Sesame Ajwain Nigella Wheat Crackers

The idea of making crackers that are not fried and trans fat free drew me to this recipe. I can’t really comprehend why seasoned chefs don’t create more recipes like this in light of all the known bad effects of trans fats. Maybe this successful endeavor will inspire me to come up with some of my own.

For now, I provide you with the recipe adopted from my Baking with Julia cookbook – the recipe was contributed by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. The recipe is easy and the crackers taste great! Makes about 12 dozen crackers.

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups (approx) warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)

Stir together the seeds and the coarse salt in a bowl. I replaced the anise seeds with ajwain seeds for a slightly different effect and/or flavor. All of these seeds can be purchased at the local Indian stores and should also be available at Whole Foods. Set aside.

The dough can be made by hand or using a food processor. Simply mixing the warm water with the whole wheat flour is a starting point for Indian bread called ‘chapathi’ or ‘roti’ – and traditionally it is all done by hand.

By Hand: In a large tray, add 1 teaspoon salt to the 3 cups of flour. Then create a depression in the middle of the flour and pour in 1.5 cups of the water. Mix the 1.5 cups water into the dough and form the dough into a ball. Add a little more water if necessary to form the ball or a little more flour if the dough is too sticky. Knead the dough until it comes together and then continue kneading for at least  3-4 minutes.

By Food Processor: Place the 3 cups of flour and teaspoon of salt into a food processor fitted with the metal blade and whirl for a few seconds, just to mix. With the machine running, add the 1.5 cups of water, processing until the dough forms a ball (about 10 seconds). Add a little more water if necessary to form the ball or a little more flour if the dough is too sticky. Continue kneading for at least  1 minute in the food processor, then remove the dough from the processor and knead on a flat surface for 30 seconds.

Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap completely and allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. You can also make the dough a day before and refridgerate in sealed plastic wrap or an airtight container.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F and prepare a couple baking sheets (or inverted jelly roll pans or pizza pans) and a spray bottle of water.

Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Work with one piece of dough at a time. Dust a work surface and your hands with flour. Flatten by hand and then use a rolling pin to roll out the dough piece into a thin sheet. The thickness can be adjusted to your taste as the crackers have a slightly different taste/texture if rolled super thin compared to slightly thicker crackers.

Sprinkle a little of the seed-salt mix over the flattened dough evenly. Then roll the rolling pin lightly over the dough with the seeds to set the seeds into the dough.

Transfer the flattened dough to one of the baking sheets. Then use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into rectangles.

Bake the crackers for 3-10 minutes or until golden brown. The recipe called for a 2.5 – 3 minute baking time. However, my crackers took much longer – this was probably influenced by the thickness of the dough and/or the quality of the oven. Remove the crackers as they brown. You get to determine how baked the crackers should be.

The cooled crackers can be stored for a month in a sealed container or bag. The crackers can be served with cheese, guacamole or hummus. You may want to adjust the seed mix topping to the cuisine that is being served with the crackers. For example, I served hummus with the sesame- ajwain- nigella crackers.

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