Ever since I started playing with Sourdough (SD) starters some years ago, I had been addictively baking mainly SD crackers in various variants and slyly avoiding baking those gorgeous looking breads that I always gazed at on the internet. A lack of time, patience and focus … and hitherto, skill, is what had been holding me back. Hence it is ironical that my newly created bread loaves have found their way into my blog before the crackers could but now it is time to erase that injustice and place these crisp beauties in their due glow of limelight.
There are so many versions that one can make and they are such simple and forgiving recipes, that I will not be surprised if they become an obsession for you too.
Am starting you off with one of the basic ones which are wholegrain and vegan too. Later we will move on to my other variations in the coming blogs. You can play with the ingredients and create your own favorite flavors and textures too and do not blame me if you get hooked on to them.
Currently in this Corona lockdown, I am literally baking a fresh set a day, mainly because they are (not so) mysteriously disappearing soon after emerging from the oven.
SD discard –
As I mentioned in the earlier post on Sourdough, SD discard is the excess starter that one usually scraps while feeding the starter afresh. It is a wonderful ingredient to use, its name notwithstanding and I have never thrown any of it away.
Do not misled by its dull and gloopy countenance, for this substance adds great value to the flavor and texture of the products that it is used in. I have used it in rotis, naans, kulchas (all Indian flatbreads) and of course in crackers and I have many lofty plans for other future bakes too.
The Process –
I first came across SD crackers when my bread guru Ponnanna used to conduct SD bread baking classes in my house many years ago. This was a part of showing the students what they could do with their discard and also helped to fill in the passive time between Stretches and Folds etc and also fill in their tummies as they worked hard on the breads. I should probably not mention that it also led to most of the students getting addicted to it and till date some of them have only baked crackers and not the bread (you know who you are :-D)
Well the procedure is ridiculously simple and is mainly a mixing of the ingredients into a dough, chilling it, rolling it, marking crackers of any shape and then baking it.
The temperature, time etc of baking, depends on several factors and you will figure out what you have to do, as and when you do it. I will be documenting my recipe here but remember that you have to find your own sweet spot in your process and oven.
Basic SD Crackers recipe –
Ponanna used to have a buttery and high calorie but delicious recipe but I have completely tweaked this by referring to various recipes on the net, including the one on the King Arthur Flour website.
Approximately 1 hour plus optional chilling time.
Makes – One 10×14 inch tray or around 50 crackers.
1 – Whole wheat SD Discard – 125 gm – See Notes
2 – Whole wheat flour – 50 gm
3 – Olive oil – 20 gm (or any neutral oil) – See Notes
4 – Salt – 1/2 teaspoon
5 – Sumac – 1 teaspoon (or any dry herb) – this is optional
6 – Chilli flakes – 1 tsp – this is optional
Equipment that I used –
Aluminum baking tray – 10×14 inch
Silpat mat – 9.5×14 inch
(you can bake directly on the greased tray if you do not have a Silpat mat)
1. You can take fresh starter or use your old discard and weigh it out into a bowl.
2. Add the oil, salt, chilli flakes, sumac and other herbs if using. (You can also add the chilli flakes later after rolling). Mix everything thoroughly with a spatula. I prefer a Silicon spatula.
3. Add in the whole wheat flour and knead it into a dough.
4. This can be used right away but I prefer to cling wrap and place in an airtight box and chill it overnight. I feel it gives crisper results but maybe that’s just a feeling.
5. Take out the chilled dough and let it come to room temperature to make it easy to roll. I prefer rolling it chilled but you can go according to your convenience. Roll it into a rectangle directly on the Aluminum tray which should be greased or roll it on the Silicon mat. Roll as thin or thick as you like and try to go upto the edge of the tray or mat. The thinner it is, the quicker it will get crisp.
6. You can mark out crackers of any shape and size. I sometimes use a pizza cutter and at times I use the triangle that is used for decorating cake icing. This gives the crackers a nice serrated border.
7. Preheat the oven to maximum. Mine is 250 deg c.
8. Place the Silicon mat on the tray and place the tray in the oven. If you have directly rolled on the tray then you will place just the tray in the oven.
9. Keep an eye on the crackers. If your oven heats unevenly, flip the tray 180 deg after 10 min. Monitor the temperature. In my oven I keep it at maximum for around 20 minutes and then lower it to 180 deg c for another 10 minutes.
My oven has issues hence I need a higher temperature but remember that baking time and temperature is very dependent on how thin you have rolled, how crisp you want your crackers and of course how your oven generally behaves. So you have to find your own way here.
10. Sometimes after 30 min I leave the crackers in the oven for another 10 min after switching off. I leave the door ajar so that they can crisp up without moisture building up inside.
11. The crackers usually come apart on their own after baking and hence are easy to separate.
12. They can be stored in an airtight box for 2-3 weeks though as I mentioned before, they do not even see the end of the day in my house 😎
A day before baking, remember to feed and build up your SD starter to the required weight. If you want a stronger sour flavor, then build up the starter even a week before baking. A fresher starter will have a milder flavor.
The amount of oil or butter you use, will affect the texture of your crackers. More fat gives a better texture. I use minimal oil and get a dryish texture which I am fine with.
Here are some more variants –
Crackers with moringa powder and egg wash –
2) Using some random left over restaurant chilli sauce 😎 –
I hope you will successfully try this recipe and I would really appreciate if you leave your feedback in the Blog comments.