And yes, this is a knock off of La Panzanella’s amazing Rosemary Croccantini. I found the recipe (or the bones of the recipe) on The Fresh Loaf web site. (Great site BTW.) And if truth be told, I’m not going to make a habit of preparing these homemade crackers each time I need a base for a yummy spread. I’m not crazy after all! But for those times when I want to play gourmet and impress the pickles out of a small group of people, myself included, I’m going to continue baking a batch of these little darlings whenever a get a wild hair. And truly, they are very easy to build and don’t take that much time. But sticking my hands and head in and out of a 450 degree oven is not something I care to do on an everyday basis!
So now that I have convinced you that these crackers are somewhat of a bother, let me tell you why I am going to continue making them, if only for special occasions. And why you should try them at your earliest convenience. THEY ARE JUST FREAKING DELICIOUS. In my opinion, they are even better than their prototype. Not kidding here folks. Fresh out of the oven they are light, crisp, and don’t break into a million pieces at the mere suggestion of using them as the base for a spread. They are simply perfect crackers.
Plus, if you are the kind of person who enjoys speculating on how much money you save by baking your own breads, desserts, etc., like I do, you are going to love this recipe all the more. Just glance down at the list of ingredients; then think about how much an 8 ounce package of this type of cracker costs at the grocery store. (And yes I know you can buy them for a reduced price at Costco, but not everyone has a Costco within walking distance!) But of course, as our dear friend Jim so lovingly pointed out last evening at our cooking club dinner party, you still have to consider the cost of running your oven etc. if you are going to perform an accurate analysis of the cost savings. (Not going to do that, just telling you straight!) But I’m still willing to bet a month’s wages (like I still receive wages being retired and all) that the savings is in the vicinity of 85-90%.
(Our cooking club sitting down for yet another wonderful meal together.)
So considering the cost savings, the fact that these crackers are really quite easy to build, and that the final product is amazing, I advise you to put on your welding smock (just kidding) and get cracking, or should I say – get crackering!
- 1½ c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. course sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 1-2 T. chopped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp. dried rosemary
- 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
- ½ c. very cold water
Place a baking stone* on a rack set in the middle of your oven. Place an empty pan (like an 8×8-inch metal cake pan) on the lower rack and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Meanwhile, place the flour, salt, and rosemary in the bowl of your food processor fitted with the cutting blade; pulse to blend the ingredients. Add the olive oil and pulse again. Add the cold water in a thin stream until the dough comes together; process for about 20 seconds. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface (I use a pastry cloth) and knead to a smooth ball. Divide into four equal sized portions and cover with a towel; let rest 5 minutes. Using a rolling pin, roll each quarter of dough out until the dough is paper thin. (Make sure you have plenty of flour on the rolling surface and also on your rolling pin. The dough is quite sticky.) Pierce the dough liberally with a table fork to help prevent bubbles forming during the baking process; cut the rolled dough into workable sized pieces.
Cover a one sided baking sheet (see picture below) with parchment paper and place the dough pieces on the paper. Sprinkle lightly with course sea salt.
When ready to start baking, add about ½ cup water to the pan in the bottom of the oven. Slide the crackers, using the cookie sheet in much the same way you would use a pizza paddle, onto the baking stone, parchment paper and all.
Set your timer and flip the crackers (I use my fingers) after about 3 minutes. Bake another 3 minutes or until the crackers start to show a hint of brown. (You truly need to watch the crackers very carefully throughout the entire baking process.) Then using the same technique you used to slide the parchment paper onto the baking stone; reverse the process. Slide the cookie sheet under the first inch or so of parchment paper and pull the paper onto the cookie sheet. (You can use your fingers for this step because the paper is not hot. Just don’t touch the baking stone.)
When out of the oven, cool the crackers on wire racks. Repeat the process for the next 3 pieces of dough including cutting new parchment paper for each batch.
Please note: Some crackers may be slightly limp when taken out of the oven, but will crisp up as they cool. If a couple don’t seem to be crisping properly, place them back in the turned off oven and they will dry out in about 5 minutes from the residual heat.
Cool crackers completely before storing in an airtight container at room temperature.
Serving suggestion: try using these crackers as a base for the next recipe I’m going to post – Sharp Cheddar Cheese and Creamy Horseradish Spread.
*If you don’t own a baking stone, just use the baking sheet. You might need to increase the baking time a bit for both sides. Watch closely.