Easy homemade crispy cracker bread recipe with fresh herbs and sweet salt.
"Yum yum! This is basically all I had for dinner tonight. :)" ~ Gretchen
Here's a fact: When it comes to bread, there are two camps.
Camp One: No meal is complete without bread, even a small slice. "Is there bread, dear?" my mother would ask, KNOWING there was no bread but making the point, anyway. At supper one night, our family friend Olga asked for bread, "just a small cracker," then sat silent in disbelief when there was none. For those in this camp, a meal, it's gotta have bread.
Camp Two: Bread is a special occasion. When bread is hot out of the oven, it might just be the meal, all by itself, perhaps with a small bowl of soup on the side. We love baking and eating bread! But every meal? No way.
(Okay, there's a third camp, those that don't eat bread at all. But they're not reading anyway. So let's take a moment to pity those who forgo bread. Life without bread, entirely? Forget it.)
Meet the flatbread that's pushed me into Camp One, the one that has me reaching for the cracker tin with every salad supper, every bowl of soup. Smeared with a little goat cheese, crisp pieces make for memorable picnic nibbles.
My friend Mary first served these large crisp wafers hot out of the oven for our book club last month. Someone broke off a piece, took a bite. "You made this? Wow." Since then, I've made flatbread
four, wait, make that five and now six times, experimenting with whole-grain flours, shapes, sizes and timing. I even made a sweet chocolate flatbread topped with pearl sugar! Good news, making flatbread couldn't be easier!
I love their crispness -- they're more like crackers, really. With each crack comes a rush of fresh herbs and sweet salt. They are leavened with baking powder, not yeast, so fall into the 'quick' category, no rising required: just mix, bake, and eat for supper. But flatbread keeps. The next time Olga visits? I promise, there will be bread for the table, crisp flatbread.
QUICK CRISP FLATBREAD
Time-to-table: 30 minutes for first tray, more for others
Makes 3 large rounds or a dozen individual-size rounds or 4 dozen small crackers
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (or 1/4 cup more all-purpose flour), fluffed
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh herbs, chopped (rosemary and chive work well)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, for brushing (optional)
- More chopped fresh herbs (optional)
- A flaky salt, such as Maldon (don't skip)
- Toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Place a heavy baking sheet into the oven. Preheat to 450F.
In a bowl, stir together the flours, baking powder, salt and herbs. Make a well in the center and stir in the oil and water with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Lightly flour a work surface and knead gently four or five times.
Break the dough into three parts. (For smaller individual rounds, divide each further into four pieces.) On a sheet of parchment paper the size of the baking sheet, roll the dough as thin as possible, working from the center out to fill the sheet. Brush the top with olive oil, sprinkle with fresh herbs and salt, any other toppings. Slip the parchment onto the hot baking sheet and bake for 8 - 10 minutes until the edges are brown and crispy and the top is golden and browned in places. For the most crispness, err on the side of brownness. Remove the parchment from the oven and let cool. Cover tightly to store. Repeat with remaining pieces.
Baking sheets | Be sure to use a heavy baking sheet as the high oven temperature may warp lighter pans. If you have a pizza stone, slip the parchment paper right onto the stone, skipping the baking sheet entirely. I use parchment sheets twice.
Flour | I tried a 4:3 mix of flour:whole wheat flour. It tasted good but didn't crisp well so I pushed back to the 6:1 blend (that's 6 quarter cups of all-purpose flour and 1 quarter cup of whole wheat flour), more than the 7:0 of the inspiring recipe. Whole wheat pastry flour might work better than plain whole wheat flour.
Herbs | The herbs are delicious but the flatbread is also good without, just be sure to salt well.
Crackers | I'm crazy for flatbread cut into diamond-shaped crackers the size of WheatThins. Once the dough is rolled, just score it with a serrated sewing tool called a tracing wheel.
Olive oil | Any decent olive oil works fine as the fruitiness, say, of a good olive oil is lost in the dough. Skip brushing the tops with olive oil if you like, but some of the crispiness is lost.
Roll by hand? | For readers who don't have rolling pins, I tried pressing the dough as thin as possible with my hands. Some of the cracker-like crispiness is lost but the bread is still very good.
Mix now, bake later | One batch, I refrigerated pieces of dough to roll and bake later. Works like a charm!
This is my contribution to a food blog event that's collecting recipes for picnic fare, all make-ahead, all transportable. It should be a fun collection!
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