Friday, July 22, 2011

Fruit and nut crackers

There's a new place in the neighborhood called Wrecking Bar Brew Pub and not only do they have the freshest, tastiest beer in town, but they also have these delicious little crackers. They're packed full of different seeds, nuts and fruit and they are great with cheese. I was slightly tipsy there one evening and was begging our server to just bring me a huge pile of them to wallow in ("All I want...are some more of these crackers. Can just get, like, a basket of these? But they're so gooooood!" And so on). She gracefully/wisely demurred and so I went home and figured out how to make them myself. This recipe is flexible--feel free to change it up with different combos of fruits and nuts! It uses a technique similar to making biscotti--first you bake the cracker batter together in a loaf, then once it is cool you slice into thin sections and bake once more until crisped.You need a total of 1 1/2 cups of seeds/nuts and 1 cup of dried fruit. In this batch I used a combination of hazelnuts, almonds, pecans and sunflower seeds for the nuts...And golden raisins and dates for the fruit. Dried cranberries would be excellent in here! Or dried apricots. So would pumpkin seeds.I liked the nutty, full flavor of the crackers at Wrecking Bar, so I figured I'd try to duplicate with a combination of whole grains along with regular white flour. You will need 2 cups of flour total and I think at least 1 cup should be regular white flour, to keep the loaf from being too dense. My combination was the following: 1 cup white + 1/2 cup rye flour + 1/4 cup wheat bran + 1/4 cup flax seed meal. The rye was a great touch although Phil thought it tasted a little like a bagel (not a bad thing if you like bagels). But you can do 1:1 with white and whole wheat, or even just all white if you feel like it.Mix the flours up very well along with 2 teaspoons baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt.Make a well in the center and add in 1/2 cup of sweetener. I used 1/4 cup each of brown sugar and honey.Measure out 2 cups of yogurt. You can also use buttermilk.And add it in!It will be a very thick batter so get ready to wrestle.And add in all your fruits and nuts! Mix it up as well you can but don't overbeat it.Actually, I don't think you can overbeat it. It's like concrete.Grease a couple of loaf pans well with olive oil, or a cooking spray. If you only have one loaf pan and really have no idea where the other one went go ahead and use your weird vintage Fire King dishes. At one point I kind of kitsch collected this stuff. These are the only two pieces I have left, now that the loaf pan has walked off.Fill 'em up. They will rise a little bit so leave some room.They bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. After they've cooled for a few minutes in their pans, turn them out to a wire rack to finish cooling off.Very nicely browned. Put the loaves into your freezer for about 15 minutes. This will make them firm and easy to slice for the next step of cracker-making. You'll need a sharp knife! I sliced mine into very thin wafer-like slices. I only used the big loaf and it made an epic quantity of these crackers. I froze the two other little ones to slice up and bake at a later point.So many crackers...Lay them in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet... And let them crisp up for 10 minutes in a 300 degree oven. Flip them over and let crisp on the other side for another 10 minutes. Some of the thinner ones may get a bit over-toasty but that's OK. Take them out and let cool.They're so flavorful! And possibly even nutritious?Wonderful with brie or farmer's cheese and some fresh figs. Enjoy!

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