12 April 2010

Flax Seed Crackers

Did you know you can make your own crackers?

Have you ever read the ingredients list on the back of your favourite boxed crackers?  I did, and no matter how much I loved those little guys, I could no longer eat them.  Pre-packaged food is not only filled with way-too-much sodium, but seriously... what are some of these things?  That handful of Wheat Thins contained, in addition to over 200mg of sodium, lotsa things that I felt had no place in a humble cracker: 3 different kinds of sugar, fake colouring, preservatives.  Things that will hook you.  Things that aren't good for you.

Now, I feel a little bit guilty saying those things I just said about the health of my food.  Because I am known to make some of the most ridiculous desserts.  It's one of my favourite things to do.  But I also believe in doing things the from-scratch way.  I know what goes into my food.  No preservatives.  No fake colours.  Just honest-to-goodness yummy-ness.  And I manage to stay pretty fit, so it seems to work for me.

Last year, I threw myself into the cracker task.  I had never known anyone to make their own crackers.  For some reason, it just seemed like something you could only ever find in a box... it had never occurred to me, in all my baking years, to attempt crackers.  So, I tried a few different recipes.  I had successes and failures.  This is a success story.

I went through a phase last year where I would buy up every ingredient I could find in the flour section of the farmers' market in Atlanta.  I wound up with an abundance of flax meal - flax seeds that had been ground up into a powder.  I bought it before I realised that I had no idea what I would do with it.  I searched for recipes, and while I don't believe in miracles, I found this gem of a recipe from the Flax Council of Canada's website.  Unfortunately, the measurements on the website kind of don't make any sense.  So I've fixed it below.

They were great.  Step aside, Wheat Thins, you crappy unhealthy cracker imposters!  These are my new favourite little cracker.  They make a great snack just by themselves.  Also, they are very nice when topped with a thin slice of swiss cheese, tomato and cracked pepper.  Or Nutella and toasted pine nuts.  Just be careful... they are a bit fragile, unfortunately, so they don't "dip" well.  But they really make up for it in flavour, and (of course) bragging rights.  Seriously, everyone will think you're a culinary goddess, since you have just kicked Nabisco in their, erm... crackers.

Flax Seed Crackers
adapted from the Flax Council of Canada

1/4 cup flax seed
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp butter, softened
1/2 cup whole milk
sea salt to taste

In a bowl of a stand-up mixer, add flax seed, ground flax, flour, baking powder, salt and margarine or butter. With the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.

Stir in milk and mix until mixture forms a soft dough.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill 10 minutes.  Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F).

Divide the dough into quarters. Turn out onto a lightly floured board. Roll out very thin to a rectangle 2 mm (1/16 inch) thick.

**a little trick: after you've rolled out the dough, sprinkle some sea salt over the top and use your rolling pin to lightly press the salt into the dough.

Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet and use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to score into squares.  Mine were about 1" x 1", but you can make whatever size or shape you like.

Bake 20 minutes until crisp and golden.  Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from pan to cool completely.

Repeat with remaining 3 quarters of dough, each in a separate batch.

Yield: about 50 crackers (in 1-inch squares.)

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