The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How Skyrim Led to Sourdough Cracker Nirvana

loydb's picture
loydb

How Skyrim Led to Sourdough Cracker Nirvana

I used to have a problem with my crackers, but then I took an arrow to the knee...

For the last month or so, I've been turning all my extra sourdough starter into crackers. With a couple of exceptions, they've been disappointing: not crisp enough, too crisp and burnt, no flavor, too much salt, etc. etc. That all changed a couple of days ago, mostly by accident. I've since successfuly reproduced the recipe three times, and may have it down now.

When I play Skyrim, I play it *loud*. What's the point of hurling your enemies off of a mountaintop with the power of your Shout if it doesn't make the pictures on the wall shake? As a result, I didn't hear the kitchen timer, and only remembered I had crackers in the oven when the smell of "Hey, that smells like something baking" penetrated my dragon-killing frenzy. Instead of the 15 minutes I'd intended to cook them, I ended up cooking them 40 minutes. Fortunately, I'd been experimenting with the pasta machine, and had both made them thicker than normal, and set the oven cooler than normal (350 degrees F instead of the 375 I'd been using). They were perfect.

So I set out to make them again, this time intentionally.

Start with a cup of leftover starter at 100% hydration. Add 1/4 cup oil (I use walnut oil), a tablespoon of softened butter, a teaspoon of salt, and roughly 5 oz of whole wheat flour. You're shooting for fairly stiff. Spray it with olive oil and let it set under plastic for anywhere from 3-6 hours.

Roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick, then sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt, and a pinch of whatever dried herb takes your fancy (I used dill in one batch, thyme in another). Then fold the dough over on itself and roll out again.

Add the seeds of your choice on half of the dough. I used black seasame seeds and brown mustard seed. Fold over again and roll out.

 Chop into smaller pieces, and run it through a pasta machine on the widest setting (#0 on my Atlas). Fold again.

Run these through on #0 again, then on #1, then finish on #2.

Put them on parchment paper, spray with olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt and more seeds. Gently roll them again with a pin to seat the seeds, then dock many, many times with a fork.

Cook for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees F. Then turn the oven off, crack the door, and let them sit for another 10-15 minutes, watching to make sure they don't overbrown. The picture shows them at the end of 30 minutes. The final color can be seen on the plate, above.

Move to a cooling rack and let sit (the ones on the rack below are the ones from the original Skyrim batch. The ones on the plate at top are from a subsequent test batch.) Break into smaller pieces as desired.

 

Comments

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Loyd,

Last week grocery shopping revealed that my familie's favorite Barbara's crackers had been discontinued.....alas, another one of our favourites gone....happens more frequently than I like to admit...

Anyway, I have tried baking crackers before but haven't liked the results and didn't pursue the issue due to the easy way out - buy em...well now, that option is gone so I will have to revisit cracker making and these looks relatively easy to make but I WILL NOT buy a pasta machine!  There is no more room on my counter or in my cupboards for yet another baking toy  tool....  :-)

And they will have to wait until after the holidays.....I have joined the ranks of baking holiday breads and, as if the breads weren't enough, I have gotten side tracked into baking holiday cookies too....I have no idea what has come over me :-) but the good people at KA have been making a small fortune off of my frequent orders of late.....

Thanks for the post and I hope you got your dragons.....both of my sons are into computer games - youngest is into LOTR and is eagerly awaiting the new Star Wars game but, alas, he has to build himself another computer as his current on stopped producing sound....mother board issues.....we mothers have a way of working ourselves into everything :-)

Take Care,

Janet

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I am trying so hard to stay away from Skyrim, because I know if it enters my house none of us will do anything else for the next two months.  That said, January and February are pretty dreary here, so it may be just what need to not go stir crazy this winter.

Your crackers sound really interesting.

-Floyd

loydb's picture
loydb

It's the first game that's held my interest in a long time, they did a really excellent job with it. I'm excited to get my hands on their level-building tool in January, I'm dusting off my 3D modelling skills.

 

Yundah's picture
Yundah

We are now living in Skyrim... It is rather hysterical to hear my son yelling arcane spells (or something) from the living room. Your recipe, combined with the fact that I always feel like I'm killing Bambi when I throw excess starter away, means that maybe I'll get to play now.  I'll give these a try.  Thanks.

arlo's picture
arlo

Ok, I saw Skyrim and had to make a post. Between that and having been playing Star Wars:ToR, things are great.

 

Excellent crackers though as well :)

 

jlewis30's picture
jlewis30

Skyrim is a blast lol, I am delighted it led you to perfect crackers, I will give them a try. One I lit a stove on fire because I was playing a video game, true hall of shame moment.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Quite fun! Thanks for posting, Loyd!

I'm adapting various ingredients, trying to make something I like. I haven't veered too far from the weights, but the ingredients are all over the board: spelt, light rye, buckwheat, fine cornmeal, white (bread flour). Olive and sesame oil. White and black sesame seeds, charnuska seeds, and (very small quantities of) caraway. A lot of salt! (It's taken me a while to realize that crackers need a lot of salt).

Not sure how those long bake times work for you. I can bake for a max of ~23 minutes at 350 F, but 30-40 minutes turn the seeds bitter and/or burn the crackers. 

The picture you posted above is all I needed to get the right dough consistency. Who knew crackers could be so easy? (And a good vehicle for residual sourdough starter).

This morning's batch:

  • 8 oz starter @ ~100% hydration
  • 1.5 oz organic extra virgin olive oil
  • .5 oz sesame oil
  • 1 oz organic fine cornmeal
  • 1 oz organic extrafine buckwheat flour
  • 1 oz organic spelt flour
  • 3 oz organic white bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

Kneaded into a ball and rested for 6 hours. (I adjusted flour so dough matched the appearance of picture above by adding ~1 T extra bread flour).

Rolled out and "laminated" many times on a silicone mat using a French rolling pin, as I don't have a pasta machine. (I'd never keep a diet with one of those in the house).

Brushed with olive oil, seeded (as above), salted, docked, and baked for 23 minutes.

(The first few batches were shaped using a 2" round pastry cutter, but I grew tired of that tedium fast. Now I just cut them in 1 x 3" rectangles with a knife.)

Delicious!

All I need now is something to schmear on them, maybe cheese, maybe pâté.

I'd love to snack on them while playing Skyrim, but that game isn't coming within 10 miles of my house! ;)