If there is one problem with jumping on the make-your-own-crackers bandwagon, it’s that you’ll likely be ruined for the packaged variety for good — and thusly committed to a lifetime of regular dough rolling, cutting and baking to get your cracker fix. Case in point: after eating my way through my first experimental homebaked batch, I found myself in a situation requiring a crunchy foundation for a slice of cheddar. No homemade crackers to be found, I reached into a kitchen cabinet and extracted a box of the usual store-bought suspects. Good ones, too. Whole grain, blah blah blah. But this time I was struck only by their bland, powdery sadness — a flavor reminiscent of the cardboard they were packaged in. And soon I was back in the kitchen baking a fresh batch of the real thing.
I was looking to make a grain-free, protein-rich cracker that would be crunchy and flavorful, sturdy, yet also delicate and crisp. For my first batch I went with a 100% almond flour dough, and although it yielded a tasty cracker it was not the easiest to work with — crumbly and difficult to roll thin enough to achieve the crisp, delicate texture I was after. For round two I decided to add chickpea flour and olive oil to improve the dough’s resilience and workability. Bingo. This dough was easy to roll out into a thin sheet without crumbling or breaking, and the baked crackers were crispy and crunchy with a rich and nutty flavor.
The basic recipe for these little gems comprises chickpea flour, almond flour, egg, salt, an unrefined liquid sweetener (I used coconut nectar, but honey or maple syrup would work just as well), and extra-virgin olive oil. From there you can take the cracker in any number of savory or sweet directions. Herbes de Provence and garlic powder are a great combination, perfect for a cracker to enjoy as part of a cheese board or with a savory dip or spread. And, although I haven’t tried it yet, I think adding cinnamon to the dough and sprinkling the tops with cinnamon sugar would be amazing — and would make a delicious cookie-like cracker to eat solo or spread with ricotta or chèvre.
Seeds, such as poppy, sesame, or chia, are also a nice addition to the dough for added flavor and textural interest. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are tasty additions, too, although with these larger seeds the dough can’t be rolled quite as thin.
With their foundation of chickpea flour, almond flour, and egg, these crispy wafers are way more nutrient-dense than the average cracker, packed with satiating protein along with a variety of vitamins and minerals. That’s another good reason to choose them over packaged refined-grain crackers, which typically offer little more than empty carb calories and are often enriched with synthetic vitamins and minerals in an effort to beef up the nutrition facts label, if not actual nutrient density.
Chickpea + almond olive oil crackers with herbes de Provence
Yield: about 75 1-inch by 1-inch crackers
The key to achieving a thin, crispy cracker is to roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper. To anchor the paper so it’s not sliding all over the place, allow an inch or two of parchment to hang over the countertop and lean firmly against the overhanging paper as you roll the dough. Go over the dough a few times with your rolling pin, rotate the dough and parchment 90 degrees and repeat. Continue rolling and rotating until the dough is about 1/8 of an inch thick.
I sprinkled the crackers with flaky Maldon salt and poppy and sesame seeds before they went into the oven. The toppings adhered pretty well while the crackers were on the baking sheet, but a lot of the seeds fell off after they went into a storage container. So if you’re using seeds and want to store your crackers, I would recommend mixing them into the dough rather than sprinkling them on top (the recipe below is written to reflect this). I might also play around with brushing water or an egg wash on the tops of the crackers to help toppings adhere. As the experiments continue I’ll update here and add any new options and tips to the recipe below.
1 cup chickpea flour
3/4 cup almond flour or meal (I used Bob’s Red Mill blanched almond flour)
2 teaspoons dried herbes de Provence
1 tablespoon mixed seeds, such as poppy, sesame, and/or chia (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon coconut nectar, honey or maple syrup
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Maldon salt, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 325F.
Whisk together all dry ingredients (except Maldon salt) in a mixing bowl. Add egg, coconut nectar, and olive oil, and stir with a fork until a crumbly dough begins to form. Once the mixture becomes difficult to stir, knead with your hands for a minute or two until a smooth dough ball forms. Divide in half.
Place one dough ball between two pieces of parchment paper and roll out to about 1/8-inch thickness (see note above). Cut the dough into squares or diamonds (or larger rectangles, if you’re aiming for more of a flatbread style) with a chef’s knife or pizza cutter and transfer the parchment and dough to a baking sheet. Sprinkle with Maldon salt. Repeat with other half of dough.
Bake until crackers are golden, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Cool completely on baking sheet and transfer crackers to an airtight container.