Bread Baking: Ethereal Crisps

[Photograph: Donna Currie]

These lighter-than-air crispy crackers make their way to my holiday table quite often. They aren't always the same—sometimes I change out the flour, or I add seeds. This time, the interesting ingredient addition was cooked grits. (Or polenta if you prefer.)

You can use these crisps for appetizers, to accompany a cheese or dip, or put them in the bread basket to add a little variety. People will be amazed that you made your own crackers, particularly crackers that are this amazingly thin.

You can make these a day or two ahead, if you like. They're a bit fragile, but if they break, it's no problem. Sometimes I leave just one or two of them whole for presentation, and break the rest into smaller pieces for serving.

These need to be rolled very, very thin to get the proper effect. But that's not the hard part. The hard part is that they cook very fast, and there's a fine line between done and burned. You don't have time to check your email when one is in the oven.

The cooked grits in this version added a slightly corny flavor to the crisps, but it's not like eating a corn chip. The flavor is subtle enough that it won't interfere with whatever you're serving with them, but it adds a bit of complexity to what would otherwise be a pretty plain cracker.

About the author: Donna Currie has been cooking for fun and writing for pay since the days when typewritten articles traveled by snail mail. When she combined those talents in a food column for a newspaper in her area, she realized that writing about food is almost as much fun as eating. She launched the blog Cookistry and has now joined the Serious Eats team with a weekly column about baking.

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Bread Baking: Ethereal Crisps

About This Recipe

Active time:about an hour
Total time:about 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 ounces (1 cup) white whole wheat flour
  • 6 3/4 ounces (about 1 1/4 cups) bread flour
  • 1 cup cooked grits, cooled slightly
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons warm water (more as needed)

Procedures

  1. 1

    Put the flours, grits, and salt into food processor and pulse several times to distribute ingredients. With processor running, add water through feed tube slowly, until mixture comes together in ball. You might need more or less water, depending on how wet your grits were. Don't add water too quickly, or you could add too much and end up with a sticky dough that requires a lot more flour to compensate. Continue processing until dough is relatively smooth and elastic. It will be bumpy from grits, but dough should be smooth and stretchy.

  2. 2

    Set dough aside while your oven preheats to 550°F. For best results, use pizza stone. Alternatively, use baking sheet preheated in oven. When oven has heated, divide dough into 12 pieces. Keep covered with plastic wrap. Flour work surface and roll first ball until it is very thin roughly circular, about 8 inches in diameter.

  3. 3

    Brush off excess flour and carefully transfer first piece to hot baking stone. Set timer for one minute. Flip cracker over after first minute. It should be somewhat stiff but still pale. Set timer for another minute and check cracker. It should be almost crisp enough, and possibly starting to color. Set timer for another minute and check cracker at intervals. Once it starts browning, it goes fast, so check time and use that to time remaining crackers.

  4. 4

    If you're fast enough, you should be able to roll the next cracker as the previous one bakes. Let each cracker cool on rack before you begin stacking them. Store completely cooled crackers in covered container at room temperature.

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