Bran crackers update

I haven’t been writing up my results lately because I’ve been doing experimenting and retrenching.

For one thing, for ease of slicing I’ve decided/realized that I need to use more water.

For another, I’ve always been sort of suspicious that this atta flour I’m using has an off flavor. The grocery store has 3 different brands, all 20 pound bags, priced from $8 to $13. Being the pinch penny that I am I bought the $8 bag. Even though I have lots of it left I decided to try getting the middle $11 bag to see how it works. So far I’m thinking that I like this one better, but I’ve changed other variables so I really can’t say for sure. I need to bake two loaves of bread with just flour, salt, and water and compare their flavors, not that I’m likely to do that.

And because I have this new flour my latest experiments have been with only atta flour; no rye flour. I need to simplify; it’s too easy for me to complicate things.

One batch I made (recipe to appear later) with just bran, atta flour, salt, and water came out nicely. Then I did a batch with about 1/4 cup of instant potato flakes. That made it easier to slice but the dried slices were a bit too tough so I should redo that one with about half of the instant potato.

I’m currently trying a batch made with sweet potato. I bought a sweet potato, diced it, put it in a metal bowl and cooked it for 7 minutes in the pressure cooker bain marie, then pureed it, then used half of that which was about half a cup. The 7 minutes may have been too long; I’ll try 5 minutes next time. Those slices are currently drying.

Standard procedure for making the rusks.

Advertisements

Rye crackers with more bran

I halved the atta flour quantity and increased the bran by the same ammount (I have to fudge the numbers slightly because my scale only does 2 grams at a time; no odd amounts displayed). The dough was very crumbly; I’m not hopeful.

84 grams wheat bran
30 grams atta flour
62 grams dark rye flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
192 grams water

Still not getting my hopes up; after its 2 hour rest the dough was definitely crumbly.

As an experiment to hold in more of the moisture and possibly help bind it together I sealed the top of the loaf pan with aluminum foil before putting it in the oven to bake. Since I’m not using any leavening the bread never rises so no worries about it pushing up against the aluminum foil.

It’s baked and cooling down. The top of the loaf looked less dried out than the ones that don’t have foil over them.

After chilling overnight in the fridge I sliced them. They sliced nicely. The aluminum foil trick definitely helps keep the final bread moist and makes it easier to slice. I’ll have to remember to do that henceforth.

The slices are in the food dehydrator drying.

I just tried one of the crackers after several hours of drying; they’re not fully dried yet but it looks like they’re not going to be too crumbly, which surprises me considering how crumbly the dough was. Perhaps baking the loaf covered with aluminum foil is the trick. I should try redoing the sorghum flour recipe with it to see if it helps. I should also see how far I can push the wheat bran percentage; I could halve the rye flour quantity to 30 grams and increase the wheat bran by another 30 grams.

After fully drying: well I’m pleasantly surprised; they came out well. They’re not crumbly and the flavor is quite reasonable. Not especially bitter. They’re also not tough so I could also slice them more thickly and give them more substance.

It seems as if the other flours somehow enable the bitterness of the bran to come through more strongly. I’m also suspecting that the atta flour I bought may be the culprit; the grocery store had 3 different brands and being the skinflint that I am, I bought the least expensive (read, cheapest) one.

Standard procedure for making the rusks.


Sorghum and atta flour crackers

These are looking good so far; I just sliced them and put them in the food dehydrator. I baked this one at the same time I baked the corn flour and millet flour loaves but had to wait until their slices were dry because I don’t have enough trays to do 6 mini loaves sliced.

Here’s the recipe; same as the others with 50% atta flour and 50% sorghum flour:

54 grams wheat bran
62 grams atta flour
62 grams sorghum flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
170 grams water

After drying: the flavor is definitely unremarkable.

The texture turned out to not be so good; they’re a bit crumbly and won’t hold up for scooping dip.

It would seem that the main advantage for sorghum flour is that it has a low glycemic index.

Standard procedure for making the rusks.


Back to crackers

I’ve sort of fallen off the wagon with my cracker making. I think it was because I had taken a wrong turn with cooking the bread in the pressure cooker. It made crackers that were too tough. And any added spices or flavorings mostly got killed off by the pressure cooker. So I decided to go back to baking in the oven.

Just before I switched to the pressure cooker I realized that I don’t want to add any leavening to the recipe; a brick is what’s needed. But I’d been experimenting with a recipe that had lots of added ingredients; potato, oil, and milk. So I decided to start from scratch, bake a recipe with just flour, water, and salt to see how that worked in the oven. Of course I couldn’t just do it with plain flour so I used half atta flour and half dark rye flour. The first batch was as follows:

1 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup atta flour
1/2 cup dark rye flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water

After mixing I put it in a small plastic bowl with a lid and let it rest for 2 hours. Then I baked it in a mini loaf pan for 1 hour in a 350 degree oven. I did the usual of letting the bread cool after it was baked, then wrapped it in a paper towel (to absorb any moisture that might otherwise collect on the inside of the plastic bag), then put it in a plastic bag and let it get fully cold in the fridge. Then I sliced it about 4 mm thick and dried it in the food dehydrator set at 105 degrees.

The crackers were fine.

Next I decided to get a bit more rigorous and use weights instead of volume measurements and add some potato.

54 grams wheat bran
62 grams atta flour
62 grams dark rye flour
22 grams dried potato flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
240 grams water

The potato makes the crackers a bit tougher. But the flavor isn’t any different.

I also did one with egg, no potato; the total fluid was about 240 grams. These were no different than the first plain batch.

Next up was corn flour:

54 grams wheat bran
62 grams atta flour
62 grams corn flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
225 grams water

And millet flour:

54 grams wheat bran
62 grams atta flour
62 grams millet flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
180 grams water

Notice that I used less water. It turned out that the corn flour dough had too much water; after it had rested for 2 hours there was some water puddled at the bottom of its container. For determining the water needed I was eyeballing and feeling the dough; I should have been feeling it more than eyeballing it since its visual appearance is deceptive.

These two are sliced and drying in the food dehydrator.

The millet flour loaf was quite crumbly and difficult to slice without the slices falling apart. I tasted some of the crumbs and bits before it was dried and it was noticeably bitter. I think I’ll try another batch with it and the potato, and maybe also an egg if the potato doesn’t help. Or perhaps use a cup of pumpkin puree.

I need to go back to the original wheat and rye recipe and try it with milk. The milk might make it more crumbly.

I’m thinking of doing something off the wall and baking the loaf for 30 or 45 minutes, then cook it in the pressure cooker for just a few minutes, at the lower pressure setting. I’m wondering if that will help make the bread denser (and easier to slice) without making the crackers too hard and not dull the flavors.

After drying: The 50% corn flour crackers are definitely crunchy with lots of snap. But the flavor is completely unremarkable. Looks like corn flour can be useful for adding crunch to the crackers.

The 50% millet flour crackers have a bit of a bitter taste. I’d say that the millet flour is a dud.

Next up is 50% sorghum flour.

Standard procedure for making the rusks.


Rusks; barley flour, pressure cooked

Since I haven’t tried barley flour pressure cooked I decided to give that a try.

1 cup barley flour
1 cup wheat bran
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
3 tablespoons instant potato
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup (approximately) water

The water quantity is an approximation. I add the water slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time. When the dough starts sticking together in clumps I let it mix longer before I add each additional tablespoon. Towards the end the dough will clump together and stick to the mixer’s paddle. In the beginning the mixer is on low; once the dough starts clumping together I put the spatter shield on the bowl and turn up the mixer’s speed. At this point, after each tablespoon of water it needs to mix for a minute or more before I add another tablespoon. As soon as it starts sticking to the bowl I stopped adding water and turned the mixer’s speed up to high. I also felt the dough with my fingers to make sure it wasn’t too stiff or too wet.

Then I put it in a greased plastic bowl with a snap on lid, but before putting its lid on it I press some plastic food wrap down onto the dough. Even with plastic on it the top darkens. I let it rest for at least an hour before I transfer it to the loaf pan and cook it.

I let the dough rest for at least 2 hours.

The reason I let the dough rest is that I read that whole grain flours don’t absorb fluids as quickly as white wheat flour does. And that the bran needs extra time to soak up its fluids. Additionally, there is enzyme activity going on that adds complexity to the flavor of the bread, but that probably requires a longer rest (for example, a day).

After its rest I put it in the mini loaf pan, buttered, tightly covered with aluminum foil, and cook it at high pressure for 25 minutes, then let the pressure go down naturally.

I set up my pressure cooker by putting the pressure cooker’s trivet in it then I put the folding steaming basket on top of it (with its center handle removed). I want the loaf pan up away from the water and I put in several cups of water.

I chill the cooked loaf overnight in the fridge. I prepare it for the fridge by wrapping it in 3 layers of paper towel and then put it in a plastic bag which I wrap around it. The paper towels pick up any moisture that comes out of the loaf; without the paper towels the moisture collects on the plastic bag and gets back on the loaf and makes its outside sticky and gummy.

Next I slice the bread at the 2 setting. I couldn’t help myself and kept eating the odd bits that weren’t well sliced. Barley flour bread is very tasty; rich and buttery, which is why I used butter instead of oil in this recipe, to accentuate the barley flour’s flavor.

The slices are drying at 115 degrees; I set the timer for 10 hours.

After drying and several hours of resting and relaxing … quite nice. Wonderful taste; nice and rich and buttery. The texture is good as well. My only complaint is that it was hard to slice them well with the slicer; the top or bottom is thinner than the other side.


Rusks; teff flour, pressure cooked, sriracha swabbed

I’ve changed my mind about the rusks that I swabbed with sriracha sauce. A day later and they’re still nicely spicy hot but their flavor is otherwise dull and boring. The texture is still good; crunchy without being tough.

Maybe I could add some cumin or ajwain seeds to make them more tasty. I do like the burn though.


Rusks; teff flour, pressure cooked

I was going to make some rusks using brown rice flour but while looking for it in the freezer I came across the jar of teff flour so I used that instead since I haven’t tried teff flour yet.

While it was mixing, at first it had an interesting smell, but as the flour got wetter the smell went away.

1 cup teff flour
1 cup wheat bran
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
3 tablespoons instant potato
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup (approximately) water

The water quantity is an approximation. I add the water slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time. When the dough starts sticking together in clumps I let it mix longer before I add each additional tablespoon. Towards the end the dough will clump together and stick to the mixer’s paddle. In the beginning the mixer is on low; once the dough starts clumping together I put the spatter shield on the bowl and turn up the mixer’s speed. At this point, after each tablespoon of water it needs to mix for a minute or more before I add another tablespoon. Instead of adding enough water so that it starts sticking to the bowl I stopped as soon as it was a stiff dough sticking to the mixer’s paddle. I was thinking that it might be better to use a dryer dough since it’s going to be pressure cooked and steamed.

Next I put it in a greased plastic bowl with a snap on lid, but before putting its lid on it I press some plastic food wrap down onto the dough. Even with plastic on it the top darkens. I let it rest for at least an hour before I transfer it to the loaf pan and cook it.

I let the dough rest for at least 2 hours.

The reason I let the dough rest is that I read that whole grain flours don’t absorb fluids as quickly as white wheat flour does. And the bran needs extra time to soak up its fluids. Additionally, there is enzyme activity going on that adds complexity to the flavor of the bread, but that probably requires a longer rest (for example, a day).

After its rest I put it in the little loaf pan, covered it with aluminum foil, and cooked it at high pressure for 25 minutes, then let the pressure go down naturally.

I set up my pressure cooker by putting the pressure cooker’s trivet in it then put the folding steaming basket on top of it (with its center handle removed). I want the loaf pan up away from the water and I’ll put in several cups of water.

I chilled the cooked loaf overnight in the fridge.

Next I sliced the bread at the 2 setting.

I think I should have added a tablespoon or more of water when I was making the dough; the slices are just on the edge of being too dry. None of the slices fell apart while handling them but I could see some small cracks in the middle of them.

About a third of the slices I swabbed with sriracha sauce that I thinned with a little water.

The slices are drying at 115 degrees; I set the timer for 6 hours.

Later, after drying and cooling: Very nice. The taste is nice as is the texture. They hold up with dipping; I made some dip with plain Greek yogurt to which I added some finely chopped fermented serrano chilis and some basil.

The ones that I brushed on the sriracha sauce also came out well; they’re nicely hot and spicy.

I’m not sure if I should have added a wee bit more water when making the dough since they do have a nice texture; they’re not too tough and not too crumbly.