There’s so much to update you on: the new harvest of extra virgin olive oil, a Slow Food conference, a field trip to Tuscany, the list goes on and on. That’s all coming at some point I promise but to tide you over in the meantime I want to share my favorite new hobby: baking crackers.
It’s an unusual hobby I realize. But we only have a month left of school here in Italy and massive amounts of polenta, sesame seeds and whole wheat flour in our pantry. Thus, cracker baking time. I like triscuits and wheat thins as much as the next person (maybe even a little bit more) but there’s something very thrilling about making your own crackers, even if they’re a bit rustic.
Whole Wheat Sesame Cornmeal Crackers
(Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine)
2 cups whole wheat flour (In Italy, I use Petra. In the U.S., King Arthur whole wheat flour might be your best bet)
1 cup all purpose white flour (00 in Italy)
1 cup yellow cornmeal
¼ cup sesame seeds (plus maybe another ¼ cup for sprinkling on top)
1 tbs salt
¾ extra virgin olive oil
¾ plus 2 tbs water
- Pour in the ¾ cup of extra virgin olive oil and mix well until the consistency looks like wet sand. If it’s a little too dry, you can splash a tiny bit more olive oil in.
- Add the water all at once and mix well. Turn the dough onto an unfloured surface and knead well (I knead in the bowl that I mixed it all in).
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees C). Divide the dough into 4 pieces. On a surface lightly dusted with cornmeal, roll out 1 piece of dough 1/8 inch thick or so. A rolling pin is obviously best, but not necessary if you don’t have one. I used the bottom of a glass jar of honey. It created an uneven, rustic effect but it did the trick more or less. Keep the rest of the pieces wrapped.
- Sprinkle a handful of sesame seeds over the dough and press them into the pastry with your rolling pin/jar/hands. Cut the pastry into 1 inch squares and transfer to ungreased baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough and seeds.
- Bake the crackers in the upper and lower thirds of the oven shifting the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through. Bake the crackers until crisp and golden (approximately 10-15 minutes depending on your oven). Let the crackers cool completely on the baking sheets.