Barley crackers, a new directionPosted: 8 August 2011
Turns out that the barley crackers were gumming up my digestive system. Since wheat bran is my cure for a torpid digestive system I decided to try making barley crackers with wheat bran.
The way I’m using the wheat bran is it’s soaked first in hot water. I use 1/2 cup of wheat bran and pour over it 1 cup of boiling water. I want to make sure that the wheat bran is fully saturated. After it’s soaked for a while and cooled down I dump it into a strainer and let it drain while I’m measuring and mixing the dry ingredients in the mixer and mixing in the oil. I’ve also reduced the flour to 3/4 cup. I tried 2/3 cup of flour but that was too sticky. Even after draining the wheat bran and pressing it with the back of a spoon in the strainer it’s retaining a lot of water; when it’s mixed with the dry ingredients it only takes a few teaspoons of water for the dough to come together.
At first it was the usual problem of not enough snap, or being too tough. One evening, while chewing, and chewing, and chewing on a tough wooden cracker it occurred to me that maybe they’re just not being cooked enough. Remembering how useful re-baking was with making rusks I decided to try that. And it worked very well.
So what I do now is I bake them at 350 for 30 minutes; 15 minutes on each side. Then I take them out and transfer them to wire cooling racks that are in a big cookie sheet. While I’m transferring them to the wire cooling racks the oven door is open and it’s been turned down to 200. When the oven’s temperature has dropped to 200 I put them in for another 15 minutes. Finally: reliably crispy, snappy crackers.
Now I need to go back and start reducing the starches I’m adding. The last batch had 1 tablespoon of corn starch and 2 tablespoons of arrowroot. I’m guessing that I could probably drop it down to just 1 tablespoon of arrowroot. I need to try using just 1 tablespoon of each starch by itself; cornstarch, arrowroot, or tapioca starch. I also have some potato starch which I’ve never tried.
As an experiment I tried making some with masa harina; they were tasty.
1/2 cup barley flour
1/4 cup masa harina
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons arrowroot
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup wheat bran
1 or more teaspoons water
Pour 1 cup boiling water over the wheat bran and let soak and cool. While the wheat bran is soaking mix the dry ingredients in the mixer and drizzle in the oil. After the wheat bran has cooled dump it into a strainer and let it drain, then use the back of a spoon and press out what water you can. Then add it to the dry ingredients a teaspoon at a time. After it’s well mixed add water, 1 teaspoon at a time and let it mix fully before adding another teaspoon. When the right amount of water is fully mixed into the dough the dough will stop being a ball that’s mostly stuck to the mixer’s paddle and start sticking to the sides of the bowl as a very stiff batter. If you add too much water and the dough will be too sticky; not enough and it the crackers will have rough edges. Err on the side of a bit too little than a bit too much. It’s not too hard to knead in some extra water after it’s rested. Wrap the dough in plastic or put it in a covered bowl and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. After it’s rested break off pieces of an appropriate size (10 grams, for example) and roll into balls and set aside. After it’s all rolled into balls then flatten them in a pasta machine or a tortilla press, or roll the dough out with a rolling pin and cut.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, turning over after 15 minutes. After they’ve baked turn the oven down to 200 and put them back in the oven on wire cooling racks for their final crisping for 15 minutes.