Monday, May 16, 2011

Oatmeal Crackers

Did I tell you that I met Heidi Swanson, you know, 101 Cookbooks Heidi, Super Natural Everyday Heidi Swanson?

VIA the Spare room - check out other pictures from the night
Yep, we shook hands, smiled, exchanged a few brief words, my cheeks turned red, so red it looked liked I used beets as blush but she still signed a book for me and one for a sweet friend of mine. I resisted the urge, I wanted to buy a book for all my friends, but apparently I am still unemployed and not everyone is as fond of cookbooks as I seem to be these days.
The Spare Room is an absolutely beautiful studio, we all gathered on a sunny Seattle Saturday afternoon, I wore one of my favorite black dresses and walked as if I was 10 feet tall. I met a few new friends, Tara waved me down and said hello, making my night shine, I ran into an old friend from Bellingham and ate a few doughnut truffles from Lara and sipped on a little bubbly. 

Priceless experience and incredibly inspiring. Heidi makes cooking, photography and living in general all seem effortless. With the talent she poses, life probably is. She makes eating a vegetarian diet easy and incredibly satisfying. I am on the Super Natural Everyday band wagon, the simple approachable easy cooking and eating that leaves me feeling good about myself and the work I do to create it. Heidi has single-handily inspired me to get in the kitchen and make food that I enjoy eating as much as making.

Along came these oatmeal crackers on Heidi's award winning and beautiful blog, 101 Cookbooks. Why was I drawn to making crackers, an item that is so over produced that an entire isle is designated to boxed crunch, an item that takes time to make and easy to pick up at the super market. Crackers are my weakness and let it be known that I should not be left at home with a box of crackers, some people will tear through the sweets at their disposal, me I reach for crunchy salty crackers or chips. I like *love* crackers but I do not like crazy wonky fats and I want a little control of what kind of flour goes into these crunchy snacks.

To create my own perfect cracker is a beautiful of experience in my little black book and apparently just as important to Heidi. These crackers are worth a little time and effort. They store beautifully in an airtight jar and are a great way to scoop up this hummus, add it to a snack as part of the Meatless Monday Campaign, or to give away as a a healthy little treat to friends and family.

Oatmeal Crackers

Only so slightly adapted from 101 Cookbooks and The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas.

Enjoy the smell of cooking oats in rich creamy milk, there is nothing as sweet as that smell.
1 cup / 3 oz / 85 g rolled oats
1 1/4 cups / 300 ml whole milk or half and half, heated just to boiling
1/4 cup / 2 oz / 55g room-temperature unsalted butter
4 tablespoons natural cane sugar
3 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 1/4 cup / 5.5 oz / 155g dark rye flour
1 1/2 cups / 6.75 oz / 190g all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
more salt for sprinkling (flakier salt)
In a large bowl combine the rolled oats and boiling milk. Let stand until cool. To speed this up, place the bowl in the freezer for about 35 minutes.

When cool, stir in the butter, sugar, baking powder, salt, and rye flour. Stir in the all-purpose flour, a bit at a time, until a stiff dough forms. Turn out onto a counter top and knead until the dough comes together and is uniform.

Heat the oven to 425F / 245C with racks in top and bottom thirds.

Divide the dough into three parts, you want to have a manageable amount to work with so you can roll the dough out very thin - 1/8th-inch. The crackers will have snap and will bake evenly if they are thin and the same thickness. 

Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheets [they don't spread much), and sprinkle with a bit more salt - flaky salt if you have it. Bake for roughly 14 minutes, but here's the trick. When the cracker bottoms are deeply golden, roughly 9 minutes in, flip each cracker, and brown the flip side as well. Use your best judgement and remove when well done, watch out, they burn fast.

Cool completely before storing in large air-tight jars.

Repeat with the remaining dough, and cut the scraps into tiny soup crackers.

Makes dozens of crackers, depending on how large or small you cut them.

Prep time: 45 min - Cook time: 15 min

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