Earlier this week I made water crackers for the Dean’s Lunch. I know I just posted this recipe just this morning, but I was not satisfies with what I had produced. Yes, they were crisp and delicious but they were a bit too crisp.
The problem I was dealing with was that if they were only slightly under baked, they came out tough and chewy. By baking them a second time, they became brittle—as in breaking into gum-slicing, sharp pieces. I wanted a tasty cracker that did not leave holes in my mouth.
Yesterday, I tried making empanadas for the first time. The crust called for using ice water and vinegar to reduce the amount of gluten formed during the mixing of the dough. Would this solve my problem?
Note: As I sit here, eating my way through the entire bowl of crackers, I think it worked. Crisp, not brittle.
Warning!: My earlier recipe was dangerous, this recipe is deadly—they are extremely addictive. Do not make more than one batch at a time, if you value your waist line.
Karl’s Thyme Water Crackers II
1 cup flour, AP
1 tsp. French thyme, dried
½ tsp. baking powder
¼+ tsp. fleur de sel, separate uses
½+ ice water
½ Tbs. distilled white vinegar
2 Tbs. olive oil
1. Put the flour, thyme, baking powder, and a quarter teaspoon of salt in a bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed.
Note: My sister, Grace, sent me a bunch of spices for Christmas, one of which was French thyme from Penzeys. Although it is a dried herb, it is much more fragrantly “thyme-y” than even my fresh thyme in the garden. This is the same spice that makes my water crackers so good (soon to be posted).
2. Add the vinegar to the water.
3. Use a spatula to mix the water into the flour, until the dough forms a ball.
Tip: The dough will be fairly soft. Mix until almost all of the flour has just been absorbed.
4. Form the dough into a ball and dust the outside with flour.
Tip: The dry flour keeps the dough from sticking to the plastic wrap.
5. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and let it rest for ten minutes.
Tip: This rest gives the flour time to completely hydrate.
6. Knead the dough just 5 times.
Tip: You are trying to completely mix the dough, but not form too much gluten which would make your crackers tough.
7. Move the oven rack to the top position and preheat the oven to 425° F.
Tip: If you have a pizza stone this would be a good time to use it. If not, a cookie sheet will do.
Note: The stone retains heat and cooks the cracker more evenly, quickly, and more crisply.
8. On a sheet of parchment paper, roll out the dough as thinly as you can.
Tip: You will need at least 2 tablespoons of flour to keep the dough from sticking to the paper and the rolling pin. Be generous with the flour.
Note: You want the crackers out to an eighth of an inch thick or slightly less. It’s all good, but if you dough is a quarter of an inch thick would then be “hardtack.”
9. Preheat oven to 425º F.
10. Cut the crackers to any size that pleases you.
11. Brush the tops of the crackers lightly with olive oil and sprinkle some salt on each cracker.
Tip: This is where the parchment paper really comes in handy, even though the crackers are separated, they can be transferred all together by sliding the paper onto a cookie sheet. If you are using a pizza stone a quick “shove and jerk” will slide the paper onto the stone.
12. Bake crackers until they are starting to have some golden brown spots, about 15 minutes.
Tip: Rotate the tray about half way through the baking time.
Note: Do not over bake. If the edges start to get dark brown they will taste burnt.
13. When done, remove the crackers to a wire rack and let the crackers and the oven cool down.
14. Turn the oven down to 300º F.
15. Break the crackers apart and scatter them onto a lipped baking tray.
16. Toast the crackers a second time for 10 minutes.
Tip: Baked only once the crackers will be tough and chewy. Baking them a second time makes them crisp.
17. Let them cool a second time and try not to eat them all immediately—like I am doing right now.
Tip: You may store any left in an air tight plastic bag.