Maybe it was the grind of endless record-breaking cold weather that did it, but last month I found myself craving savoury snacks. The kind of food that’s crunchy, has a salty kick and leaves a mess of crumbs and flakes behind. My occasional indulgence in a bag of chips or crisps was getting out of hand, and before I knew it I was noshing on store-bought snacks several times a week. It’s amazing how quickly an indulgence can turn into a mindless habit.
Once this realization hit, it was time to put one of my long-held kitchen rules into action: snacks and treats are only allowable if they’re homemade. Even so, a modicum of moderation is still called for. Damn.
Last November I made the “Many-Seed Lavash Bread” from Charmian Christie’s must-have cookbook, The Messy Baker. If this book isn’t on your shelf yet, run out and get it now. Still not sure? These crispy crackers, festooned with tasty sesame, poppy and chia seeds will convince you. I was certainly convinced they were just what I needed to tame that craving.
I made the first batch exactly to Charmian’s specifications and they were good, very good. But, what can I say? It’s in my nature as an intuitive cook and food writer to play with recipes and make them exactly suited to my liking. My tweaks included replacing the honey with a little less cane sugar and switching from vegetable to extra virgin olive oil.
I especially like being able to play with the salt level. I sprinkled mine with a mix of kosher and sea salts, Goldilocks style: not too little, not too much, but just the right amount for me. You can determine what’s the right amount for you. That’s the beauty of free will and cooking.
Shaping these crackers is part of the fun. The first time I made them, I rolled out 16 individual pieces but found them on the big side. And frankly, all that rolling pin action was a bit much in the effort department due to my bothersome wrists, but that likely won’t be an issue for you more hale and hearty types. The next time I divided the dough in half, baked two big cracker sheets and then snapped them into smaller pieces. I liked the irregularity of the pieces with that method.
Because I like you so much, Dear Reader, before I publish this post today I’m making these crackers one more time. In fact I just stepped away and spent less than 10 minutes putting the dough together and tidying up. I bet you didn’t even miss me. Now the dough’s resting and I’m going for a walk before returning to finish the crackers. This time I plan to roll out two sheets, affix the seeds and salt, and then cut the dough into smaller pieces with a pizza cutter. I think long thin pieces would look fantastic standing on the dinner table in a glass tumbler or perched on the rim of a soup bowl, so I’m going to do some like that too. How’s that for value for your blog reading time?
Reporting back a few hours later: the pizza cutter method is effective for making cracker sticks, but if I want regular crackers, I find the straight cut ones less visually interesting than the irregularly broken ones.
These crackers are everything I crave in a snack: crisp and flavoursome with just the right salty kick. And they go great with hummus, too. The only caution? Make sure you have lots of dental floss on hand. Those poppy and chia seeds can cause some social embarrassment if you’re not vigilant.
Seedy Lavash Crackers
This recipe is lightly adapted from the “Many-Seed Lavash Bread” in Charmian Christie’s Messy Baker cookbook. Don’t forget to preheat the oven to 375 ℉ and line two baking trays with parchment paper before you start rolling out the dough. I find this dough comes together easily in a bowl with a fork, but you could use a food processor, too. I’m not sure how scientific this is, but I find using warm water makes the dough a little more pliable and easier to handle.
- 1-1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp granulated cane sugar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 4 tsp poppy seeds (1 tbsp + 1 tsp)
- 4 tsp chia seeds
- 4 tsp sesame seeds
- about 1/2 tsp kosher salt for sprinkling
- a couple pinches fine sea salt for sprinkling
Combine the flours, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl and stir together. Pour in the oil and water. Stir together with a fork until most of the dough has come together. There will be some loose, shaggy bits – don’t fret!
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured smooth surface, and knead a few times until it comes together into a ball. Place it back in the bowl (really, why make another dish dirty?). Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit out on the counter anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight.
Mix the three seeds together and set aside.
Divide the dough into two pieces and roll each out on a smooth surface (no need to flour it) until very thin, about 1/16th of an inch. Or, you could divide the dough into 16 pieces and roll them out individually. Place the dough onto the parchment-lined trays, and gently pull it into shape if need be. I find the dough is quite stretchy and easy to work with.
Brush the dough lightly with a pastry or basting brush dipped into water, then sprinkle the seeds as evenly as possible over top. You can spread them around with your fingers to help even them out if need be. Sprinkle on the salt. The use the back of a large spoon to press the seeds into the dough. This helps cut back on the seed-flying-about factor when you’re eating the crackers.
If you want cracker sticks, you use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into half-inch or so strips and then separate them a bit on the baking tray.
For large sheets, the baking time is anywhere from 16 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven. You want the crackers to be browning at the edges and to be fairly firm, keeping in mind they’ll crisp up more as they cool. You’ll also see some big air bubbles puffing up, which is part of the crackers’ charm. For individual crackers, baking time is dependent on their size. My cracker strips took about 15 minutes, but you should start checking after 10 minutes the first time you make them.
Once done, put the trays onto cooling racks to let the crackers cool. Once they’re completely cooled you can store them in an airtight container for up to a week. I can’t imagine they would go uneaten for that long though!