Gluten free sourdough seems to be the unicorn of the blog world. Plenty of people are telling us it exists, but few, if any of us, have ever seen it. This is actually the second time in my life I have trodden this path – the first time was in the tropics which had its own set of challenges. My aim there was to run a community-based project where folk could come and pick up a pot of starter, experiment with their own recipes and flours and post the results online so everyone could learn from the other participants’ experience. I eventually stopped the ‘Singapore Gluten Free Sourdough Project’ as it was called, (it had its own FaceBook page and everything!) as I realised that, having given up most bread years ago, when I first went gluten free, it was simply too pricey to keep feeding the new family pet and not learn sufficiently quickly.
Now in France, the lure of mastering sourdough has caught me in its spell again. I dont know whether its the almost magical concept of creating raised bread without adding yeast, or rather my inability to just let something go that I’m failing at. The sourdough bread I have made to date is definitely showing signs of improvement. I’m not ready to post a bread recipe yet, so bear with me. If you are intrigued enough to have a go before then, I recommend the website Cultures for Health – a veritable mine of useful information.
One thing you do have to get to grips with, if trying sourdough, is what to do with the fairly large amounts of starter that are discarded on a daily (if kept at room temp) or weekly (if confined to the fridge) basis. That’s where these crackers come in. The GF flours are too pricey to just consider just throwing away. I happen to love crackers. Crunch is the thing I really used to miss. exactly the craving that led me to eat two toasted slices of homemade seeded bread several years ago with frightening consequences including a trip to the hospital.
These crackers are infinitely changeable. So far I have made chestnut and sage ones, smoked sea salt and nutritional yeast ‘cheesy’ ones and these, a vegan sweet version made with coconut oil, cinnamon and a scattering of cocoa nibs. They aren’t too sweet, but are interesting enough to disappear steadily from a jar in my kitchen, maybe just a little too quickly.
- 1 tbsp ground flax mixed with 3 tbsp warm water
- 140g Lisa's GF flour blend (www.biencuitglutenfree.com/my-flour-blend/)
- 30g soft dark brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 40g coconut oil
- 120g discarded sourdough starter (see above)
- small handful of cocoa nibs
- Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan).
- Mix the ground flax and warm water and set aside to form a gel.
- Mix together the flour blend, sugar, salt and cinnamon in one bowl.
- In another bowl combine the coconut oil (warmed slightly if needed to make it completely liquid), sourdough starter and the flax egg from step 1.
- Mix the wet ingredients and the dry together and mix to a firm dough.
- Place a sheet of baking parchment on a baking sheet and place the dough on top, flattening it slightly.
- Place another sheet of baking parchment or cling film on top and roll out thinly, approx 4mm. If necessary use half the dough on each of two baking sheets.
- Remove the top sheet and sprinkle the dough with the cocoa nibs. Replace the top sheet and give one last roll to press the cocoa nibs into the dough. Discard the top sheet of parchment/paper. Score with a knife or GF pizza cutter into square or diamond shaped crackers, but leave the pieces all joined together.
- Bake for 15-20 mins until lightly golden. You might need to remove the outside crackers and leave the inner ones to cook for a few more minutes.
I bought something akin to these crunchy gluten free little crackers, at vast expense obviously, in Singapore. They made a nice change to the oatcakes and Schar crackers I usually have to hand. They provoked an episode of reverse engineering that was quite successful at the third attempt.
I made these just before we went away to the Ile de Ré to visit old friends and paired with 24 month old comte and some local goats cheese they helped fuel me to and from the beach by bicycle and through quite a few games of mahjong. I used a mixture of walnuts and brazils on this occasion, but have used pecans in the past. I rather think any nuts would work (apart from peanuts which aren’t tree nuts as you know), but you might need more or less oil depending on the nuts used.
- 50g walnuts (or other nuts)
- 25g my flour blend
- 100g GF oats (I use the old-fashioned coarse flakes)
- 1/4 tsp GF baking powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 10g ground flax
- 1 tbsp walnut oil
- 3 tbsp water
- Preheat the oven to 180C or 160C fan.
- Place the oats, flour and nuts in a food processor and blend on pulse until coarsely ground.
- Add the baking powder, salt, ground flax and combine.
- Add the walnut oil and water and process to a dough. Add a little more water if it really needs it, but avoid adding too much or you'll have trouble drying the crackers out when baking them.
- Place the dough between 2 sheets of baking parchment and roll out thinly.
- Score with a knife into squares. Prick with a fork.
- Bake for 25-30 mins (depending on thickness) until golden brown. If the edge ones are browning quickly than the centre ones then carefully lift the centre crackers to the edge so they brown more evenly.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight tin when cold.
- These will keep for about a week.