Thank you for all the positive comments on my first posting about the gluten-free baking class that Kelley and I attended at the City Arts Centre last month.
If you remember the last post featured light and fluffy celiac-friendly scones and this post goes to the opposite end of the spectrum and features crisp thin homemade gluten-free crackers!
So, let’s get right to it!
First off, even though you make your own flour, this is probably the simplest recipe I have ever made!
Making the nut flour is possible in a “drinks” blender, if it is built for it. My blender is made for crushing ice for slushy drinks and it worked, but for best results use a food processor. In fact, your standard run-of-the-blender would likely not be powerful enough.
Our instructor, Jody Shenkarek, got this great cracker recipe from the Green Kitchen Stories blog:
Gluten-Free Nut Crackers
2 cups nuts and/or seeds (Kelley, Jean & I chose mostly sunflower seeds with sesame, pumpkin, cashew and almonds)
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sea salt
Toppings: salt, herbs, garlic … whatever you like. We left them plain, but the recipe advises brushing them with Braggs liquid aminos and sprinkling sesame seeds on top.
- Preheat oven to 360 °F (not 350°F) and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Mix nuts/seeds into a flour in a blender or food processor.
- Put in a bowl and add egg, water and salt. Stir until a stiff dough is formed.
- Divide in two and place half on each of the two baking sheets covered in parchment.
- Roll out into rectangles about 2 to 3 mm thick. If dough is sticky (you bet it is!) put another sheet of parchment on top to keep the rolling pin from sticking.
- Cut into sticks or squares mist with a little water and sprinkle on toppings.
- Bake for roughly 10 minutes – you must watch them as they burn easily.
- Store in jars. Make sure they are perfectly airtight as these have no preservatives and you want them to stay crisp.
These turned out so great in class, in fact out of the two cracker recipes we tried this was by far the best one. In case you are watching your salt intake you can leave it out; Jean and I thought the added salt was quite unnecessary for our taste, while Kelley thought it was just right.
Since the crackers turned out so great and the recipe left me some latitude to to try different nut and seed combos, I couldn’t wait to experiment with different nut mixes at home. I finally got around to it towards the end of February which was a very busy day for me. In hindsight, I would have had much better results if I hadn’t felt rushed….
Here are the proportions of nut and seed mixes that I tried out:
Pecan: ¼ Cup Hemp Seeds, ½ Cup sliced Almonds, 1 ½ Cups Pecans!
Pistachio: ¼ Cup Hemp Seeds, ½ Cup Sunflower seeds, 1 Cup Pistachio’s, ¼ Cup Sesame
Pumpkin: ¼ Cup Hemp Seeds, ½ Cup Sunflower seeds, ¼ Cup Sesame, 1 Cup Pumpkin.
Cashew: ¼ Cup Hemp Seeds, ½ Cup Sunflower seeds, ¼ Cup sliced Almonds, 1 Cup Cashews
I love to experiment when I’m cooking and rarely stick to the recipe when making a meal, because I like more spices than most recipes call for. Baking on the other hand is not quite as flexible, but I was fairly certain that I could safely experiment with this recipe.
So for half of the pecan mix I added about an 1/8 cup of defrosted frozen blueberries, and with half of the Pumpkin mix I added 1 tablespoon of fennel candies, which I love.
As I mentioned, I was quite rushed and tried to do too much in too little time (2 ½ hours), so I did not pay enough attention to the thicknesses when I was rolling out the cracker dough. In addition, I only own two cookie sheets so I was pre- rolling the nut mixtures on parchment, while the first batch was in the oven, and finally, I do not own a rolling pin so I was rolling out with a juice glass.
As you can imagine it was a bit crazy.
To achieve better results each batch should have been split between two baking sheets rather than trying to crowd it all onto one. Adding the berries and candied fennel certainly made for yummy flavour combos but those turned out to be more biscuit-like than the crispy cracker I was after, and they had to be refrigerated which kept them moist. Although tasty, very “uncracker-like”.
I wanted snack crackers that could be eaten without toppings so I deleted the salt. My personal favourite is the Pumpkin with Candied Fennel, next is Pecan, because they are my favourite nut and I cannot get enough of them. The Cashew was most popular with friends – even those who generally don’t favour cashews. I think it is because they were the most “cracker-like” in flavour, were the best thickness, or rather THIN-ness, and worked with toppings or with dips. I did love the taste of the pistachio sticks but they were much too thick, though I could call them mini-biscotti, and pretend that was on purpose.
I highly encourage you to try out this recipe as it is very simple and quick for a single batch, then you could comment back to Kelley about your successes, experiments and tasty mistakes!