Carta Musica (Semolina Crackers)

By • December 9, 2012 • 24 Comments

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Author Notes: These crackers are adapted from Jody Adams, the chef and owner of Rialto Restaurant in Cambridge, MA.
Making crackers seems daunting, which is why most people pick them up at the grocery store, but these can be whipped up by anyone who can make pie dough. All you do is work 3 ingredients by hand into a firm dough. Roll out the dough as thinly as possible (you should be able to see through it). Lay the dough on a baking stone in a 500-degree oven. Then watch it through the oven door as it puffs and warps and sets to toasty, rigid crispness. The perfect hors d'oeuvre crackers are within reach.

My family has been making these for 20 years, ever since I worked for Jody. At the holidays, we serve them with smoked salmon and this lemon-herb cream. This year, I'm changing to a smoked fish spread. But you might want to pair it with a cheese ball, pate, potted shrimp, rillettes, or pimento cheese. These crackers play nicely and get along with everyone, even dips.
Amanda Hesser

Makes about 20 crackers

  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and rolling the crackers
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix the flours and salt. Stir in 1 cup water with a wooden spoon, and work into a stiff dough. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead until the dough is smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and let rest for 15 minutes.
  2. Set a baking stone on the lowest oven shelf and heat the oven to 500 degrees. If you don't have a baking stone, set a heavy baking sheet on the shelf.
  3. Cut the dough into 20 pieces, and roll each piece into a small ball. Cover the balls with plastic wrap so the dough doesn't dry as you work. Roll each ball into a paper-thin sheet using a rolling pin, and flour as needed. Don't worry about the shape -- you want them to look hand-hewn! Bake them off as you go, laying them on the baking stone (or floured baking sheet), turning them as they bubble and begin to turn color. They're done when they're golden brown on the edges, and crisp, about 3 minutes total. Cool on a wire rack, and continue with the remaining dough.
Jump to Comments (24)

Comments (24) Questions (2)

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6 months ago carmenbruno

Great crackers for Passover week!

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11 months ago Mary Whittaker

I buy some (pretty expensive) semolina crackers that are very thin and crisp like this, but also have rosemary, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds in the dough, and flaky sea salt on top. They are one of my favorite things! I am going to try these with the extras...how wonderful it would be to be able to make them by the dozens!

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almost 2 years ago breadwhisperer

I've made these crackers almost every day since reading this! (For three teenage boys and their many friends.) I weigh out 170 g semolina, 145 g AP flour, then add the salt - but only 3/4 c of lukewarm water. Then I add enough water until it's just a little softer than pasta dough. Roll out through my KA pasta attachment (setting #7) and place it on the baking stone. By the time I've rolled one, the others in the oven are ready to be turned or taken out. They come out in all shapes - round, long rectangles, etc - but look great piled into a basket.

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almost 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I do the same thing -- I roll as I bake. Over the holidays, I made them with my mother, and as I rolled, she manned the oven, turning them and taking them out as needed.

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almost 2 years ago sophiea

just made this and took a photo of my cracker stack, which is here: http://painterlychef.blogspot...#
so fun and crunchy.
I used a child's cylindrical block toy to roll it finely because my French tapered rolling pin just wasn't doing the trick.

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almost 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Love! It's like cracker Jenga!

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almost 2 years ago Hibatt

How about using a pasta roller for these? I'm thinking that they could be rectangular rather than round...

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almost 2 years ago ashley's brain

I'd love to know if using a pasta roller works. (Would they get tough?) I can't roll things like this out anymore; using a pasta roller would be a great solution.

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almost 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

What a great idea -- I'm sure it would work well, and you can make them any shape. Let us know how they turn out.

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almost 2 years ago Hibatt

I just finished making them. I did some with the pasta maker and some by hand. I like the ones made with the pasta maker best because they are thinner. Had to use a lot of extra flour to keep them from sticking to the rollers.

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almost 2 years ago Hibatt

Oh, by the way, they are great!

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almost 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks for the report -- always fun to hear a success story!

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almost 2 years ago ashley's brain

That's great to hear! Thanks for letting us know how it turned out. Yipee! I thought I'd had to give up making crackers -- now I know I don't have to. I think I know what I'll be making for New Year's Eve!

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10 months ago impeesa

what great idea! I wonder If I could use my homemade tortilla press and just add another piece of wood on top to increase the pressure

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9 months ago beejay45

With the pasta machine, I'm thinking you could roll out a long piece of dough and bake it like that, breaking it up after it's done. It would give an even more rustic look. And I totally agree on the pasta machine being a lifesaver when your hands and arms can't take the heavy rolling. I use mine all the time, seldom for rolling pasta, however. ;)

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almost 2 years ago johnnybracciole

the dough is described as being stiff, which makes sense for a cracker, but at 1 cup water to 1 cup each semolina and APF, isn't the hydration going to be approaching 80% which seems pretty wet. looking forward to trying these.

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almost 2 years ago Panfusine

my experience with the crackers: I had to add a bit of extra semolina just to allow the dough prior to be pinched off rolling. but i suppose that much of water is needed in order for those puffed spots to get created by the steam.

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almost 2 years ago sophiea

Following the recipe, I had super wet dough and I had to knead in a lot of extra flour, and each cracker absorbed a lot more flour during rolling.

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almost 2 years ago chardrucks

you can also borrow some inspiration from April Bloomfield (who took her inspiration from Marcella Hazan) and make a carte da musica sandwich with some butter, shaved bottarga, a few slivers of chili pepper and a drizzle of olive oil in between.

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almost 2 years ago mimiwv

As thin as they are, maybe they would also work well on the stove top, tortilla-style.

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almost 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I've never tried it but seems worth the experiment.

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almost 2 years ago Panfusine

Just tried it out with the stovetop & cast irol skillet.. Works great despite my paper thin rolling skills being terrible (the edges were a bit rounded and hence did not brown well), but an extra 15 minute session in a 250 F oven would crisp it up perfectly once all the crackers have been toasted

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almost 2 years ago witloof

I was just thinking that I wanted to try to make my own crackers because I'm tired of paying so much money for a tiny little box. These look perfect!

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almost 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Oh good! They're fun -- get ready for a workout, rolling them out. Very forgiving yet elastic!