Monday, November 2, 2015

Sourdough Whole-Wheat Crackers from "unfed" or "discarded" starter


Less than a week ago, I decided to try making my own sourdough starter, which I have never done before. I am not one to throw things out, so I already have more "discarded" dough than I know what to do with! Along with giving some away to a friend, I have been searching the Internet for ideas about what to do with all of my "unfed" or "discarded" starter. 

the amount of discarded starter I have after 5 days; I have given some
away, and I have prepared two recipes using the discarded starter

Following is my favorite recipe, so far. It still needs some mild tweeting, although for the most part, it is perfect. The flavor is good, it is relatively easy to make, and I imagine the crackers will freeze well. I will let you know how that turns out, after I get some out of the freezer.

**Update**
I made some changes after making these a few more times, and the details are listed in the recipe directions below.


Ingredients

1 cup unfed or discarded sourdough starter
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup whole-wheat flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
Olive oil
Assorted toppings: coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, herbs, finely shredded cheese, garlic salt, sesame seeds, etc.

finished crackers from first time;
some upside down and broken to show texture

Directions

Combine starter, olive oil, whole-wheat flour, and salt. Mix well, and then knead on a flour covered board until dough is all mixed and stiff. Cover loosely, and let rise for about 3 hours.

Punch dough down and roll into a large paper thin rectangle. Most of the cracker recipe information I had read online said to roll the dough no thicker than ¼". The edge cracker pieces, which were paper thin, were much tastier than the thicker ones. The next few times I made the crackers, I rolled them as thin as I could. I have posted some new photos at the end of this post.

Place rolled dough on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Brush dough with olive oil, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 365°F. Most of the recipes I found online said 350°, which is what I used when I wrote this original post. As I was tweaking the temperature to create cracker crispness, I thought 375° was too high, and I settled on 365°.

Cut dough into rectangles or triangles using a pizza cutter. Make indentations in the crackers with fork tines, if desired (think saltines). I did this with some of the crackers after I had made these the first time, although it did not seem to make much difference with the cracker crispness. 

Sprinkle dough with desired toppings. I used the same type of toppings I sprinkle on my whole-grain bagels, which are listed in the ingredients list above.

photo taken after the outer edge crackers had been removed to the plate;
I then placed this back in the [turned off] oven with the door ajar

Place oven racks in top positions in oven. Place baking sheets in oven, and bake until crackers are crisp, 18 to 20 minutes. Immediately remove crackers to a cooling rack to allow air flow to completely cool. I initially left my crackers on the baking sheet since several people reported online that this made the crackers crisper. I have made these crackers several times now, and that has NOT been my experience. My crackers were crisper, when I removed them from the baking sheet, and put them on a rack to cool.

Leave crackers on the counter in an uncovered container overnight. The next day, store in a sealed bag or container. The crackers freeze very well.

Below are recent photos showing the cracker results with the modifications. If you plan on eating the crackers the same day, I would not worry about rolling the dough paper-thin, as the crackers in the first two photos did not lose their crispness until after being stored.

showing the fork tine marks

crackers on left (in both photos) cooked
on airbake sheets, and crackers on the
right cooked on stoneware












The photos are not edited. The crackers on the airbake sheets came out a different color, and they were crisper, than the crackers cooked on the stoneware. Some of the crackers on the stoneware baked with an air bubble, like shown in the photo on the right, and that did not happen to any of the crackers on the airbake sheets. I made future crackers on the airbake sheets, since the result was crisper.


baked at 365°

Let me know how you like this idea, and please share your ideas, too!