My recent visit to King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center was great fun. The Baking with Grains class contained a great source of information on working with whole-grain and multi-grain baked goods. You can click on this link to see the full course calendar for the Baking Education Center, or to sign up for a class.
One of the recipes we made was a multi-grain cracker with all-purpose, whole wheat, and pumpernickel (whole-grain rye) flours as well as corn meal and lots of assorted seeds and flavorings. They were surprisingly easy and a lot of fun to make. Our various flavors of crackers were easily the hit of the day with those of us that were students and with the tasters. We happily munched on them on the way home from Vermont as we chatted about our enjoyable weekend.
Two days later the crackers were all but gone, but our appetite for them had not disappeared. As much as I liked the variety of seeds mixed into my crackers from the class, I also yearned for the salty tang of the sharp Vermont cheddar I sampled along the way. The flavors of Vermont go well together, so I also wanted a hint of sweet maple. To balance out the flavors I also put in a little bite from cracked black pepper. Since I wanted the flavors of the cheese, maple sugar and pepper to be clear in the cracker, I also changed the whole-grain rye flour to brown rice flour since it has a milder flavor. Using a coarse ground corn meal helped to replace the crunch from the seeds in the King Arthur Flour recipe.
These crackers are very good. Even though the instructions seem complicated, the crackers come together very easily and bake off quickly. You can have a big batch of crunchy, crowd-pleasing crackers in about the same time as a batch of cookies. They have the flavors that I love from Vermont and an addictive crunch. Perhaps the most important part is that they are a lot of fun to make. Enjoy!
This recipe is adapted from the Multi-Grain Seeded Cracker Bread recipe provided as part of the The Whole of It: Baking With Grains course offered at the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center in Norwich, VT (taught by Irene Shover).
Cheddar and Black Pepper Multi-Grain Crackers
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup coarse ground corn meal
1/2 cup brown rice flour
2 tablespoons maple sugar (or brown sugar)
2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all of flours, sugar, salt and the black pepper together in a large mixing bowl. Add the shredded cheddar cheese and toss to combine. Add the olive oil and use a fork to it evenly into the flour mixture. Add the 1 1/4 cup of the water and mix well, kneading it into the dough until you have a pliable dough. The dough should not be crumbly, but also not wet or sticky. Add the extra two tablespoons of water only if you need it.
Lightly knead the dough just until the dough comes together into an even texture. Form the dough into a disc and cut into four even pieces. Very lightly sprinkle a piece of parchment paper or baking mat with flour and roll the dough directly onto the paper/mat. Make sure to roll the dough as evenly as you can. It isn't really important that the dough remain in a perfect shape, but the more even the dough is in thickness, the more evenly the crackers will cook. If the dough starts to stick to the rolling pin sprinkle the pin and the top of the dough with a small amount of flour. Roll the dough as thin as you can without it starting to tear in spots, between an 1/8 and 1/16”. You can cut small pieces if they roll off the edge and move them to other parts of the cooking surface. If you want rustic crackers, do not score the dough, but if you want even breaks, then use a rotary cutter (pizza cutter) to cut the dough on the baking mat before baking.
Transfer the dough on the parchment to a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cracker is dark golden brown at the edges and an even golden brown across the surface of the cracker. While the cracker is baking repeat the rolling process with the next ball of cracker dough. When the cracker is done, remove it from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Repeat the process with the remaining dough. When the crackers have cooled completely, you can break uncut crackers into any size you want. The crackers will keep in an air tight container for about a week. If they start to stale, they can be refreshed by heating in hot oven for a few minutes.
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