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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Flax Seed & Cracked Pepper Crackers {Joy the Baker Cookbook Spotlight & Cook-Off}

Much like a good loaf of bread, I can make a meal out of some good crackers.  Pair them with a tasty cheese or two and some fruit...perhaps some sort of artisan salami and a good bottle of wine.  Oh yes.  That's totally my kind of eats.  And for some reason, it makes me feel cool.  Like I'm Italian.  Or French.  Okay, that happens more with bread, but crackers aren't a far cry.

And really.  If you've never tried making your own crackers?  Remedy that situation.  Soon.  Crackers are good for munching, but homemade crackers will make you infinitely cooler.   And they'll taste better; they'll be better.  You know.  For your body.  Because you'll know exactly what is in them.  And that's totally cool.

Might I recommend you start with these?  Silky golden flax seeds that you'll want to run your fingers through.  Peppercorns that you've cracked and mashed in your little mortar.  Tangy buttermilk.  Oh yeah, it's like that.

They rock when topped with a shmear of goat cheese.  Herby or not.  I kinda like topping them with some ragged shards of Parmesan.
Let's talk logistics.  Number one.  Don't be afraid to adjust the consistency of the dough once you've kneaded it together.  I added an extra splash or two of buttermilk.  Because on this day, in my kitchen, it needed it.  

Number two.  Put some muscle into it...roll, Roll, ROLL!  Get it thin.  Dust it with flour if it sticks.  And invest in a bench scraper.  Because then, even if it sticks to the board, you can slide that baby underneath and lift the dough off with ease. 

Number three.  Understand that cookbook authors are only human.  As are cookbook editors.  And accept that even though the cracked pepper was left off the ingredient list in the book, you can simply ask.  Or guess.  A half a teaspoon is how it should read.  And if you want to add a little extra just because?  Do it.  It'll give you this little underlying current of heat that makes you smile each time you take a bite.  

And number four.  Don't ditch your scraps.  Re-roll them.  And wind up with 3 dozen more crackers than the recipe calls for.  The crackers are worth it.  You're worth it. 

If you haven't done so yet, be sure to head over and check out my interview: 9 Questions with Joy the Baker ...and add your 10th question for a chance to win your own copy.  Trust me, you need this book in your life.  Submissions will be accepted until Monday 2/20!
Flax Seed & Cracked Pepper Crackers

by Heather Schmitt-González (slightly adapted from Joy Wilson)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 12-18 minutes
Keywords: bake side snack appetizer sugar-free vegetarian flax
Ingredients (~7 dozen crackers)
  • ¼ c. golden flax seeds
  • ¼ c. ground flaxseed meal
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • ½ c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ~½ tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
  • ½ c. buttermilk
Whisk together flaxseed, flaxseed meal, flours, baking soda, salt, and cracked black pepper in a medium bowl.

Add the butter and quickly work the butter into the dry ingredients, using your fingers. Some of the butter will resemble oatmeal flakes while some will be the size of small pebbles.

Make a well in the center of the mixture. Add the buttermilk and use a fork to bring all of the ingredients together. Make sure that every bit of flour is moistened by the buttermilk. The dough will be shaggy. Adjust consistency with a bit more buttermilk as needed.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead together about ten times to bring dough together. Wrap in plastaic wrap and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.
Place a rack in the center of oven and preheat to 325° F. Line baking sheet with parchment or a silpat. Remove dough from fridge and cut in half. Put half back in fridge while you work with the other half.

Place dough on a floured work surface and roll out as thinly as possible using a floured rolling pin. Don't be afraid to sprinkle on some more flour if it seems to stick. Roll just thinner than ⅛" - the thinner the dough, the crisper the cracker. Use a 1½" round cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out circular crackers. Alternately, use a pizza cutter or bench scraper to cut 1½" squares. Or use a small cutter of any shape in about the same size. Prick each cracker with the tines of a fork and place on prepared sheet. I was able to fit 24 circles of dough this size per tray.
Bake crackers for ~15-18 minutes or until edges are slightly golden. Depending on your oven and how thinly you rolled the dough, you may want to check sooner. I had a couple of batches ready at around 12 or 13 minutes.

Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack, and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

slightly adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook
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*This post is part of the Joy the Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef*
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Would you like to comment?

  1. I love to make crackers! really they are the best thing and they go well with almost everything, yours look perfectly crispy and delicious

  2. ThemadscientistskitchenFebruary 18, 2012 at 5:27 AM

    Love this one.

  3. More crackers.  I think I'm being nudged into crackerdom.  I've never made them and would love to try.  I have no excuse like I don't have a recipe I trust.  :)  These look great.

  4. Everyone's talking about this cookbook, Heather. And if these crackers are any indication, it's a good one!
    Love that you made the soup for Delia. She was a fun game changer to write about!

  5. These look great, Heather! Way better than the crackers I've made in the past (using cookie cutters is clever).

  6. Insert "I'm not worthy" bow here.  Heather, you have kicked butt with these crackers.  Love the photos, the description, the smear of goat cheese, the little hearts, that last photo with the apple, cheese and black and white cow back drop.  It all makes me want to make these again.  GREAT post.

  7. These look pretty amazing! So much better then from a box

  8. That's definitely my kind of meal! I've never tried to make crackers, but you have convinced me. Oh, and I'll be purchasing a bench scraper this week, too.

  9. As you know, I love to make crackers. Thanks for the recipe. I just happen to have flax seeds in the house.

  10. am sick in bed this morning and lying here drinking a diet Dr Pepper and eating from a large bag of the salty snacks that are shaped like little cones. You know the ones. And they are leaving this lardy coating on the inside of my mouth that tastes of sloth and guilt. Lol! But if I had made THESE before I got sick I would have been ready! Plus I read that flax is good for my kid with excema. So I'm doing' it when I get better!

  11. Wow!!!  You really out did your self on this one, Heather!  That last photo belongs in a magazine or a fancy gourmet cookbook!  Simply stunning!  

    Homemade crackers are on my list of things to try.  

  12. These really sound delicious, Heather. My family loves homemade crackers and I'll have to make these as a treat for them. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

  13. I love crackers! These sound and look terrific flavoured with cracker peppers.

  14. thefarmerandtheartistFebruary 18, 2012 at 9:27 PM

    I would love it if you shared this with my readers at
    Love the blog!

  15. Couscous & ConsciousnessFebruary 19, 2012 at 1:48 AM

    Gorgeous.  I got addicted to home made crackers after I made Mark Bitman's recipe for crackers, but haven't made them for ages.  Thanks for the reminder - I can't wait to try this version.

    Thanks so much for sharing these at Cookbook Sundays.


  16. I love your description of how you made these - I've never made crackers before but I know they must be one of those things that leave you feeling really satisfied with yourself.

  17. I've never made crackers before but I can definitely graze on crackers, cheese and fruit for some time along with a nice glass of wine. The crackers look fantastic, I love your photo's!

  18. Your apple and cheese board look so good, and I loved having mine with goat cheese too!

  19. Great, great idea to make your own crackers! And these sound perfect.

  20. Those look amazing! I've never made crackers, but you're right, I do need to remedy that!

  21. I haven't prepared my own crackers yet. Your write up, step by step pics and your words inspire me to try these lovely crackers soon!! :)

  22. I kinda wish I had made these in addition to the brownies, but my family is SUPER fond of crackers and cheese so I'm making them for our next gathering. For sure!

  23. You have me wanting to make crackers! I bet with this recipe on hand, you'd think twice about buying them.

  24. These look so good. I am a bit bummed that I didn't make them but I have a hard time leaving crackers alone and they aren't really on my challenge diet. I will bookmark them to make soon. ;-)

  25. These crackers look so pretty with the flecks of black pepper running through them.  You have me thinking that I really need to give cracker making a second try (my first attempt wasn't so successful).

  26. girl is there anything you cannot master, these crackers are stunning... the last shot is killa!

  27. I have been wanting to try making crackers. Yours look wonderful.

  28. I can definitely make a meal out of crackers, cheese and some good wine - in fact it's one of our favourite treats. I have never made my own crackers though...but I think that is about to change. These look and sound so good - really healthy and wholesome, not to mention delicious!

  29. Great looking crackers - they look delicious and very nutitious! Love the photos too!