Going Gluten-Free: Seeds, dried fruit combine in healthful cracker
Try these crackers, baked thin so they can be snapped by hand into smaller pieces. They use dried fruit to add chew and sweetness to the final product.
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About six months ago, reader Anne Wheelock shared with me a recipe for a crispy keto cracker, made with a mix of seeds, almond flour and psyllium husk. It is also gluten free.
Her cracker, adapted from a recipe in “The Keto Guidebook” by Martina Johansson, is delicious and hearty, but since gluten-free foods aren’t restricted by the low-carb philosophy of the keto diet, I wanted to introduce chew and sweetness to the cracker with some dried fruit.
Arriving at a recipe that preserved the appealing crispness of Wheelock’s cracker along with chewy pieces of dried fruit was easier said than done. The fruit introduces moisture, which can cause the crackers to get steamy in the oven and lengthens the time it takes to get crisp. Wheelock’s cracker bakes slowly in a low-heat oven of 220 degrees.
Without fruit it takes about two hours, but on my first attempt with fruit it took more than four. By then, the dried cherries I added were so void of moisture that they tasted like raisins, their tartness and chew nearly obliterated.
It took a half-dozen tries, tinkering with oven temperature and amounts and sizes of dried fruit, before I arrived at something I thought was doable — read: doesn’t take more than 2-1/2 hours baking time — and had decent texture.
The final recipe includes small diced pieces of dried pineapple and my favorite, dried apricots. I cut the apricots into small strips so they didn’t add too much moisture yet maintained their chewiness and mellow tartness.
I also spread the batter as thinly as possible, to less than an eighth-inch thick, on three baking sheets and raised the oven temperature by 15 degrees (note: My oven runs cold; some ovens might do the job with a 10-degree hike).
While the recipe is simple, it requires planning: Some of the seeds must soak six hours, others two, before baking. I took Wheelock’s advice and did the long soak overnight, then added the other seeds first thing in the morning. That left the day ahead for baking. Don’t let all those hours intimidate you. Most of the time this project requires is hands-off.
The end result: Thin sheets of crackers that can be snapped by hand into smaller pieces. Most had a decent crisp; others, studded with lots of fruit, were less so, but either way I find this recipe appealing for its nice balance of savory, hearty and sweet qualities.
I store my crackers in the freezer to keep them fresh and as crisp as possible. A friend suggested giving them some time in the toaster oven before eating them. What a great idea that turned out to be — just a couple minutes in the heat delivered great crunch.
Try your hand at this delicious, healthful snack and swap in any dried fruit you’d like — cranberries or blueberries, perhaps? Use a mix of sesame seeds. I like a third black roasted seeds, two-thirds white roasted, for a deeper, almost bitter, note.
GLUTEN-FREE SEED CRACKER
By Joleen Oshiro
- 3/4 cup sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons flaxseeds (available at natural food stores)
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup ground psyllium husks (available at natural food stores)
- 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons almond flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup dried apricots, halved then sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
- 1/4 cup small-diced dried pineapple
In large bowl, place sesame and flax seeds, cover with water and soak 6 hours or overnight. Add sunflower and pumpkin seeds and soak additional 2 hours.
Heat oven to 230 degrees. (If your oven runs cold, heat to 235 degrees.) Line 3 rimmed baking sheets with parchment and brush them with oil (olive is good).
Rinse seeds and drain well; place in mixing bowl. Add water, then add psyllium, mixing well so there are no lumps.
Add almond flour and salt; mix well. Add fruit and mix well, making sure that fruit pieces aren’t clumped together.
Set aside 5 to 10 minutes to thicken.
Spread batter evenly on 3 baking sheets, to a thickness of 1/8-inch or less.
Bake until hard and crispy, turning the pans every 30 minutes or so, for 2 to 2-1/2 hours.
Cut or break into pieces while hot. If necessary, return pans to oven for another 30 minutes to further dry out the crackers. Makes about 12 dozen. Keeps in freezer 2 to 3 months.
Nutritional information unavailable.
“Going Gluten-Free” helps meet the cooking and dining challenges faced by those on wheat-free diets. It runs on the first Wednesday of each month. Send questions and suggestions to Joleen Oshiro, email@example.com.