I’m not sure I have the temperament for sourdough.
I make up all sorts of crazy creations from all sorts of things and will happily bake yeast and quick breads with my eyes closed — but a bit of flour, water and starter has me quaking in my boots — or at the very least ignoring the bubbling bowl waving at me each time I open the fridge.
You see, a month or so ago I made up a batch of yoghurt and olive oil whole wheat flatbreads but only used two thirds of the dough. The rest became my pet experiment…
I fed it — indiscriminately and without precision — with a spoonful of flour and a splash of water here and there. I kept it in the fridge so it wasn’t so demanding. I divided it into two bowls after it got to be too much for one. But it hasn’t progressed any further than that because, well, what needs to come next seems far too complicated and exact for my mad-scientist ways.
A thousand sites and books and opinions, hydration levels, flour types, weights and waits. Lots of details about things I already knew yet none about what I think I need to learn. Sigh.
Finally a very helpful person provided a very abbreviated version on Instagram which made more sense than all the long posts I’d previously seen. Between his advice and a few other cobbled together tips, I’m ready to bake, I think…
However, in the meantime I have two bowls of starter bubbling away in my fridge so it’s a good thing Lynn from Turnips 2 Tangerines, my assignment for this month’s Secret Recipe Club, is a prolific sourdough baker!
At some stage I want to try Lynn’s Banana Walnut Sourdough Scones and Whole Wheat Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls but it was her Sourdough Crackers that really caught my eye. The recipe called for starter — just starter — and I figured it was the perfect way to use up a bit of the bubbling beast.
There weren’t any instructions about whether the starter was to be fed or not so, as I know just enough to be dangerous, I pulled it out of the fridge the evening before and gave it a very small 100% hydration feed (as explained here, using 1 part water to 2 parts flour by volume because I couldn’t be bothered to measure weight, ahem) in preparation for morning baking.
I also made a few other adjustments, including using all rye flour — because once again who am I to follow a recipe by the letter — and while I’m not sure how the crackers were supposed to turn out to say I was pleased with them is an understatement at best.
Earthy and rich I topped them with herbal rosemary and zingy lemon, although they are bound to be re-imagined with a thousand different flavoured toppings and possibly even re-born as flatbreads with a much shorter baking time.
But I must first force myself to tackle a proper sourdough loaf.
Now I’m well aware that most people name their starters but I’ve never been very good at naming things. Case in point, I had a turtle for 4 years that went by the extraordinarily descriptive monicker of “Turtle”, and a gold mid-80’s CJ7 Jeep with no carpet and a dashboard that leaked every time it rained that was known simply as “The Beast”.
Then as I was typing this late last night I was thinking about how the first thing I made from my starter contains rye flour. Like a ghost dancing through my 2am deliriousness “rye” became “Ray” and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since. We’ll see how he goes and if Ray and I remain friends beyond my first loaf, but in the meantime there are crackers to eat.
As a side note – I’m open to any tips, great books or links to really easy beginner sourdough tutorials!
Rye Sourdough Crackers
These crisp, shattery crackers are a great way to use up extra sourdough starter — and honestly good enough to make you want to have starter in your fridge if only to make this recipe.
Adapted from Turnips 2 Tangerines.
Makes approx 100 pieces, depending on how you cut them
- 1 c sourdough starter (mine was the consistency of pancake batter)
- 1 c rye flour, plus extra for rolling
- 1/4 c olive oil, plus extra for brushing
- scant 1 tsp sea salt
- few Tbsp seasoning sprinkles (see below for ideas)
Give your starter a 100% hydration feed a few hours before using, and bring it to room temp.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and use your hand to squish it all together or stir really well. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest 30 mins so the flour can absorb the liquid.
Preheat oven 180C (350F). Use a scraper to form dough into a rough ball and kneed it in the bowl a few times until smooth-ish. Divide dough into three pieces.
On a sheet of baking paper the size of your baking pan, roll out one piece of dough at a time using your extra flour as required (see detailed notes below).
Roll very thin, and when you think it is thin enough, roll it a bit thinner.
Cut in half length-wise then cut into 1.5 inch (3-4 cm) strips. Cut each strip in half on the diagonal.
You can trim all the edges straight if you wish but leave the rough bits on the paper to snap off later as a cook’s treat.
Brush top of dough with a bit of extra oil and sprinkle with your choice of seasoning then pull the paper straight onto your baking sheet.
Bake for 10-12 mins, turning pan once halfway though.
Allow to cool on tray for two minutes then move to a rack to cool completely. Crackers will continue to crisp as they cool and can be simply snapped apart.
Roll second portion of dough as first one is baking and then repeat again with the third. Store in an airtight container.
- Flour your baking paper well and press your dough into a flat disk, flipping often to keep it floured. Then use a rolling pin (wine bottle, straight-sided glass, whatever) to roll the dough very thin.
- The dough doesn’t have much structure so it is easy to roll but hard to flip without ripping — every so often sprinkle top of dough with a bit more flour, place another sheet of baking paper on top, flip the whole thing over and remove the piece of paper that is now on top before you roll it again. I flipped mine two or three times.
- Keeping it on the paper to pull it onto the pan and simply snapping the crackers apart after baking makes it all very simple.
- I highly recommend serving with overzealous schmears of Marinated Goat Cheese.
vegan // vegetarian // dairy-free // soy-free // sugar-free // nut-free
I made mine Rosemary & Lemon by mixing 1 Tbsp dry rosemary leaves with 1 T lemon zest and a heaping tsp of sea salt — but you could experiment with pretty much any other flavour.
Need some ideas?
- Rosemary & Lemon Zest
- Cajun Seasoning
- Cumin & Oregano
- Chipotle & Lime
- Cocoa & Orange Zest
April @ Angels Homestead says
I’ve thought about getting a sourdough starter going in my fridge, but if my history with plants is any indication of how my starter would fare, It’s best I don’t. Your crackers look amazing though. Happy reveal day! 🙂
Helen (Grab Your Fork) says
These look lovely, and cook’s treats are the best!
What a pretty recipe. I love your pictures. What a great gameday recipe or after school snack. Happy SRC day!
I love all things sourdough, so I’ll be saving this to my Pinterest board for sure!
great choice for your assignment this month!
Love the post AND the crackers. Here’s to a long and happy partnership with Ray. You can find some useful sourdough info at sourdoughhome.com and cookistry.com plus a wealth of terrific recipe links at sourdoughsurprises.blogspot.com.
Lynn H @ Turnips 2 Tangerines says
Thank you so much for a wonderful post and SRC choice:) I hope you enjoyed the crackers, they look awesome~ I am also part of a monthly group called Sourdough Surprises where we make a recipe once a month with our sourdough starters…it’s a great and delicious way to keep your starter active! Thanks again for the great post and hope you and Ray have a long and happy union:) Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines
I have always been a little intimidated about making crackers, mostly for the same reason as rolled cookies: Either I roll them out too thick or too thin. But these crackers look yummy enough that I might just give it another go. Great SRC choice!
Asiya @ Chocolate and Chillies says
These crackers look amazing..I love the shape you made them.
We loved the kale chips..I actually bought 2 bunches today to make more. My youngest keeps asking if I made the crispy yet 🙂 I absolutely love the backgrounds on your blog. Do you make them yourself?
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
I snack on crackers and hummus all the time, what a smart idea to make your own!
Tania @ The Cook's Pyjamas says
Lovely crackers JJ. Just to reassure you, it to me forever to ‘get’ sourdough. And to be honest I still don’t understand hydration levels. But I can turn out a decent loaf and that is all I care about. I think it is just a matter of trying to find the method that clicks with you. There are as many methods as there are bread makers. One day it will all just fall into place and you will wonder why you ever thought it was difficult. Oh, and my sourdough starter is (and always has been) nameless. Didn’t realise I had to name it 🙂
Rye and sourdough are two of my favorite bread flavors, so these crackers seem to be right up my alley! Awesome pick this month 🙂
Claire @ Claire K Creations says
If you want tips on sourdough you have to visit Celia http://www.figjamandlimecordial.com. She is the queen of sourdough and will tell you anything you need to know.
These look great. I’m always looking for new ways to use mine because there’s always some leftover after I bake a few loaves.
ps my starter is called Kevin or as Will calls him ‘Big Kev’
Oh wow! I love your photos! I have a bag of rye flour in the pantry just waiting for this recipe.
The Wimpy Vegetarian says
It’s been awhile since I had a sourdough starter to feed. When I was in school, we all had to have our own starter. But I’m thinking of starting one for my stepdaughter who loves sourdough but can’t buy it where she lives. The starter, I’m hoping, will last for awhile. Anyway, I’m really excited to see this recipe. Pinning it right now to make. This is right up my alley! Great SRC pick this month!!
Emily @ Life on Food says
I haven’t made my own crackers yet. This was a great explanatory post. Great pick for SRC! And your photos are marvelous.
Karen @ Karen's Kitchen Stories says
Love sourdough, rye, and crackers! I must try these! Great choice.!
Kirstin Troyer says
Yum. These sound good! Great choice!
I think the most genius thing you did was the way in which you cut them. So adorable!
I have to say thankyou for a very informative post and easy to follow recipe. I shall be making later. Really cant be doing with loaves. Flat breads 4tw 🙂
coming to your lovely post & blog late in the game, sounds like we are on a similar hunt for the ever elusive yet just under our noses sourdough. Gorgeous looking crackers and inspiring recipe. I’m on my 4th version of various sourdough explosion crackers…what caught my eye in your appealing photo was the jar of marinated what? Can you share that recipe or link? Want to do it with the sourdough rye crackers, as you depict.
Hi Loretta, ah yes, I’m yet to find a simple solution! How remiss of me not to add the link to the Marinated Goat Cheese – you can find it here – http://84thand3rd.com/marinated-goat-cheese (and now added above too in the Cook’s Notes section 😉 ) ~ JJ
Even later than Loretta, but I was only looking for ways to use up the excess starter. I am reasonably competent with bread, but loathe the wastage of started at each feeding. These are excellent crackers.
I didn’t have rye at hand, so used Zentrofan, which is a fine milled 4 grain mixture of wheat, rye, barley and oats. I used lemon and thyme with black sesame seeds for a bit of eye appeal. They are excellent and I will be making them on regular rotation. Thank you.
Thanks for the note! Great to hear it’s worked well for you (and I’ll have to keep an eye out for Zentrofan, it sounds really interesting!) ~ JJ
I love these crackers, they are amazing! All the other cracker recipes I have tried are sticky and difficult to work with. This dough was perfect for rolling and handling. Ill be making many batches to come.