Whole Wheat Sourdough Crackers with Fennel and Fleur de Sel

September 2nd, 2017 by megan · No Comments

Whole Wheat Crackers with Fennel and Fleur de Sel

I managed to snag some 19th century Italian sourdough starter (for real) from a friend. It’s funky and bubbly and fun. If you’ve never attempted to keep a sourdough starter alive, let me tell you – it’s a lot like having a pet or a kid. It constantly needs to be fed and tended to. OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration – you only have to feed it once a week or once every two weeks (how awesome would it be if your kids needed to be fed only once every two weeks? Because they need to eat all.the.flipping.time) but if you forget about the poor thing, it gets a little…funky. I once had a lovely starter from King Arthur flour and killed it in a matter of months (from neglect). The liquid on top turned a truly stomach-turning black and it was all downhill from there. But this time around, I’m determined to be a better sourdough starter mommy. Feeding this starter basically boils down to weighing it on my trusty kitchen scale, measuring out a 1:1 ratio of flour to water the same weight as my starter, and mixing it all together.

I’m no sourdough starter expert, but I do know that you’re supposed to “discard” some of your starter each time you feed it. And there is no way I’m throwing away that starter – it’s gloopy, kind-of-funny-smelling liquid gold. There are all sorts of recipes out there to use up your “discard,” but this one is my favorite. It’s based on this recipe from King Arthur flour, but as is my way, I’ve never made the original and just kind of did my own thing with it. It’s infinitely changeable – I often make the recipe with chopped rosemary and black sea salt that my mom brought me back from Iceland, just to be fancy. This time around, I had a bunch of fennel seeds from the garden that my son and I painstakingly separated from their teeny, tiny, hair-like stalks, and I wanted to use them up stat. But sub in poppy seeds, anise seeds, flax seeds maybe? Chia? All would be delightful. I love the fennel crackers with goat cheese or a hard, aged cheddar.

You can find your own sourdough starter to attempt to keep alive at King Arthur flour.

Ingredients:
(Makes about 50 medium crackers, but your yield will differ depending on how small or large you make them.)

1 cup whole wheat flour (I like King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unfed sourdough starter
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
Fleur de sel or other course sea salt

Method: 
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour and the kosher salt. Preheat the oven to 400F.

2. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the sourdough starter, olive oil, and the fennel seeds. Mix until a course dough forms, then knead together once or twice to form a fairly smooth dough. Slice the dough ball in half, form each piece into a rough rectangle, and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 15-30 minutes to rest.

3. Roll out one piece of the dough on parchment paper to about a 1/16-inch thickness (i.e., about as thin as you can make it and still have the dough fit on the parchment). Transfer the dough, still on the parchment paper, to a rimmed baking sheet. Brush the dough with additional extra virgin olive and sprinkle generously with the fleur de sel.

4. Using a pizza cutter or a ravioli wheel (the ravioli wheel will give your finished crackers cool serrated edges – I love the look of them), cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. (No need to separate them before baking them!) Repeat the whole operation with the other half of the dough, or keep in the fridge for up to one week.

5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crackers are golden brown. Cool completely. Stored in an airtight container, they’ll keep for at least a week.

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