Sunflower + Black Sesame Seed Crackers

January 24, 2017

If you looked around the apartment, you’d guess I was a comfortable minimalist. My closet isn’t overflowing with unworn items or out of season boots. The medicine cabinet is filled just with the products I use on a daily basis. I don’t really keep papers or objects around; if it isn’t in use regularly, it doesn’t have a place to live here. And then you’d come into the kitchen, and I am not sure what you’d think. 

As I’ve been transforming my work and schedule into a freelance-driven, home-office, tackling the organization of the kitchen has been one of my biggest tasks. As it turns out, I’m not a minimalist here; instead the cabinets are filled with jars and bottles of molasses, vinegars and honeys and chocolate bars that have intrigued me.  I’ve managed to gather an apothecary of spices and salts from all over the world, collected as I’ve traveled. The collection of exotic and unexpected grains and flours can only be referred to as a library, and every ingredient has a story. Saffron brought to me as a gift from the Middle East. A bottle of Cuban honey smuggled out of the country in a backpack by another darling (and daring) friend. Jars of tea I picked up in the corners of China. 

Part of the organization process has been to organize all of this goodness of course, but also to clear out the old and make way for the new (because I don’t imagine my collecting habit to dwindle, no matter how curated my closet becomes.) So when we ran out of crackers the other day, and I knew we’d want some for cheese and olives later, I decided to make some up instead of to hop in the car to find a box. The grain library had a few small bags to spare (and I’ve managed to acquire two whole jars of black sesame seeds) and so these easy, tasty, umami little snacks came together with some inspiration from Alice Medrich’s book Flavor Flours.

You don’t need to have your own flour library to make crackers; in fact, you could absolutely substitute the flours I used here for any that you particularly like. In fact, I encourage you to use the flour that you have on hand to see what happens. These particular crackers were a snap because none of the flours I used contain gluten, so you could mix them forever without them being difficult to roll out into cracker shapes. The toothsome, satisfying crunch and gluten-free qualities of these crackers are some of my favorite virtues here; I think its really healthy to try to mix up the kinds of grains that I eat and since I love to have crackers as a late afternoon snack with this crave-able carrot dip, or just with cheese and olives, this is an easy sell for me. 

A few tips on making these: don’t let the baking process be intimidating to you. While the crackers do require your attention while baking, the rolling out process is ridiculously straightforward once you get the hang of it and the product – yummy homemade crackers – is absolutely the budget of your time when you consider what *really* special crackers will cost you at a good grocery store. Now that I’ve made these a few times they’re falling into the regular rotation of weekly things I bake. Maybe you’ll find the same! Lastly, keep a bit of extra water on hand to add to the dough if it isn’t quite sticky enough. You don’t want it to be tacky, but you do want it to form a nice ball of dough while mixing.

Enjoy these, and more from me (and this rather-well-organized-yet-bursting-at-the-seams-with-ingredients-and-excitement-kitchen.) – L

Sunflower + Black Sesame Seed Crackers
  1. 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon // 80 grams brown rice flour
  2. 1/ cup // 80 grams sweet rice flour
  3. 3/4 cup // 80 grams oat flour
  4. 2/3 cup // 80 grams stone-ground cornmeal
  5. 1/2 cup // 65 grams roasted unsalted pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  6. 1/4 cup // 35 grams toasted black sesame seeds
  7. 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon // 40 grams flaxseed meal
  8. 2 tablespoons // 25 grams light brown sugar
  9. 1/1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
  10. 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  11. 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon water (plus more, depending on your altitude)
  12. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  13. 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  14. Flaky salt for sprinking (optional, roughly 1 tablespoon)
  1. Prehead your oven to 450°F degrees, positioning the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the brown rice, white rice and oat flours as well as the cornmeal, seeds, flaxseed meal, brown sugar and salt. Add the water and vinegar and beat on medium speed until a thick, sticky dough forms. (If your dough remains crumbly, you may need to add a bit more water until it starts to wrap around the paddle.) With the mixer running, sprinkle the baking powder over the dough, then add the oil. Beat the dough on medium speed for roughly one minute, until the oil is completely incorporated.
  3. Now, you're ready to start forming crackers! Clear off your countertop or work surface and cut four pieces of parchment paper the size of a baking sheet. Drop three 2-tablespoon sized lumps of dough -evenly spaced- down the center length of one parchment sheet. Cover with another piece of parchment and flatten each lump a little bit with the heel of your hand. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to oblong shapes, about 3-4 x 5-8 inches in size. (The larger the size, the thinner the crackers!) You want each oblong to only be about 1/8 inch thick. Peel away the top piece of parchment, saving it for reuse, and sprinkle each oblong with flaky salt. Then, place the parchment with the dough on it on a baking sheet -- DOUGH SIDE DOWN.
  4. Bake the crackers for 5-6 minutes, two pans at a time rotating them from upper to lower and front to back for even baking, until the crackers are browned at the edges. Once the edges are browned, remove the baking sheet from the oven, peel off the parchment paper gently. Flip the crackers over with a metal spatula carefully, then return the crackers to the oven until the edges are browned on the second side and the crackers are crispy. This can be as little as 3 minutes and as much as 10 minutes -- watch your crackers!
  5. Repeat the rolling and baking process with the remaining dough; while the crackers are baking, continue to roll out more dough and - as soon as the crackers are done - flip the next batch onto the baking sheets. (You can use hot baking pans as long as you pop the crackers into the oven immediately!)
  6. Cool the crackers completely on a wire rack before storing in an airtight container for up to 10 days. Break into pieces and serve! Crackers can be refreshed in the oven (if they aren't crispy) by popping them into the oven for a 5 minutes before serving.

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