Rye crackers

Rye crackers

By
From
Gather
Serves
4-6
Photographer
Andrew Montgomery

The fermenting leaven in these crackers gives them a really good flavour and a unique, brittle texture. Feel free to customize the cracker as you like. Here, I use caraway seed, because I love that flavour with rye, but sesame, linseed, poppy or sunflower would be really nice, too. The crackers are perfect with cheese, or with a delicate parfait and a little fruit jelly, or with something pickled. They keep well in an airtight container for several days.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
150g active rye starter
100g light rye flour, plus extra for scattering
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon caraway seeds

Method

  1. Place the rye starter, the flour and about 80–100ml water in a bowl and beat well with a wooden spoon until thick – the mixture should be the consistency of very thick batter or very sticky dough. Cover, and leave to ferment in a warm place for 2–3 hours.
  2. Heat the oven to 120°C. Line a large, flat 35 x 35cm (or equivalent rectangular) baking tray with baking parchment or, better still, with a non-stick silicone mat.
  3. Using a spatula or palette knife, spread the cracker mixture out as evenly and thinly as you can over the parchment or mat. Bring it right up to the edges. Scatter over the salt, caraway seeds and a generous extra shake of rye flour. Bake in the oven for 45–50 minutes, until firm to the touch.
  4. Remove the tray from the oven and use a palette knife or spatula to carefully lift the cracker from the parchment or silicone mat, easing it away in one piece.
  5. Return the cracker to the oven, this time directly on the oven shelf, for a further 20 minutes, until it appears quite brittle. If it’s not brittle after this time, pop it back in the oven and check it every 4–5 minutes until it is. Then, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool.
  6. To serve, either bring the cracker to the table whole for your guests to crack and snap as required; or break it up and serve it in smaller pieces.

For the rye starter

  • A rye starter is fermentation of flour and water. It contains natural, ‘wild’ yeasts and lactic acid bacteria. The wild yeasts produce carbon dioxide as well as alcohol, to make your bread rise. The bacteria help to give your bread its complex flavour. I use wholemeal rye flour because it seems to produce the most active starter; I also love its sweet nutty flavour. To make your own starter follow the steps below:

    Day 1 Place 25g flour with 50ml warm water in a clean bowl. Stir well, cover and leave overnight in a warm place (ideally at a temperature of around 30°C).

    Days 2, 3 and 4 Every day add a further 25g rye flour and 50ml warm water to the existing mix. After each addition, stir well, cover and set aside in the same warm place. (By Day 3 the mixture should be showing signs of fermentation.)

    Day 5 You should now have 300g or so of active rye starter, which you can now use in your baking. Keep the mixture in the fridge when you’re not using it, but make sure to feed it once or twice, each time adding a further 25g rye flour and 50ml warm water, to ensure it’s active before using again. Each time you use a quantity of active starter in your baking, replace its weight with a mixture of fresh flour and water in a ratio of 1 part flour to 2 parts water, and allow it to ferment for next time.

Tags:
River Cottage
seasonal
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