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first attempt, starting from a recipe found online and an excellent
photo essay in the Time-Life Cookies and Crackers volume (which
surprisingly, did not include a recipe): I adapted it to whole wheat,
and enriched with butter in place of shortening, and added the malt
powder and pepper.
These are pretty darn good, and not that
difficult to make. The floured layers make laminations that function
like the butter rolled into flaky pastry, to separate layers and make a
more delicate crisp cracker. Without the flour laminations, a plain
yeast bread of the same thickness would break your teeth.
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon dimalt (not malt sweetener, but enzymatically active malt) (optional)
350 grams hard white wheat, milled very fine with 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 1/4 cups all purpose or bread flour plus 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
275 grams or 1 3/4 cups flour with the yeast, malt and water; cover and
keep in a warm place, and let rise until doubled in bulk; at room
temperature, this should take about 16-24 hours.
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (not for leavening; it neutralizes the acids from long fermentation so the crackers are not sourdough)
1/2 tablespoon water
Dissolve soda in the water in a small bowl.
4 teaspoons buttermilk
2 teaspoons barley malt powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Stir these into the soda and water.
1/4 cup cold butter, grated
the soda, grated butter, and sponge together with the remaining flour
(about 75 grams or 1/2 cup) and knead well. Let rise again another 3-4
Preheat oven to 550°F (no, that's not a typo).
down and knead lightly. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle very
lightly and evenly with the flour. Fold over in thirds. Roll out
again 1/4 inch thick, sprinkle with flour, and fold over again. This
will be the last rolling, so cut the folded dough into three equal
pieces. Roll it directly out on a nonstick liner for your baking
sheet, if you have one, and roll it out to 1/16-1/8 inch thick.
Thinner is better, and giving the dough some extra time to relax
halfway through this last rolling will help roll it thinner.
salt for tops, to taste (optional)
lightly with salt, roll again briefly to press it in. Dock and use a
rolling cutter to mark the lines between the crackers but do not
separate them fully. Slide the liner onto the baking sheet, and bake 8
minutes. (see the cracker primer if this explanation doesn't make sense).
from the oven, separate the crackers at the prepared seams, and flip
them over, and let cool that way while waiting for the rest to bake.
After the last crackers are baked, turn the oven to 250 degrees,
opening the door a crack to let it cool down a little. Return the
crackers to the oven, turned upside down and piled on top of each other
if need be, and let them dry out for another 1-2 hours at this low
heat. This is the easiest way to get them fully dry and crisp without
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