My friend Laurel, who moved here from Ontario, often laughs about our west coast fondness for whole food fanciness. She once joked that when she orders a grilled cheese sandwich in a restaurant she expects white bread and processed cheese, not a provolone panini.
Deli crackers would seem to prove Laurel’s point exactly. Regular triscuits, wheat thins, and rice crackers can be found in the cracker aisle of our grocery stores but, in the deli, where the special stuff resides, rainforest crisps reign supreme.
Rainforest crisps are the whole food cousin of Melba toast, made with honey or molasses, lots of nuts and seeds, and dried fruit. They’re baked as a loaf, then sliced thin and baked again to make crisps. The ones in the grocery store are elegantly curled from this second baking process, and then packed a couple of dozen to a box and priced at $6.00 or more per package.
A few years back, a friend emailed me a recipe for a rainforest cracker I could bake at home. I have no idea where the recipe originated but it’s been a standby in my kitchen ever since I received it. It’s particularly handy during the holiday season, when we have company drop in and want to offer some quick, pretty nibbles for them to enjoy while visiting.
I’ve amended the recipe a little bit over the years, to suit my personal taste and the ingredients I usually have on hand, and I bake mine in a single 9 x 13 rectangular cake pan instead of in the small loaf pans the original recipe called for.
Perhaps because I don’t slice them quite so thinly as the commercial product, my crackers don’t curl up like the ones for sale in the deli, but they taste every bit as good. Better still, I can bake well over a hundred crisps for less money than one single deli package would cost.
To make Left Coast Crackers you’ll need:
2 cups flour
2 Tablespoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ground flax seeds (I grind my own, in a coffee grinder)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary (not pictured)
2 cups buttermilk (I didn’t have buttermilk on hand this time so I used diluted evaporated milk with lemon juice mixed in. You can find the instructions here.)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup coarsely chopped dried cranberries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ground flax seeds, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds.
In another bowl, mix together the buttermilk, brown sugar, molasses.
Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture, just until combined.
Add in the cranberries, walnuts, and sunflower seeds and stir gently to distribute them through the batter.
Pour the batter into a buttered or oiled 9 x 13 inch cake pan.
Bake it on the middle shelf of a pre-heated 350F oven for 45 minutes. (I turn the pan halfway through the baking time to help ensure more even cooking.) Your cracker "cake" is done when the center springs back when lightly touched and a pick inserted into the center comes out mostly dry, with just a few crumbs clinging to it.
Place the pan on a rack and allow your cracker cake to cool completely.
When it has cooled, slice the cake in half lengthwise and then cut each half cross-wise into thin slices (1/8 inch thick or less). Don't worry if the slices are not perfect. They'll taste just fine anyway.
Lay the slices flat on parchment paper lined baking sheets. You can place them close together as they won’t spread during the second baking.
Bake the crackers, one sheet at a time, for about 15 minutes in a 300F oven. Turn them over, return them to the oven to bake another 10 minutes.
Check the crackers at this point. They should be dry and crisp but may still be slightly flexible. (They’ll continue to crisp up as they cool.)
I often find that the crackers around the outside of the sheet are done and can be removed to racks to cool, but the ones in the center of the pan may need a few more minutes cooking time. Just return them to the oven to finish drying.
Once your crackers are all twice-cooked and cooled, store them in an airtight container. I’m told they’ll keep for a couple of weeks but, at our house, they're eaten long before that.
This post is linked to Frugal Food Thursday hosted by Frugal Follies, to Gallery of Favorites hosted by Premeditated Leftovers and The 21st Century Housewife, to The Pity Party hosted by Thirty Handmade Days, to Foodie Friday hosted by Rattlebridge Farm, to Foodie Friday hosted by Not Your Ordinary Recipes, to Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest hosted by Fresh Eggs Daily, to Strut Your Stuff Saturday hosted by Six Sisters' Stuff, to Nifty Thrifty Sunday hosted by Nifty Thrifty Things, to Think Pink Sunday hosted by Flamingo Toes, to Scrumptious Sunday hosted by Addicted to Recipes, to A Marvelous Mess hosted by Marvelously Messy, to Craft-o-Maniac Monday hosted by Craft-o-Maniac, to Busy Monday hosted by A Pinch of Joy, to Manic Monday hosted by Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen, to Delicious Dish Tuesday hosted by Coping with Frugality, Mama Chocolate and Full Time Mama, to the Tuesday To Do Party hosted by The Blackberry Vine, to the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop hosted by The 21st Century Housewife, Premeditated Leftovers, Elsa Cooks, Zesty South Indian Kitchen, Savoring Today, and Penniless Parenting, to Cast Party Wednesday hosted by Lady Behind The Curtain, to What'cha Whipped Up hosted by DJ's Sugar Shack, to Look What I Made hosted by Creations by Kara, to Wonderful Wednesday hosted by Printabelle, and to Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage.