Funny how things just kind of fall into place sometimes. I had been going ever so slightly "crackers" for about two weeks trying to decide what to make for my contribution to this month's Tackling Bittman event. Don't get me wrong, this was not because there are any shortage of great Mark Bittman recipes to make, as a browse through his fabulous book "How to Cook Everything" or HTCE iPhone application will reveal. It was more a case of there being so many great recipes to choose from that I was having trouble deciding. The solution in the end, virtually found itself.
You see, lunchtime rolled around yesterday, at which time I headed for the fridge and pulled out the bowl of hummus I'd made the day before, which quite coincidentally had been made using this Mark Bittman recipe I've posted before. That was when I realised that I was completely out of the pumpkin seed crackers I usually like to have. Toast didn't seem right, no pita bread in the freezer, and I didn't feel like going out just to get crackers, and that was when I decided to turn to Bitty for help.
Out with my trusty iPhone, and sure enough a quick search turned up a recipe for homemade crackers. The dough is very simple, takes just moments to make, and is infinitely variable. I chose to use olive oil instead of butter as the shortening (as I wanted the olive oil flavour); I also added in some freshly grated parmesan and fresh rosemary, and sprinkled a little flaky sea salt over the top before baking. You could really add any herbs or freshly ground black pepper to dough; nuts and seeds would also make good additions either gently kneaded into the dough or sprinkled over the top; you can also make cream crackers by substituting cream as the binding liquid when you make the dough. Are you starting to get the picture? All told, about 20 minutes from start to finish and I had a batch of beautiful, crispy, Parmesan and Rosemary Crackers. These tasted fantastic, and were a beautiful compliment to the hummus. I'd like to be able to tell you that these keep well, but the truth is that they're gone already - next time I'll be doubling the recipe!!
Parmesan & Rosemary Crackers
Adapted from Mark Bittman's
Makes about 24
Click here for a printable copy of the recipe
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1-1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup water, plus extra as needed
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F). Lightly dust two baking sheets with flour or line with parchment paper.
Put flour, salt, olive oil and parmesan together in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until combined. Add water and let the machine run for a bit, then add extra water a teaspoon at a time until the mixture comes together but is not sticky. Lastly pulse in the rosemary.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out thinly, adding more flour if needed.
Transfer the rolled out dough to your prepared baking sheet. Score lightly with a sharp razor or pastry wheel to form squares or rectangles. (I think that next time I would also prick each of the squares in a couple of places with a fork - you will see why in a moment.) Sprinkle flaky sea salt over the top.
Bake in the preheated oven until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, and store (yeah, right!) in an airtight container.
My first sheet of crackers turned into something that looked rather like a giant puff ball, and whilst it was nice and crispy on top was still soft on the bottom - tasted fantastic, but was rather more like very thin pita bread than crispy cracker.
This was where it became obvious to me that I needed to, firstly score the dough a little more firmly than I had originally done, and secondly prick the dough. I also reduced the temperature of my oven for the second sheet of crackers to 190 degrees C (375 degrees F) - you may need to play around with that according to your oven - and set the oven rack a little lower down in the oven than the first time around.
Final verdict - perfectly crispy little crackers, made in less time than it would take to dash out to the supermarket, and at a fraction of the price. With numerous variations to explore you can bet that I will be making these again - often!!
Interested in cooking some more with Mark Bittman? I highly recommend any of these Mark Bittman books:
Available from Amazon, Book Depository UK, and Fishpond NZ
This post is my submission to this month's Tackling Bittman blog hop. If you're a Bittman fan, please come on over and join in the fun.