Monday, May 8, 2017

Sourdough Discard Cheese Pretzel Franken-Crackers

I received a sourdough starter from my sister in law this past Christmas (his name is Gerald).

I like baking the occasional super lazy loaf of bread but frankly sourdough bread is a helluva undertaking and I can barely be trusted to keep my starter alive in the fridge much less lovingly feed it up twice a day for a week, and anyway why bother with all that when I already have to find a way to use up my discard starter. So in my attempts to find inventive and delicious ways to not throw out food (regardless of the fact that it's barely a step away from paper mache) I turned instead to an enduring love of mine, the snacky cracker.

Based on the stuff I tend to have on hand and my own tastes I ended up switching back and forth pretty regularly between two recipes but ever the fiddler, of course I ended up smashing them together to form delicious snacky Voltron.

The first attempt was a cheese cracker because lets not fool ourselves, cheese.


This yielded a pretty amazing cracker comparable to what cheese nips WISH they could be, BUT it required one entire cup of discard, eight hours of dough resting, a fairly large amount of cheese, and working in multiple batches. Fantastic if I JUST HAPPENED to have everything on hand, was super bored, and wanted some crackers sometime tomorrow.

But frankly, I'm always busy and I always want crackers now. Enter the Pretzel Cracker Recipe

BakeNQuilt - Sourdough Surprises: Pretzel Crackers

I did two batches so one was a straightforward coarse salt, the other was vanilla sugar. These were fast and light and crisp and super easy but they were just... missing something.

The second time I made them I realized my olive oil had gone rancid (???) and I had to sub in another oil. Remembering the butter in the earlier recipe and figuring the temps were not so far off that I had to worry about burning I took a gamble and it paid off. Noms.

From there I started to really play. Mustard/garlic/paprika/butter pretzel crackers, a successfully halved batch of the cheese crackers, Honey/mustard/Worcestershire/toasted garlic pretzel crackers... you name it.

Each has its strengths and weaknesses but in the end I grew weary of each and sought to create my own hybrid.

So this is what I've come up with:

Cheese Pretzel Franken-Crackers

Active Prep in total: probably about 15-20 min
Resting time: 30 min to 1 hr
Cooking time 20-25 minutes

Mix together wet for starter mix:

  • 1/2 cup discarded sourdough starter
  • 2 tsb oil (have used both melted butter and olive oil successfully)

Mix together dry for flour mix:

  • 1/2 cup (I usually use ~2oz by weight) white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • heavy dash paprika (I use a smoked paprika)

Set up and hold aside for later

  • 2-3 oz firm cheese finely shredded/grated  (I have used asiago and several cheddars)
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • coarse sea salt or other garnish of choice


  • Combine starter mix and flour mix until it forms a soft dough
  • shape into a rectangular piece approx 1/2 inch thick - wrap and let rest in fridge 30 min-1hr

While dough is resting

  • Heat water to boiling and add baking soda 
  • stir to combine, set aside, and allow to cool

After dough has rested

  • preheat oven to 375
  • begin kneading dough, incorporating shredded cheese thoroughly a handful at a time 
  • the dough will be loose due to the cheese but once the cheese is well incorporated and you see it start firming up a little it should be good to go 

Rolling out

  • Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until comfortably covering the majority of a cookie sheet and ~ 1/16 inch thick 
  • erring on the thin side will give you a very light crisp cracker, erring on the thicker side will give you a pleasantly tender cracker
  • Caveat: I have completely forgotten the light flouring part once or twice and been just fine

Once dough is the preferred shape and thickness

  • brush entire surface with cooled baking soda wash and allow to soak in ~2 minutes
  • flip dough over onto lightly floured final baking surface (if you happen to have two silpat sheets you will be very happy for that fact at this point) 
  • repeat baking soda brushing and soaking
  • Sprinkle top with coarse sea salt or topping of choice (Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel Seasoning is AMAZING for this) 
  • Cut with pizza cutter or knife into squares - you do not have to separate the pieces

Bake for 20-25 minutes total, turning tray half way

  • Start checking the edge crackers to watch for browning at about 15 minutes and pull out any well browned crackers
  • I have only ever done these on a silpat on a dark coated cookie sheet, you may want to watch a little more carefully on a different surface
  • Remove crackers to cool on a rack

Attempt not to eat them all in one sitting, but know that you will probably fail.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Oh uh, hey there!

Holy cow, I have no idea what I've been doing that has me so busy lately.

The last month has been kind of a blur though.
Between busy season at work, the start of summer in general, a bunch of concerts, some family birthdays and the start of the Pennsic prep season I feel like I'm all over the place.

Heaven And Earth Designs - Mini Shades of Red
I feel like I haven't gotten any crafting done at all this month though I guess that's not entirely true. I switched from my Garden of Delight cross stitch to restart Shades of Red on a different fabric and while I haven't gotten as far as I'd like I probably have about a quarter to a third of a page done. I'll toss a current pic up on here once I get home.

Image Anddrewgallichan on flickr

My main project of late has been Podcasting. I finally came up with a really solid topic and it immediately snowballed from there. I haven't started recording yet but I finally have most of what I need to get started...except that my desktop computer had a massive fail in the middle of a forced Windows 10 update and it's taken about a week to get back up and running.

If you are interested in learning about Forensic Psychology, True Crime, or even just hearing what the heck my voice sounds like keep an eye on @Quidproquocast on Twitter and Facebook (and soon .org though the site isn't up and running yet).

Hmm, what else...

Back in Black
I'm a brunette again! Though I do still have one blue streak in the front so I guess I'm a bluenette?

Potato and English pea samosas with saag and cilantro chutney
I've also been cooking a lot more since we started Blue Apron and that takes up a CONSIDERABLE amount of time but I'm kind of enjoying it. There are the obligatory pics on my instagram if you're into that sort of thing.

I guess that's it for the moment, I mostly just wanted to say Hi!

Baby crowned Sifaka lemur - yes this is a real live creature,

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

In lieu...

It's Monday so I didn't want to leave you with NOTHING.
I stayed late at work and needed a decompress so the majority of the column directly under the red flower is what happened in lieu of a blog post today. 

I regret nothing!

Actually that reminds me, in mid June I will be starting the NYS Summer Run Series races (strong suspicion I'm going to regret *that*) so my Mondays are going to be WELL accounted for. 

I have however enjoyed the exercise of reflecting back on my week each week so I will see what works out for a new Bat time on this here Bat channel.