I’ve been obsessed with the flavor of rye lately. It had been on my mind and I ended up improvising a loaf of rye bread with a salt crust that came out amazing and I’m kicking myself because I didn’t write anything down, so now I can neither reproduce it nor share it with you, at least until I have another try at it. Anyhow, I think rye has an amazing flavor that deserves to be more widely used. I’ve got in mind to try rye crepes, and maybe a rye crumble for an apple crisp. Those are experiments for another day, but for today let me show you how to make simple and flavorful rye crackers.
Now oddly, I’ve never made crackers before. I remember a friend saying they had been making their own, and another friend saying, basically that there are perfectly fine crackers at the supermarket and they can’t imagine why any right thinking person would do it themselves. Naturally I took that as a challenge! And I think there are good reasons to make them yourself, at least occasionally. They taste fresher and better than most anything you can buy. And compared to the price of the best grocery store crackers, you certainly save a lot of money.
I based my ratios for these crackers on Lucy’s lovely looking semolina crackers. When I went to look at her about page and book, I realized her publisher is Harvard Common Press too. What a small world!
It took me 3 batches to get these coming out the way I saw them in my mind’s eye (tasted them with my mind’s tongue? that doesn’t sound quite right). The keys are (1) get them really, really thin (2) brush with a generous amount of olive oil and sprinkle on a generous amount of salt, (3) bake them until quite deeply brown. These details make the difference between a brutish, somewhat underflavored cracker and one that has a bright snap and a pop of rye, caraway and salt. I ate the whole batch in a day.
Yields about 36 big crackers
- 1 cup (128 grams) rye flour
- 1 cup (128 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (150 grams) warm water
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (22 grams) + more for brushing
- 2 tablespoons caraway seeds (11 grams)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (5 grams)
- Maldon (aka the world’s greatest salt) salt for sprinkling
- Combine rye flour, all-purpose flour, water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, caraway seeds and kosher salt in a stand mixer outfitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium low-speed, scraping down occasionally, until a dough forms. Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium-low for about 8 minutes. (You can also mix and knead this dough by hand.)
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 F, using convection if available.
- Divide the dough into 3 parts and wrap 2 of them back up in plastic. Place the first piece of dough between the smooth side of two silpats. You could also use parchment paper cut to the size of your baking sheet. Roll out until very thin. It should cover about 80% of the surface area of the silpat. Remove the top silpat and transfer the bottom one to a sheet pan. Brush generously with additional olive oil and sprinkle on Maldon (aka the world’s greatest salt) sea salt to taste, breaking the crystals up between your fingers as you sprinkle.
- Bake until deep golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Cool on a rack and then break up into random-sized crackers.