The recipe comes from the Anissa Helou book “Savory baking from the Mediterranean”.

This being my second month at being a BB Buddy, I was eager to have a go at this and bought some semolina  the next day. Yes, eager, until it failed pretty miserably. OK, here was my thinking : instead of using white wine, use anisette. I love the of anise, and thought “yes, this would really bring out the anise flavor”, even though the recipe calls for 1/4 cup of anise seed already. How about some grated parmesan Reggiano thrown into the mix? And while I’m at it, how about a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes to heat it up a bit. Well. you know what? WRONG (though I still think the parmesan could work).  It never rose at all and they came out like dense hockey pucks. A little too spicy as well (note to self: 3/4 teaspoon of pepper flakes is way too much). I believe  my failure started  in using the anisette instead of the wine. I think the sugar content was too high for a rise – even after two hours. Maybe with an overnight rise? who knows. The fat in the parmesan cheese only added to this problem. I think. I am a novice bread baker after all.

my failed attempt

Then the other day I decided to give it another the go. The way the recipe is written, and you know what? They are really good. My husband still doesn’t care for them, but I have decided that I like them. A lot. The only minor change I did was to use a mixture of flax, sesame, and poppy-seed in mine. I let them rise a lot longer today since my house is pretty chilly, and while it doesn’t really rise, it did get puffier. I cut them thinner this time so they are a tad too golden, but I can live with that.  So get the recipe,  pour yourself a glass of wine, and enjoy a small taste of Sicily.

Please visit the current Bread Baking Babes to see the real masterpieces:

http://foodblog.paulchens.org/, http://feedingmyenthusiasms.blogspot.com/, http://etherwork.net/blog/, http://lucullian.blogspot.com/, http://notitievanlien.blogspot.com, http://bakemyday.blogspot.com/, http://breadchick.com/, http://livinginthekitchenwithpuppies.blogspot.com/, http://iliketocook.blogspot.com/, http://www.wildyeastblog.com/, http://mykitcheninhalfcups.wordpress.com/

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Raincoast crackers

When we have friends over for dinner I like to serve a light appetizer before dinner while we are having cocktails. Nothing too heavy, I don’t everyone too full for dinner, but something to hold them over while we all get cozy and catch up with each other. They sell a similar cracker to this in the stores but it is so expensive (who can afford $8 for a small box?) that it is much easier and economical to make your own at home. You can really improvise with this recipe. Any combination of nut,seed, and flavoring will work. I really like tart dried cherry and walnut or hazelnut,orange zest and raisin . You make these like a biscotti, meaning they are twice baked.
These go exceptionally well with goat cheese, figs, and a drizzle of honey (and a martini). You get a lot of crackers from this one loaf, so you can always keep half of it in the freezer until a later date; just let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before slicing for the 2nd bake.

I need to add a footnote here. This past week was my husband’s birthday and every year we celebrate with a trip to Chico Hot Springs in Montana. It is our favorite place to vacation. No TV or computers  – hooray!! It is the best family vacation. Ever.I made a batch of these to bring so we could have a light afternoon snack and gave the last of these to Amy, one of the many wonderful staff there, that always make our stay so special. This recipe is for you.

ROSEMARY PECAN CRACKERS
Makes about 72 pieces

Smooth out the top before baking

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. spelt flour or whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp. liquid honey
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1 c. chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
2 Tablespoons sesame seed
2 Tablespoons whole flaxseed
2 Tablespoons pumpkin seed
2 Tablespoon sunflower seed

Preheat your oven to 375 F

– In bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, spelt flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Stir in butter and honey; stir in buttermilk. Add the remaining ingredients; stir to combine.
– Scrape into greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, smoothing top.It will be quite thick and sticky; I find that if you wet your spatula or give it a quick spay with PAM that you can easily smooth the top down.
Bake until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack; cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until semi-solid, about 2 hours.
– With serrated knife, cut into 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick slices. Cut in half crosswise and arrange on 2 baking sheets.
– Bake in top and bottom thirds of 300F oven, rotating and switching pans and turning crackers over halfway through, until browned and crisp, about 30 minutes. Let cool on pans on rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Slice thin before baking a second time

Recipe adapted from one given to me from Andrea

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