Rosemary crackers

Hello, it’s March already. Where did February go? It’s not like I’ve been doing anything other than working and staying home. Hope you are safe and well.

This new recipe produces crackers that are so tasty, just the right level of crispy (that is, they don’t dislodge your fillings) and are deceptively quick and easy to make.

It is easiest to make them with a pasta machine, but you can prepare them with a rolling pin, so don’t worry if you haven’t got a pasta sheeting gadget.

One last thing to add, I know not everyone likes mustard (I’m not a huge fan myself) but do try them with the mustard in as it adds a real umami pep to the flavour which doesn’t come across that ‘mustardy’ if you know what I’m trying to say. If you can’t bring yourself to add the mustard powder substitute a hot paprika instead.

Equipment

  • Two large baking trays, lined with parchment/baking paper
  • Large bowl
  • Pasta machine or rolling pin
  • Sharp knife
  • Wire cooling rack

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour (spelt can be used instead of wheat if you prefer)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (each about 6-7cm long)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly milled black pepper
  • 90ml water
  • 35ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Extra flour for dusting

Method

  1. Wash and dry the rosemary (if you think it needs it) and strip the leaves off the stalks
  2. Turn the oven on to 180C fan/ 200C conventional oven
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients together (flour, salt, mustard, pepper) and the rosemary leaves
  4. Make a well in the middle and pour in the oil and water and start combining. You may want to use a fork or a Dutch dough whisk for this, but hands are good!
  5. Bring it together and try not to overwork it – knead just enough to combine it so it forms a ball
  6. Set up your pasta machine or roll out by hand. You’ll probably need a little extra flour for dusting your work surface if you’re rolling by hand, but I’ve found this dough goes through the pasta machine quite well without extra flour. If you think it needs it though as it’s sticking, use a little.
  7. Roll out (either method) to about 1.5mm thickness – with these crackers you are limited by the thickness of the rosemary leaves and the height of the cracked pepper. Basically, roll out as thin as you can
  1. Cut into rectangular strips, about 4cm x 20cm
  1. Lay them on the prepared baking sheets. They don’t need much space between them as they don’t expand much
  2. Bake for 13-15 minutes. The crackers should be starting to turn brown and will have bubbled up in places
  3. Transfer to a wire rack to cool
  4. Great eaten with dips (such as Pesto and roasted butternut squash dip) or olive oil or as a main meal accompaniment

Cider and olive oil crackers

crackers.jpgThere are plenty of crackers on the supermarket shelves to choose from. Go further afield to your local deli and there’ll be packs of posh versions with arty designs and hipster names. But have you ever made your own? They’re incredibly easy, and in an additional stroke of luck, the more ‘rustic’ the shape the more artisan they look.

You know me by now that I normally can’t help twiddling with and artifying my food (whether I need to or not).  Sooo not needed with these: the less bothered you are about how you roll them out, the nicer they are. #Result

I know it seems odd putting cider into crackers, but bear with me. You just get that little apple tang which makes a real difference. I originally thought they’d taste a lot more cider-like, so, during my first try of recipe development, I used a 50:50 cider and water mix. I was disappointed with the weak taste, so went straight in with all-cider with the next bakes. I’m not 100% sure this is true but I have suspicions that the fizziness of the cider actually made them slightly crisper as well as tastier as compared to the first batch. (I wonder if this is akin to the trick of using fizzy mineral water in batter?). I may be deluding myself but it’s difficult in a home kitchen to ensure you can get a perfect comparison.

So, you need a ‘decent’ cider. By that I mean something strong, but please not scrumpy-level and steer clear of flat. It’s not a waste of a good drink – by the time you’ve taken out what you need from a bottle there’s still enough for a glass for the chef. Cheers 🍻

I used my favourite cider, which is Aspall’s Premier Cru, but I also tried one version of the recipe with a fruited cider which came out well, but I suggest that if you do go that route, that the crackers really just suit being pared with cheese or as a bread replacement in a ploughman’s lunch. The plain cider versions go great with cheeses and dips of almost any kind. Try my roasted pesto butternut squash dip with them.

Notes

These crackers won’t fit on less than three baking trays, so if you’ve got a large oven, great, but if not you’ll need to bake them in batches. If you use the same baking tray for each batch, the baking tray will still be warm from the first batch so reduce the cooking time by 1 minute for subsequent batches. This is because the crackers will start cooking as soon as they are laid on the hot sheet as they are so thin.

I made this recipe and the roasted pesto butternut squash dip recipe together, so they are a lovely pairing, although either recipe works on its own.

Notes

Makes 16, made to about 25 cm (about 8 inches) long and about 4 cm (3 1/2 inches) at the widest part.

About 20 minutes preparation and 9-10 minutes cooking time per batch (you may get all done at once if you have a big oven: I did mine in two batches)

Equipment

  • Large bowl
  • Measuring jug
  • Rolling pin
  • Large baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper or baking parchment
  • Pastry brush

Ingredients

  • Plain flour – 225g
  • Cider – 105 ml (please note that your may need a little more if your flour has a high protein content)
  • Olive oil – 2 tablespoons (you don’t actually need Extra Virgin for this, though you can use it. My preference is to use something more moderate in taste and lighter in colour like the Classic or the Organic Olive Oils that Filippo Berio makes
  • Salt, fine – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Mustard powder – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Smoked paprika – 3/4 teaspoon
  • Onion granules – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Black pepper – several turns of a pepper mill

 

  • Additional rock salt or crystal salt for sprinkling – about 1 teaspoon
  • Additional olive oil for drizzling

Method

  1. Turn your oven on to 210 ºC / 230 ºC conventional
  2. Weight out the flour, fine salt, mustard powder, smoked paprika, onion ganules and black pepper into a bowl
  3. Gently pour in the cider (if you tip it in it will really fizz) and start to bring the dough together with your fingers or a table knife
  4. Once the dough is starting to form, add the olive oil and bring the dough together with your fingers and the heel of your hand, picking up all the flour from the bowl as you go
  5. Tip out onto a clean surface and knead until the dough has come together in a ball, which should only take a minute or so. Don’t over knead
  6. Prepare your baking trays by lining with greaseproof paper or baking parchment and brush a little olive oil over the paper
  7. Cut the dough into 16 equal sized pieces (the easiest way to do this is by cutting it like pizza slices)
  8. Lightly flour your work surface and roll each piece of dough out lengthways. No need to turn the dough or roll it from side to side, as you want to produce a long, lanky cracker
  9. Each rolled out strip should be as thin as possible – around 2mm thick and be around 25 cm long
  10. Place each strip on the prepared baking sheet as you make it and roll out the rest of the strips
  11. Brush a little more olive oil over each strip of dough and sprinkle over the rock salt
  12. Bake each batch in the oven for 7 minutes, take out and flip crackers over on to their other sides, then bake for 2 minutes more
  13. Leave to cool, and they can be stored in an airtight container for about a week

Olive-oil-crackers-2