Friday, May 2, 2014

Flax Seed Crackers

Last Year's Post: Venetian Shrimp and Scallops
Two Years Ago:  Chicken Salad with Fruits and Peppadews

I have to smile.  Whenever I make something readily available in a store, I always see my mother giving me that concerned "where-did-I-go-wrong" look and asking me "Why would you ever make something you can simply buy at the store?"  Because it's more interesting and much cheaper than buying a box of crackers at the store.  Because I will customize the recipe and make it mine. And because it's a fun project for a rainy or snowy day to do with someone else, maybe even a child.  The more children get involved in cooking, the more foods they're willing to try.

Have you ever thought of making crackers?  It's really easy and they keep fresh in a zip top bag for weeks.  This particular version has flax seeds which we all know are really good for you, but you could use literally any seeds you want. The flax seeds have a nutty taste and crunchy texture.

Sesame and poppy seeds are also a great combination.  Besides varying the seeds, you can add a topping of coarse salt or not.  You can also create big, dramatic broken crackers like a restaurant, or you can score the dough to make smaller rectangles or squares - I made one batch of each to show you the difference.  Choices, choices.

The key is to roll the dough as thin and as evenly as possible to make the crispiest crackers.  Although you could bake both batches in the oven at once and rotate them between the upper and lower thirds of the oven halfway through, I've found that never works very well in practice which is why I prefer baking each batch separately in the middle of the oven.

unscored batch

unscored batch after baking

scored into squares
after baking
However you decide to make your crackers, it's a fun and delicious little project.

printable recipe
Flax Seed Crackers
Makes approximately 40 – 60 crackers depending on size

Note: flax seeds are available in health food stores and some grocery store bulk aisles

½ cup flax seeds
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons butter, softened
½ cup low-fat milk
Coarse kosher or sea salt for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350d with the rack in the middle of the oven.

Put flax seeds, flour, baking powder, salt and butter into a large bowl.  Using a hand or stand mixer, mix on low until the butter resembles coarse meal.  (Alternately, mix by hand.)  Add the milk and mix until dough comes together.  Set the mixer aside and use your (clean!) hands  to completely incorporate all the flour and seeds (this just takes a few seconds, you’re not kneading the dough) and form into a ball.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 10 minutes.

Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the piece of dough to a rough rectangle as thin as possible without tearing, about 1/16-in thick.  (If you own a pasta machine you can use it to roll the dough.  Lightly flour the pasta roller and flatten the dough until it will pass through the first setting.  Go to the highest number your roller will allow without tearing the dough.  Cut in half to fit your baking sheet if necessary.)

Optional:  sprinkle the dough lightly with coarse salt and roll over lightly with the rolling pin to adhere the salt to the dough.  Transfer to a large baking sheet.  If desired, score the dough into square or rectangular cracker shapes.    Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until crisp and golden.  Remove and let cool before breaking apart.

Repeat with the other portion of dough.

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