(Warning - don’t try these at home)
We cruise in remote areas along the Pacific Northwest coast, so I often miss joining the monthly baking activity with SourdoughSurprises. Last month we were anchored in Kisameet Bay in the Central Coast region of B.C. on July 20, completely out of cellphone or wi-fi range, and since we don’t have a firm float plan our August 20 whereabouts are uncertain. No matter, I decided to bake away, pre-schedule a post when I found an unexpected wi-fi connection in Ocean Falls, and hope someone can help with a linkup when the time comes.
Oh my yes, this was an interesting sourdough cracker misadventure. Grin. “Interesting” is a useful adjective, it can mean so many things. Read on, shake your head and laugh along with me.
Instead of modifying one of my existing, non-sourdough cracker recipes, I based these crackers on a recipe published in a small 32-page pamphlet I found in a Ketchikan bookstore years ago. Two assumptions led me down a frustrating path. 1. Thinking an Alaskan bookstore would stock only the best in sourdough recipes, I didn’t question the ingredients or ratios. 2. Reasoning that a publisher with a 50-year history and over 200 titles in their Country Wisdom Bulletin series must have solid content. Hmmmm, "maybe" on both counts. Of course, it could have been the cook; another "maybe" on that thought.
Moving on to the actual crackers. These were seriously salty little suckers, tough rather than crisp, more firm like hardtack than brittle like a cracker. Nope, not at all what I expected from a cracker recipe. The dough was stiff, resisted rolling out in one tidy piece, and threw off a lot of sesame seeds as it was rolled. What bad manners from my usually agreeable sourdough starter.
Initial response? Meh. Better taste another one… or two… and soon we noticed that two dozen sesame crackers were gone. There was something about these one-bite nibbles that kept both of us coming back for “just one more.” Something, but certainly not texture.
The sesame seeds gave the recipe a faintly Asian tilt, so I paired the crackers with Asian Salmon Burger Sliders for an unusual appetizer. Slather on some wasabi-flavored cream cheese, add a dollop of Thai sweet chili sauce and top with a tiny salmon burger, done. Each cracker was sturdy enough to support a moist, mini salmon patty and the sesame flavor played well with the ginger, garlic, green onions and Ponzu sauce in the burger for a satisfying mouthful.
The crackers were merely tough on the first day, on day two you had to work hard to nibble away a corner, and I’ll bet by day three you could chip a tooth trying to gnaw a bite. We didn't try any to find out; I fed the few remaining to the seagulls. The recipe below is for information only, not recommended by this galley cook. I still need a good sourdough cracker recipe, so I’m extra eager to see the successes shared by the other SourdoughSurprises bakers.
(Note: we enjoyed a pan of sourdough sticky buns that same morning, the July challenge topic from SourdoughSurprises. They were incredibly tasty, saving the day and my reputation!)
Sourdough Sesame Crackers
Recipe from Baking with Sourdough by Sara Pitzer
Makes 4 dozen bite-sized crackers
½ cup refreshed and active sourdough starter
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons salt (I’d use much less next time, if there is a next time)
about 1 cup unbleached AP flour (amount depends on the consistency of your starter)
¼ cup white sesame seeds
Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
Add the salt to the flour and whisk to combine.
Add the cooled butter and as much flour as you can work in.
When the dough is very stiff, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead in the sesame seeds, adding more flour as needed to achieve a stiff dough. (Pitzer suggests resting the dough for a few minutes, covered with a damp tea towel, to make it easier to knead.)
When the dough is very stiff, use a rolling pin to roll it out very very thin, 1/16 inch or less.
Cut the crackers with a sharp knife or a sharp, round cutter. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, separated slightly. Use a fork to poke holes in the tops so they don’t puff up as they cook.
Bake in a preheated 400 F oven until the tops brown slightly, roughly 7 to 10 minutes.
Cool the crackers on a wire baking rack. Store them in an airtight container.