Homemade crackers are something that people don’t think much about making. It’s too bad, because they are so easy to make and so easily customized. The only problem with homemade crackers is that it is hard not to eat the entire batch in one day. I was delighted when Sourdough Surprises announced that this month’s challenge was going to be crackers. As it turns out, crackers are a great place to use up discard starter during feeding.
I’ve been a little obsessed with pretzels lately, so I thought I’d see if I could make something like a pretzel crisp at home. A baking soda wash or a lye bath is typically used to give pretzels their characteristic flavor and brown color. Could pretzel crackers be as easy as just brushing my cracker dough with a baking soda solution and sprinkling with coarse salt before baking? It was! My first attempt was pretty successful. The crackers tasted and smelled just like pretzels. My only complaint was that the tops were very dull.
I tried brushing the second batch with melted butter, which made them nice and shiny, but then they had to be eaten immediately because the butter softens them. The third batch I brushed with an egg wash after letting the baking soda solution soak in a bit. They were an improvement over the first batch, but not as glossy as I had hoped. I’m out of ideas – anyone have a good one?
Regardless of the appearance not being perfect, I am in love with these crackers! They are also good topped with seeds as German pretzels are or, an even more addictive topping – Everything Bagel topping. Now I need to figure out a good mustard dip recipe…
- ½ cup (2 ounces) white whole wheat flour
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ cup (4.3 ounces) 100% hydration sourdough starter (discard from feeding)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- ½ cup boiling water
- 1½ tsp. baking soda
- egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water)
- coarse sea salt for sprinkling
- Mix together the flour, kosher salt, sourdough starter and the olive oil until it forms a soft dough.
- Shape and flatten the dough into a rectangular piece about ½ inch thick and wrap in plastic. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Meanwhile, make the baking soda wash by combining the baking soda and the boiling water and stirring to dissolve the soda. Let cool.
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Roll the dough out on a piece of lightly floured parchment paper until it is 1/16 inch thick. Make sure the dough is of even thickness throughout.
- Brush the dough thoroughly with the baking soda wash and let it sit for 2 minutes to absorb slightly.
- Carefully turn the dough over on the parchment, using a rolling pin to help you, and spread out any wrinkles. Brush the 2nd side with the baking soda wash and let it sit another 2 minutes.
- Brush the dough with egg wash and liberally sprinkle it with the coarse salt.
- Use a knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough into squares. You do not need to separate them.
- Slide the parchment with the crackers on top onto a baking sheet.
- Bake the crackers for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Start checking the color at the 15 minute mark. If any of the crackers are getting too dark, just pull those few off of the sheet and continue to bake the rest.
- Bake until the crackers are evenly dark and crispy.
- Remove the crackers and cool on a rack. Any thicker crackers that are not fully crispy can be put back in the oven for another minute or two.