Today I'm going to try to encourage you to make your own crackers. It's not that difficult or fussy, and the results are infectiously satisfying. What kind of cracker? The cracker recipe I'm featuring today makes thin, snappy, rustic crackers. Though they are sturdy enough to stand up to a hearty dip. The technique is simple and straightforward (utilizing just a few ingredients) and the dough is a welcoming canvas to all manner of seeds, salts, cheeses, spices, or flavored oils that you might want to use as accents. The crackers are fantastically adaptable in this regard. For those of you intimidated by baking with yeast, no worries, I don't use any here.
You can make these crackers just about any shape you like. You can cut them into wide strips, thin ribbons, precise squares - or simply bake them off in big sheets. They go nicely with the artichoke dip I featured last week. I suspect they'd also be great crumbled over this Caesar salad, or diving deep into Rachel's midnight hummus over on Mighty Foods.
I'm going to list of a bunch of suggested toppings in the head notes of the recipe, but I'd love to hear your suggestions as well. Someone always comes up with a brilliant idea or approach that never would've dawned on me. I think I want to do the next batch topped with lemon zest, poppy seeds, black pepper, and Parmesan...but I suspect I could be persuaded to go a different route ;)...
Update 10/08: Lauren posted a gluten-free version of these crackers on her site.
Olive Oil Cracker Recipe
If you have trouble tracking down semolina flour, just substitute white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour), it will be make a slightly different cracker but should still work. To get creative with your crackers you can top them with lots of things before baking: freshly grated cheese, artisan salts, cornmeal, a dusting of your favorite spice blend, seeds, or a wash of your favorite flavored or infused oil. You can simply cut the unbaked cracker dough into various shapes using one of those pizza cutting wheels.
1 1/2 cups semolina flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
special equipment: pasta machine (optional)
Whisk together the flours and salt. Add the water and olive oil. Using a mixer with a dough hook attachment mix the dough at medium speed for about 5 - 7 minutes. Alternately, feel free to mix and then knead by hand on a floured counter-top. The dough should be just a bit tacky - not too dry, not too sticky to work with. If you need to add a bit more water (or flour) do so.
When you are done mixing, shape the dough into a large ball. Now cut into twelve equal-sized pieces. Gently rub each piece with a bit of olive oil, shape into a small ball and place on a plate. Cover with a clean dishtowel or plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 - 60 minutes.
While the dough is resting, preheat your oven to 450F degrees. Insert a pizza stone if you have one.
When the dough is done resting, flatten one dough ball. Using a rolling pin or a pasta machine, shape into a flat strip of dough - I can usually get down to the 4 setting on my pasta machine w/o trouble. Pull the dough out a bit thinner by hand (the way you might pull pizza dough). You can also cut the dough into whatever shape you like at this point. Set dough on a floured (or cornmeal dusted) baking sheet, poke each cracker with the tines of a fork to prevent puffing, add any extra toppings, and slide into the oven (onto the pizza stone). Repeat the process for the remaining dough balls, baking in small batches. If you don't have a pizza stone, bake crackers a few at a time on baking sheets. Bake until deeply golden, and let cool before eating - you will get more crackery snap.
Makes a dozen extra large crackers.