Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile.
- William Cullen Bryant
This has certainly been one of those odd, between-season weeks. One day we are enjoying cool late afternoon cocktails on a café terrace, sweaters off and hung over the backs of our chairs, faces turned up to drink in the glowing warmth of summer’s heat, and the next we are bundled up in fleece and socks, warming our hands around mugs of steamy coffee, huddled in our apartment watching bad tv. The rain and the sun take turns walking the streets; I imagine them doing the old Paper-Rock-Scissors thing in the dead of night, deciding by random which one will spend the day with us. We wake up every morning, this long stretch of September, not knowing what kind of a day it will be. And we are rather exhausted by the flip-flopping, this emotional tug of war. Both husband and dog droop around the house when the weather is gray and rainy, pots of coffee are brewed and drunk, soup is poured from tins. But if this is what it takes to turn summer into autumn, then I will gladly suffer the whims of Mother Nature.
I adore autumn. I bask in the glow of autumn. I am energized by the golden vitality of autumn.
I finally received my very own copies of The Art of Eating, the issue with my article in it about good old-fashioned Blanquette de Veau. I couldn’t be happier! The magazine is stunning!
I have also been planning next year’s teaching/workshop and speaking/conference schedule and it looks like it will be a busy year! Keep your pens poised and your date books at the ready! And stay tuned for a second post in the series on Writing as well as more travel images of my beautiful city, Nantes.
I’ve been rather lethargic all summer long. The heat brings out the sloth that lives deep within and as others tire me out with their talk of vacations, as the Nantais scuttle off to the seaside, the mountains or some far-away exotic hot spot, we have been… working. And hanging around, watching films, reading books and discussing the American Civil War. Passionately. When the cooking bug hit JP time after time, I sat back and watched him slave away in the kitchen with great pleasure. He kept me fed and happy. But I rarely could gather up the energy to cook or bake. Yet with the advent of autumn, glorious autumn, I have found myself in the kitchen more often, running my fingers through flour, breathing in the heady scents of cocoa and vanilla, rolling chilly eggs around in my fingers and capping and uncapping bottles of olive oil.
This month’s Bread Baking Babes’ challenge was no challenge at all. Well, almost. The lovely Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups asked the Babes to bake crackers! Seedy, crunchy crackers! It was one of those recipes that I find perfect for a lazy day, when one wants to bake but… really doesn’t. Or doesn’t want something so time consuming, so complicated and exhausted that, halfway through, one wants to drops everything, mess and all, and go to bed. Easy peasy, these crackers were and so delicious, so good, so addictively good that I cannot stop eating them.
I must say that mine did not come out as thin and crispy as they should have (check out Elle’s or Ilva’s or Elizabeth’s or Heather’s or Tanna’s own to see thin and crispy!) but slightly too dense and chewy. But I still cannot stop eating them. And they are good enough and easy enough that I am more than willing to make them again until I get them right.
If you want to make this bread with us and be a Bread Baking Buddy, click over to Tanna at My Kitchen In Half Cups to get all the details. But before you do that, check out if and how the other Babes baked their Crunch Crackers:
Bake My Day – Karen
Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire – Katie
blog from OUR kitchen – Elizabeth
Feeding my enthusiasms – Elle
girlichef – Heather
Lucullian Delights - Ilva
Living in the Kitchen with Puppies – Natashya
My Kitchen In Half Cups – Tanna
Notitie Van Lien – Lien
Paulchens Foodblog – Astrid
Provecho Peru – Gretchen
I want to share these crackers with Susan of Wild Yeast for her weekly Yeastspotting!
CRUNCHY SEED CRACKERS
(For the original recipe visit Tanna’s blog My Kitchen in Half Cups)
For the cracker dough:
190 g white or white whole wheat flour
100 g spelt flour (or replace with more white whole wheat)
30 g ground flax seeds (Ilva replaced with ground almonds)
2 Tbs light brown granulated sugar
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
200 – 225 ml warm water
2 Tbs unsalted mixed seeds (I used a combination of pumpkin, sunflower seeds and pine nuts; you can use a combination of flax, sesame and sunflower seeds)
For the topping:
Unsalted seeds, - either 70 g sunflower + 30 g sesame seeds or 100 g mixed seeds (I used the same combination as for the dough)
Fleur de sel or flaked sea salt
In a medium to large mixing bowl, combine the two flours and the salt. Make a slight well in the center and add the brown sugar and the yeast without mixing. Pour on 200 ml of the water; allow to activate for about 10 minutes.
Once the yeast is slightly foamy, add the two tablespoons seeds and mix everything together until well blended and all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Add the last 25 ml water as needed.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until you have a smooth dough, adding flour if the dough sticks. This should be a fairly dry dough.
Place the dough in a lightly greased (I used olive oil) medium-sized bowl, turning to make sure the dough is lightly coated with oil, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise for 60 to 90 minutes until slightly expanded.
After the rise, scrap the dough out onto a floured surface and divide in half. Working one half at a time, roll the dough into a 14 x 9-inc rectangle, as thin as possible but no thicker than 1/8-inch thick. If need be, let the dough rest and roll a second time. Lift the dough rectangle onto a piece of parchment paper the size of your baking sheet and run the rolling pin over it again to resize if needed. Spritz the surface of the dough with water or brush all over with a light coating of water. Sprinkle half of the seeds evenly over the surface of the rectangle and then dust with the fleur de sel or salt flakes. Place a large piece of plastic wrap over the seeded dough and, using the rolling pin, roll and press the seeds into the dough. Slide the parchment onto a baking sheet and allow the dough to rest for about 30 minutes while you preheat the oven.
Repeat with the second half of the dough.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Carefully peel the plastic wrap off of the dough. Using a sharp knife (dip the blade into flour between cuts) cut the dough carefully into squares or rectangles. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes (depending on your oven). Turn off the oven but leave the crackers in the closed oven for an additional 15 minutes. Then open the oven door slightly and allow the crackers to cool completely.