Assorted crackers and ramblings

I’ve never attempted making crackers or crispbreads before. If I’m honest I’ve always been a fan of those ‘Biscuits for Cheese’ boxes, the ones from Carrs or Jacobs with assorted crackers, that you only ever seem to buy at Christmas. I’ve never felt the need to try and replicate or better them as I’m scoffing down the last crumbs of my fourth water biscuit. A few weeks ago however I thought I’d have a go myself. I knew I’d never recreate the classic Cream Cracker (not that it’s ever been one of my favourites) so I thought I’d try something a little spicier. I had a fridge full of washed rind cheeses from a Pong order that I thought might go nicely. Every so often, when I get tied of melting cheese at The Cheese Truck I order a bunch from Pong Cheeses.co.uk (who are really great by the way), scoff the lot and call it research.

I made four different crackers: cumin seed, fennel seed, plain with sea salt and wholemeal with sea salt. This recipe has a number of variations and you can create even more yourself but playing around with the types of flour and the seeds and spices. I think fennel seed and chilli flakes is a nice combination and for my wholemeal crackers I used a 50/50 mix of white and wholemeal flours. It’s a really easy recipe so play around with small batches experiment. If someone could play with different combinations of white and rye flour I’d be really interested to know the results.

Assorted Crackers

Makes roughly 24 2 inch crackers

125g Plain flour (or wholemeal flour or 50/50 white and wholemeal)

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Baking powder

3 tsp cumin, fennel, poppy, celery or caraway seeds (any that take your fancy…or a combination of them…or none)

25ml olive oil

45ml water

Sea salt or extra seeds for topping (optional)

Preheat your oven to 160°C/140°C fan/gas 3. Begin by sifting together the flour, salt and baking powder  in a large bowl. Next mix in the spices or seeds if you’re using them.

In a jug or bowl whisk together the water and olive oil until roughly emulsified or at least mixed a bit.

Gradually pour the wet mix into the flour and mix until a slightly sticky dough is formed. You may need all the water, you may not, that will depend on your flour e.g. wholemeal and rye flours will need more.

Knead the dough for 5 minutes and leave to rest for 15-20 minutes.

Generously flour a work surface and with a rolling pin roll out the dough until its roughly 2-3mm thick.

Lightly grease a baking tray and carefully transfer onto it the thin sheet of dough.

Stretch out any creases in the dough and prick all over with a fork. If you want to top the crackers with sea salt or extra seeds brush the dough light with a wet pastry brush and sprinkle over the topping.

Using a pizza wheel cut the sheet of dough into the shapes and sizes you desire. I cut some into diamonds and some into squares and rectangles, it’s up to you. It’s important to move the dough onto the tray as one whole piece and cut it on the tray. Because the dough is so thin if you cut it first and them move the individual pieces they stretch, warp and tear and you can end up with melted-clock, Dalí-esque crackers (see the photo below).

Bake the crackers for around 20-25mins until they are crisp and slightly golden. While you let the crackers cool on a wire rack take your cheese out of the fridge to come up to room temperate. Devour.

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Fennel seed (top left), cumin seed (bottom left), wholemeal with sea salt (middle bottom) and Salvador Dalí plain sea salt (bottom right) crackers

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Cheesy Apologies

It’s been a busy month. I just wanted to apologise for not posting anything here in a long time.  So for anyone who was worried I’d fallen into an abyss/been hit by a bus/cycled into by distracted hipsters, here is a short update on what I’ve been doing instead of blogging.

I’ve been working on a new project, here in London, all centred around cheese! I met a guy who wanted to start a new business selling, grilling and promoting British artisan cheeses. I learn’t a little bit about cheese making while I was at SAF so I really interested in getting involved. Who wouldn’t wanna work with delicious cheeses? For the past two months we’ve been talking ideas and refining menu items. We spent one day trialling grilled cheese recipes the other week (imagine  eating grilled cheese sandwiches for an entire day!) we’ve also been out meeting potential suppliers including the amazing charcuterie of Black Hand Food in Hackney Wick.  To start with we’re going to be going around London selling a range of grilled cheese sandwiches. We had our first outing as ‘The Cheese Truck’ last Sunday at Maltby Street market in Bermondsey. It was great fun and it’s just the start, we’ll be there again next Sunday too if you fancy a melty treat.

I promise though that new baking-related posts will be coming to this blog shortly, man cannot live by cheese alone.

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Grilling sandwiches at Maltby Street Market

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Hams curing at Black Hand Food. Thanks to Hugo for showing us around his palace of meat.

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Our flagship Cheddar, Ogleshield and onion sandwich

Happy New Year!

Just a short post to wish you all a happy new year! If you were partying on Tuesday night I hope you’re feeling a little bit more human by now. Sadly I was working new year’s eve so will have to delay my festivities for another time.

Keep your eyes peeled and try to hold off on your new year’s diet for a little longer as the first recipe of 2014 (still feels weird to say) will be coming soon! Just as soon as I get a day off to bake it.

Welcome!

Hello internet and welcome to Baker’s Day Off!

My name is Alex and this my new blog about all the different things I make on days off. I thought I’d kick things off with a little bit about me (for more you can read my About Me page). I love baking, I’m an artisan baker in London so spend most of my nights baking real bread. Even though I love making bread I rarely feel compelled to bake it at home; that doesn’t stop me however from baking everything else! A lot of people think it’s mad for a baker to want to bake on their days off but never mind, no cake for them. This blog is going to be a journey through all the cake, tart, biscuit and meringue adventures (or ordeals) that I put myself through in my spare time.

Grab your aprons and follow me.