How important can baking perfect sourdough crackers be? Well, if you are the Executive Chef of the soon-to-be-world-famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen, it can mean a lot. For Chef Blondie it meant 16 days of agonizing anxiety, a second brutal disaster, hours of painstaking research and testing. And in the end, it meant the joy of ultimate victory.
Do I write with too much drama in my words? Consider that the purpose of the SFH Test Kitchen is to test. More precisely, it is to test and perfect. Chef Blondie knows the job isn’t done until she’s mastered a new recipe. Nothing short of mastery will suffice. And mastery often comes only after there has been a failure or two along the way. So yes, there’s been drama in our Test Kitchen. But it is passion directed towards success.
Sourdough Crackers – The Testing Process
In my post Sourdough Crackers – Test Kitchen Faux Pas, I recounted how we researched an array of sourdough cracker recipes. Chef Blondie selected one from the website Our Gabled Home. Anja has posted many good and reliable recipes on her site, and the Test Kitchen staff thought the post How to Make Sourdough Crackers provided an excellent overview of the topic.
Test #1 – Fatal Blunder
It would be painful to force myself to revisit that terrible day in the SFH-Test Kitchen when we conducted Test #1. We were negligent in our duties, and we suffered the penalty. If you haven’t read the sad story, you may do so here.
Test #2 – We Overcompensated
In Test #1 we burned the crackers. The flavor was there, but one would never serve those crispy critters to a guest. In response to our failure, the test kitchen staff unconsciously over compensated. Instead of simply saying we baked the crackers too long, we mistakenly blamed at least a part of the failure on the equipment we used.
Anja specified in her recipe that she used a silicone baking mat. We had used parchment paper. Ol’ Fuzz Face, rather naively said, “Well, perhaps we should follow Anja’s recipe to the letter.” He was so keen on that idea that he immediately had the test kitchen foot the bill for a set of silicone baking mats.
Sourdough Crackers – Mistaken Notions
In Test #2 we underbaked the crackers. There are two big reasons why.
- First: Chef Blondie made it clear that time was a critical factor. She set the timer for 18 minutes. At that point she watched the sourdough crackers turn a beautiful golden brown. She assumed they were done.
- Second: The use of a silicone baking mat subtly changed the whole baking equation. Our staff never considered that the baking mat would transfer heat more slowly than parchment paper.
As this picture clearly shows. We had what looked like a perfect pan of sourdough crackers. – It was not!
Those crackers did not crack. They would bend, but they would not and could not crack. – Crackers they were not!
Test #3 – We have sourdough crackers!
Chef Blondie’s complexion and demeanor after the second failure shall not be described here. Let’s just say that she was somewhat displeased.
Just as she had after Test #1, Chef Blondie assembled the entire Test Kitchen staff. We evaluated our procedures and our choice of equipment. We learned the following: We had overcompensated. And even worse, we had made wrongful assumptions. – We would try again!
In Test #3, we followed Anja’s recipe, but Chef Blondie made some simple modifications. When you view her modified recipe, you will see why she is both a master of the science and of the art of cooking.
As this picture clearly shows. We had what looked like a perfect pan of sourdough crackers. – It was!
Those crackers did not bend. They would not and could not bend, but they certainly would crack. – Crackers they were!
Sourdough Crackers – Summary
Once again, Chef Blondie assembled the entire Test Kitchen staff. We taste tested our sourdough crackers. – They were perfect. The addition of our own home-grown rosemary was a true delight.
Even Mr. Monte participated in our Sourdough Crackers Victory. He personally chose the selection of Gruyère, Jarlsberg, and Blue cheeses, we would feast upon when tasting these superb crackers.
Yes, Chef Blondie was true to her promise, “We will recover from this disaster! We will make a great batch of Rosemary Sourdough Crackers. And when we do, we will give the world the recipe.”
And so, dear readers, here is the SFH Test Kitchen recipe for Rosemary Sourdough Crackers.
Rosemary Sourdough Crackers
- non-reactive bowl
- Rolling Pin
- parchment paper or silicone baking mat
- cracker roller or knife, or serrated pastry cutter
- cookie sheet
- airtight container
- 1 cup flour all-purpose
- 1 cup sourdough starter discard or sourdough starter
- ¼ cup olive oil extra virgin (or a bit less than ¼ cup)
- 1 TBSP chopped fresh rosemary or crushed dried rosemary
- ½ tsp sea salt
- To a non-reactive bowl add 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sourdough starter (or discard), ¼ cup of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped rosemary, and ½ teaspoon of salt.
- Mix all the ingredients until you have a smooth dough that is not sticky. If it is still sticky, you can gradually add a bit more flour until it comes together.
- Loosely cover the dough and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
- Preheat your oven to 375˚F.
- Take the dough out of the refrigerator and with a rolling pin, roll it out on parchment paper (or a silicone baking mat) as thinly as possible. Lifting and turning the dough every so often will help getting the dough very thin. Don't worry about uneven edges.
- With a cracker roller (or serrated pastry cutter or simply a knife), cut the dough into long strips. Then cut the dough perpendicular to make squares or rectangles.
- If not using a cracker roller, use a fork to prick each square or rectangle twice. This will allow air to escape during baking.
- Place the parchment paper (or silicone mat) on a cookie sheet, place it in the oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
- When done, remove the crackers from the cookie sheet and let cool. For best results, store the sourdough crackers in an airtight container.
- Enjoy plain, with some homemade butter, hummus, cheese, or your favorite spread!