It is 6:45 am here in Seattle, the night is clinging to the city and I have just put three trays of whole grain seeded cracker dough into my oven to bake. Again. It’s my latest obsession, and for the past month I have made these crunchy, sweet yet salty crackers at least every three days. Two of us, TWO ADULT EATERS, have consumed them with breakfast, lunch and dinner…OK, my adult son also has taken a few to his apartment, but that barely counts. I get like this with food I love — I want it all the time and once I no longer crave the item I move on to the next best thing. (Back in college I used to make popcorn balls ad nauseam for months on end and to this day I cannot stand to even look at a popcorn ball.) Fortunately there is not one ingredient in these crackers that is unhealthy.
The original recipe came from pages 294-295 of Peter Reinhar’s amazing book, Whole Grain Breads. My nutritionist friend Mari Rosen Perry introduced me to this book and actually demonstrated how she bakes 100% whole grain loaves. I bought the book, got a kitchen scale and haven’t looked back since. I love the zen of making breads, and I have made many of the recipes in this cookbook. My only frustration is the timing because the 100% whole grain recipes often require leaving part of the mixed ingredients in or out of the refrigerator for several hours, and I am not good at planning to be home 12 hours later to do “part 2.” That’s why I love these crackers. It takes 10 minutes to make the dough and only 15 minutes to roll out and cut them and then, voila – ready to bake. 20 minutes in the oven, and you are done.
In my usual fashion, I have really simplified this recipe and cut out many of the detailed steps. I also do not weigh the ingredients, and have found this cracker recipe to be very forgiving. Lucky for me, the seeds are all available in the bulk food section of my supermarket. As you can imagine, I have huge quantities on hand for my early morning baking sessions!
Whole Grain Crackers
Makes ~8 dozen
- 1 ¾ cup 100% whole wheat flour (I use WHITE whole wheat flour for breads – King Arthur brand) plus extra to roll the crackers
- Heaping ⅓ cup whole white sesame seeds (do not grind them)
- Heaping ⅓ cup of either sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds (OR a combo of both)
- 3 Tbsp flax seeds
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 5 ounces room temperature water-measure in a liquid measuring cup.
- 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup or honey (I love the taste of syrup)
- 2 Tbsp canola oil + a little for the bowl
- Coarse salt flakes and extra sesame seeds to top the crackers
Combine whole wheat flour, sesame seeds and salt in a medium bowl.
Place sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds and flax seeds In a small coffee grinder (I have a Krups bean grinder from 40 years ago) and pulse 5 times until it is ground finely. Add to the flour mixture.
Combine water, syrup and oil and add into the flour mixture with a spatula, then pour onto the counter. There will be some unincorporated flour that you can work in. Dust the counter with a tiny bit more flour if required and knead about 50 times. The dough will be a little sticky but no worries.
Wash the bowl it was mixed in, oil it and place the dough ball in the bottom. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap for at least ½ hour or up to 12 hours out of the refrigerator. Sometimes I make the dough at night and then continue in the morning, but other times I just can’t wait so long.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment.
I put a little flour on a large wood board or a clean piece of parchment and roll the dough ⅓ at a time directly on there with a lightly floured rolling pin. Make it pretty thin (1/8 inch max – or thinner if you can). At this point, sprinkle another 1 ½ Tbsp plain sesame seeds on top and also lightly shake salt crystals on top too. I run the rolling pin over these so they stay put.
Next, cut into 1 ½ inch squares with a pizza cutter or use a cookie cutter and cut into circles if you are trying to be fancy. Be sure the edges of the dough aren’t too thick. Place on lined cookie sheet using a bench scraper, and being sure the crackers do not touch. Repeat two more times.
Bake carefully 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake another 8-10 minutes until fairly brown. I allow the crackers to totally cool on the cookie sheets, then I store them in a paper bag or open container so they do not become soggy. They keep for at least two weeks if they aren’t gone by then.
Note: After I grind the pumpkin/sunflower/flax seeds, I empty the small coffee grinder then put about 20 kernels of rice inside and grind that. The rice removes the oils and smells. I then wipe everything down with a dry paper towel and it’s ready for the next project.