Cracker Mania

Day 7 in our 10-part series and we’ve landed back in Australia and we’re in Sydney.

Crackers!

Crackers!

I mentioned in Part 1 of the series that I would be sharing recipes that intimidated me.  This is one of them.  I’ve seen crackers on other blogs and although I’ve been inspired to take up the challenge, I’ve avoided making them.  I thought it was time I shifted out of my comfort zone and did something new in the Hotly Spiced kitchen.

And the process begins

And the process begins

The crackers were posted by Celia, bread maker extraordinaire.  I started following Celia’s blog because I loved how ‘back to basics’ it is with the chickens and veggie patch in the backyard, the emphasis on buying quality produce over quantity, the restraint on being wasteful, the emphasis on making things from scratch and how she challenges herself to develop new skills.

Leaving the dough to prove

Leaving the dough to prove

Celia was the very first blogger to reach out to me and turn a virtual relationship into a ‘normal’ friendship where we physically spent time together.  Celia introduced me to other bloggers and because of Celia, I have developed lovely friendships people like Tania, Lorraine and Rebecca.

One quarter of the dough

One quarter of the dough

I love Celia’s sense of community.  She’s been living in the same street for quite some time and it seems so have her neighbours.  And why would you leave!  Celia bakes bread and sends it around the street, she makes cakes for their birthdays, sends around eggs and vegetables, makes tempered chocolates and delivers them, holds cooking lessons for the kids in the street and socially, they get together for drinks or a Sunday bar-be-cue.  Wouldn’t you love a neighbour like Celia!

I did get better at this

I did get better at this

And when I say she’s always challenging herself to master new skills, she’s often said on her blog that she’s no good at decorating cakes so currently she’s spending time learning how to become good with a piping bag.

Ready for the oven

There’s a few holes!

I think this cracker recipe must have been one of the first blog posts Celia ever did as it’s from 2009 and there’s just two comments and one of them is hers!  I was attracted to this recipe because I see crackers like this all wrapped up in long, thin, cellophane bags at delis and they’re very expensive.  I wanted to see if I could develop some cracker-making skills and save myself a fortune plus have the satisfaction of, like Celia, developing a new skill.

Perfect with cheese

Perfect with cheese

Was I successful?  Well…let’s just say I think I have a very long way to go when it comes to perfecting crackers.  This recipe makes an enormous volume of crackers so next time I’ll probably halve it.  Everything went very well until it came time to roll out the dough.  You roll it out on parchment paper (didn’t have any) so I used baking paper and as I rolled the dough the paper scrunched up underneath it.  I tried sticking the paper down with tape but with the oil on the bench and the wax on the paper, it wouldn’t stick.  I had trouble getting the dough thin enough and I think I undercooked the first few trays.  These are more crunchy when they’re deeply golden.

I did get better as the process went on and I think that when it comes to crackers, it’s not something you’re going to master on your first attempt, especially if you’re not used to proving and kneading and stretching and rolling dough.

Perfect with cheese

Perfect with cheese

I do have to say though, that with the spices in these crackers, (particularly the fennel), they have a beautiful flavour and are highly addictive.  They are great just on their own but I love them with some brie or blue cheese.

5.0 from 5 reviews
Cracker Mania
Author: 
Recipe type: Crackers
Cuisine: Australian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: Many
 
Cracker Mania - Crackers like lavosh but with yeast added.
Ingredients
  • 1kg (2.2lbs) pizza or bread flour
  • 25gms (2⅕ tspns) dried yeast
  • 3 tspns ground cumin
  • 3 tspns ground coriander
  • 3 tspns ground fennel
  • 2 tspns salt
  • 2½ cups water
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 egg whites, beaten
  • sesame seeds
  • extra salt
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl combine flour and yeast. Add spices and salt and mix well.
  2. Add the water and olive oil and mix with a spatula to create a wet sticky dough. If necessary, use a clean hand to squelch everything together and make sure there are no dry bits remaining. Alternatively, you could try and make the whole thing in a mixer - if you have one that's large enough. Scrape your hand or spatula clean, and cover the dough with a tea towel and rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Turn the dough onto an oiled bench and knead briefly until smooth. It should work easily, as the large amount of oil makes this a very silky dough. Try kneading with the slap and fold method rather than pummelling with the heel of your palm (which doesn’t work well with a wet dough). Spray your scraped-out mixing bowl with oil, then turn the dough into it and cover with oiled clingfilm. Allow to rest for an hour in a warm place, or until doubled in size.
  4. Turn the risen dough onto an oiled bench and fold several times to knock the air out. Divide the dough into four even portions and shape each one into a ball. Pop each ball into an oiled container and cover, then allow to rest for a further hour (this further resting time enables you to stretch the dough very thinly later). You could also just put each ball onto a large sheet of parchment paper, and cover with oiled clingfilm. Make sure they’re not too close together, or they’ll prove into each other.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 175C (350F).
  6. Tear off a sheet of parchment paper the size of your baking tray. Turn a ball of dough onto your paper and gently ease it out. Your aim is to get the dough as thin as possible. Start by lifting and stretching the dough with your fingers, then roll it out even more thinly with a rolling pin. When you think you’ve rolled it as thinly as you can, roll it a bit more. Dust with a little flour if necessary, but don’t use more than you need, or the dough will stiffen up and lose its elasticity. Note: You may need to divide the mixture in half and work with one half at a time. This recipe really does go a long way!
  7. Brush the top of the flattened dough with beaten egg white, then sprinkle generously with sesame seeds and (optional) salt. Cut the dough into large pieces. You can use a pizza cutter but make sure you use something that does cut into your bench.
  8. Slide the dough and parchment onto a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through the cooking time. Allow to cool on a wire rack, and EAT!

For this and more great recipes you can follow Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.

Crackers!

Crackers!

Missed some of this series?  You can catch up by browsing the following links…

Asparagus and Potato Tart from The Orgasmic Chef.

Melting Moments from The Mother Hubbard’s Kitchen.

Bundy and Coke Braised Beef Ribs from The Intolerant Chef.

Easy Pickled Watermelon Rind from Kitchen Riffs.

Flourless Double Chocolate Cake from That Skinny Chick Can Bake.

Crispy Baked Chicken with Tonkatsu Sauce from Just One Cookbook.

The fennel flavour is lovely

The fennel flavour is lovely

Tomorrow, we’re cooking something that all good Aussies grew up on.

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Comments

  1. Yep, these crackers of Celia’s really did look good, Charlie… you’ve done a great job with them! xo

  2. Charlie- I have never had any luck in making crackers – and I think these turned out wonderful! I love your color combo in your pictures! I haven’t been to Celia’s blog – so thank you for the intro!
    Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  3. Crackers intimidate me too, Charlie, but I’m determined to try before the end of the year. You’ve inspired me. 🙂

  4. I swore that 2013 was the year I would master crackers. I haven’t made the first batch yet. I’m so proud of you for giving it a go.

    Celia takes everyone under her wing and makes us all feel like we’re part of her family. Her ability to grow so much food and not to waste one scrap of it leaves me in awe.

    Thanks for featuring her!

  5. I love home made crackers, I can’t wait to try these….And Celia’s blog is fantastic… I am going to make some time to go through some of her earlier recipes! Thanks from sharing! Liz x

  6. Well you are way more of a cracker master than I am! Great job. I love the spices you flavored these with.

  7. Crackers intimidate me too and I’ve never made them though I keep thinking I really should give them a try one day. I’d certainly love to eat them as they sound full of flavour with those spices.

  8. I agree about Celia’s sense of community – she is great at fostering a blogging community and seems to have a lovely offline community. I can also see why crackers are intimidating. It is hard to get them to that crunch stage – so easy to undercook or overcook. (I think probably one of my favourite cracker recipes is the chickpea flour ones.) I’ve never tried a yeasted cracker dough but after finding it hard enough to stretch out pizza dough thin enough to cover the pizza trays I can only imagine how hard it would be to roll out the dough really thinly – sounds lovely

  9. My cracker skills go as far as cutting up pita bread or tortillas and drying them in the oven!! I need to learn this skill as well. Loving all the spices in these, they must’ve been quite fragrant!

  10. I have also forged several friendships w/ bloggers in person. It’s wonderful.

  11. Celia is an absolute gem I have to say! A great friend too 🙂

  12. Now,
    that’s a cracker I could devour!!!
    Of course, w/ some smooth, wonderful cheese! YUmmmmmmm.x

  13. I really adore your blue dish in which that dip was served, gorgeous 😀
    These crackers look lovely!
    And blogger friendships are definitely wonderful 🙂

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  14. These look like a success to me Charlie! The spices certainly do sound lovely as well.
    It’s been wonderful to have some of my ‘Imaginary Friends’ from the interweb become Real People that I can consider real friends- thanks for being one of them xox

  15. These look amazing! I admit, I too, am intimidated by making crackers but you’ve definitely inspired me to try as well!

  16. Hi Charlie, these crackers look amazing, love that you used fennel.

  17. I am always in awe of Celia. She has a natural ability to reach out to people and certainly is a very important person in our community, Charlie. I would never have met you if it wasn’t for her. And i am so glad I did!
    You did a great job with your crackers. I hope that you find them less intimidating now you have seen how easy they were.

  18. I tend to procrastinate cracker making too – something about it just feels hard! I’m impressed with your efforts here and hopefully can take some inspiration to make a batch myself.

  19. These crackers looks super crispy and delicious. You are one up on me as I have not tried to make crackers at home yet, unless dog biscuits count…. LOL These crackers are way too fancy for our pooches..

  20. You’ve inspired me once again, Charlie. The recipes sounds and looks wonderful, if intimidating a bit. You have me wondering if I could use my tortilla press instead of rolling out the dough?????? Lift, stretch, press? Oh, I fear I am lazy.

  21. It sure looks like you DID master these crackers!! They are beautiful.

  22. You’re still two steps ahead of me! I’ve never made crackers but you may have just inspired me. 1kg of flour is a huge amount though so I’ll definitely take your tip and halve it.

  23. Charlie, you are such a sweetheart! Thank you for such kind words, I’m very touched! I can still remember so clearly our first lunch in Mosman – it doesn’t seem that long ago, but it must have been ages! I think your crackers look fantastic – these days we’re much lazier and I usually squish pita bread in a cafe press to make crackers, or use a pasta maker to roll them out (you need a drier dough than this one, but it works well!). I’ll happily show you how I make crackers if you’d teach me how to hold the #%$# piping bag properly! I always end up covered in buttercream! 😀

  24. Charlie, I’m so glad you were honest in describing the process of cracker making as perhaps more challenging at first than one might expect. I am really interested and it’s worth a little practice. I have been known to spend way too much on those pretty little cellophane packages of artisan crackers.They look so perfect when entertaining! I have also really enjoyed the way you highlight cooking blogs that have inspired you. You are so talented that to be introduced to some of your “inspirations” is really fun!

  25. I like your cracker recipe. The one I made a long time ago was too involved. What a fun, delicious recipe! Yum, Hugs, Terra

  26. Making crackers is a challenge but when it works, what a reward! Great job! I love the spices in this recipe.

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