Barley crackers, a success

I made 3 batches today and the last one is finally getting close to what a batch of crackers is supposed to be like.

I was thinking that all of the cracker recipes I’ve read are using a higher temperature than I’m using. For some reason I got it into my head that 250 was the right temperature; everyone else is using 350 or above. So I switched to 350 using the previous recipe of 1 cup barley flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon or thereabouts of xanthan gum. Still tough as leather.

Next I tried it without the xanthan gum, everything else the same. Same leathery crackers.

Finally, seeing that several recipes used cornstarch I tried that; 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Finally, crackers with snap! Here’s the final recipe:

1 cup barley flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon water

The water measurement is strange because what I did is fill a 1/2 measuring cup with water and then spoon it into the flour 1 tablespoon at a time. Once the flour started turning into a dough I turned the mixer up higher and then added another tablespoon at a time after letting each get fully mixed. At one point the dough forms a ball and gets knocked around the bowl by the mixer’s paddle. At this point ordinarily you’d think it’s ready, but I remembered that it ends up being too dry after resting so I added another tablespoon and let it mix for several minutes at high speed. The last tablespoon, the 7th, turns the ball of dough into a very stiff batter that sinks to the bottom of the bowl. Similar to what happened with the buckwheat. But I wasn’t worried, not too much at least, because I was counting on it becoming workable after its rest. In order to get it out of the mixer bowl and put it in a little covered plastic bowl and let it rest I had to use the spatula. It was definitely sticky and required fast and delicate handling.

Sure enough, after the rest it was workable. Then I used the scale making 14 gram pieces and rolled them into balls and put them aside. Then after it was all rolled into balls I rolled them into little stubby cigar shapes and flattened them in my palm, then ran them through the pasta machine. They’re marginally round. They look like crackers Wilma Fintstone would make.

I baked them for 14 minutes, then took them out and flipped them over and then they went back in for another 14 minutes. Before they go in the oven they get pricked with a fork all over. I’m using an ungreased nonstick cookie sheet.

They have a nice snap and crunch. Unfortunately the cornstarch slightly changes the flavor. Without it they have a wonderfully rich sort of buttery taste which I really like; with the cornstarch they’re not quite so rich and buttery tasting and there’s a slight bit of some other taste. I’m going to try making another batch and use arrowroot instead of cornstarch and see how that turns out. I may also try a batch with the tapioca starch. I also have some vital wheat gluten which I’ve never tried. I could also try a mixture of these various starches. And I want to see how much I can reduce the amount of starch I’m using; perhaps it will only need a teaspoon or so. I may also be able to reduce the oil.


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