Pasta Machine Crackers

crackersthumb.JPGIf you've got a pasta machine, did you know it can do other things besides making pasta?

Here's one of them - you can make these sweet glazed crackers

The Recipe

Ingredients:

For The Crackers

  • 100g Plain flour
  • 2 Tablespoons olive or sunflower oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon dry fast-action bread yeast
  • 1 Teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Pinch of salt
  • Water to mix - about 4 tablespoons

For The Glaze

  • 1 Teaspoon honey
  • 1 Teaspoon white sugar

Method:

crackers2.jpgCrush the fennel seeds - either in a little hand mill like this one, or with a pestle and mortar, or chop them on a strong cutting board by rocking a large knife back and forth over them

Put all of the cracker ingredients, except the water, into a large bowl and cut them together with a table knife

crackers3.JPGAdd the water a bit at a time, until the mixture is just moist enough to form a stiff dough

Knead the dough on a floured surface until it forms a coherent ball

crackers4.JPGRun the dough through your pasta machine repeatedly, folding in half each time

The procedure is exactly the same as for pasta, except stopping at about number four - or halfway on the thickeness guage

Some of the fennel seeds will drop out as you do this - just gather them up and sprinkle them between the folded dough before re-rolling

crackers5.JPGCut the rolled dough into whatever shapes you like

I chose triangles because there's no leftover dough to re-roll, and also, they tessellate well on the baking tray

crackers6.JPGPlace the cut shapes on a baking tray and cover them with plastic film

Leave in a warm place for half an hour at least.

There will be little evidence of rising before baking, but letting them rest for this time does make a difference

Toward the end of the rest time, preheat your oven to 150 C

crackers7.JPGBake in the oven for five minutes only.

While they bake, mix together the honey and sugar - warm it a bit in the microwave or oven if it's not runny.

Remove the crackers from the oven - they should be puffy, but not really browned. Brush them with the glaze and return to the oven for another five minutes

crackers8.JPGRemove from the oven and allow them to cool a little on the tray before transferring to a wire rack

Be careful when they are hot, because that glaze is melted sugar, which sticks to skin and is hotter than boiling water

crackers1.JPG

Serving Suggestions

These honey-glazed crackers go really well with cheese - particularly salty, crumbly white cheeses. If you've never tried honey and cheese before, and think the idea is a bit strange - give it a go - trust me, it's good

crackers9.JPGAlternatively, they work just as well with sweet preserves - I ate some of mine with thin slices of dulce de membrillo - a kind of firm, jelly-like quince preserve from Spain

Variations

Anise seeds would be even better than fennel for these crackers (I just couldn't find a supply) - or you could use poppy seeds

Black pepper or other spices could be incorporated into the dough

Instead of the sweet glaze, they could be brushed with an egg wash and sprinkled with coarse salt, for a pretzel-like finish

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