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Author Notes: This recipe will vary from baker to baker due to the use of levain and how thin the dough gets rolled.
After the dough gets mixed, it get divided in half, then in half again.
By rolling out the dough one-quarter batch at a time, one can roll the dough as thin as possible and get full use of one baking stone (or upside-down cookie sheet).
If you are wary of rolling dough really thin, keep in mind you can always add more flour to your surface and rolling pin!
Makes: about 5 dozen 2" square crackers
cup stiff levain sourdough starter from fridge
cup tepid filtered water
cup bread flour, plus additional bread flour approx. 1/3 cup or more
tablespoons good olive oil
teaspoons dried rosemary
teaspoon fine ground salt
teaspoon coarse salt - kosher is good is coarse sea salt
teaspoon baking soda, divided
at least one metal cookie sheet or a baker's peel
a baking stone or a second cookie sheet
parchment paper, optional but a lot easier
- HYDRATE / WARMUP LEVAIN: Plop a 2/3 cup size lump of stiff levain into a medium size mixing bowl and pour 1/3 cup tepid filtered water over it. Using a rubber spatula or spoon, chop the lump into smaller chunks and mash with water. Go do something else and come and mash some more. The chunks will slowly start to dissolve into the water. Give it an hour to come to room temperature and soften.
- MIX THE DOUGH: Add the 1 cup of bread flour in stages, along with the rosemary, olive oil and FINE GROUND salt, mixing at first with the spatulas or spoon. At some point you will need to get you hand in the hand and start kneading. I make a fist and use my knuckles and grind it into the bottom of the bowl, smooshing down any errant tendrils of dough that stick to the sides of the bowl. The dough should be very stiff and the last bit of flour should be a challenge to incorporate. Knead like this for 4-5 minutes.
- SET ASIDE OVERNIGHT: Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot. When my house is cool I turn on my oven to the lowest setting which is 170 degrees F, then I turn it off and open the door. When I can hold my finger to the wall of oven comfortably I put my bowl of dough in there. Store covered dough in warm spot for 8-12 hours, it will have risen nicely.
- DIVIDE DOUGH AND HEAT OVEN: Flour up a rolling surface and rolling pin. Cut dough ball in half and set aside one half; roll out other half to approx. 9" by 15" rectangle. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a baking stone or cookie sheet in the oven (upside down if it is a rimmed type).
- ADD BAKING SODA : Put a teaspoon of flour in a tiny cup and add 1/4 tsp baking soda to the flour and blend with a fork. Sprinkle this over the rolled out rectangle. Like a business letter, fold bottom edge of rectangle up one third, then the top edge down over that. Then fold right edge over a third, then left edge. Flour up the surface and pin then roll out again into a 9x15 rectangle.
- DIVIDE DOUGH AGAIN: Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the rectangle in half and set one half onto a floured surface - like a plate - out of the way. REMINDER, YOU ARE NOW WORKING WITH 0NE QUARTER OF YOUR BATCH OF DOUGH. You will need to roll out the second quarter, then work with the half batch set aside.
- ROLL CRACKERS: Roll dough as thin as possible on a FLOURED BAKER'S PEEL OR A SHEET OF PARCHMENT PAPER SET ON SOMETHING FLAT LIKE THE BACK OF A TRAY OR BAKING SHEET. Use additional flour to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin. If you roll it too thin and get holes or it starts to stick and tear, you can fold it up and re-roll it, this dough is very forgiving. The final rectangle will be about 9" x 12," maybe a little larger. Before cutting sprinkle 1/4 tsp. of the COARSE SALT over the dough and give one last roll to press the salt in.
- CUT CRACKERS: Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the rolled dough into squares, rectangles, triangles or diamonds, etc. Use a ruler as a guide if that helps. Transfer to the hot stone (or cookie sheet) in the oven carefully. If using parchment, just transfer the whole sheet with the crackers on top.
- BAKE CRACKERS: Bake at 350 degrees F [in pre-heated oven] for FIVE MINUTES. Turn sheet or stone around carefully and bake for THREE MORE MINUTES AND START CHECKING. Start removing crackers that look golden-brown and place on a plate. Taste one for crispiness! Check every minute after that, removing crackers as they are finished.
- PERHAPS CRISP UP A LITTLE: If crackers are a little chewy you can pop them back in the still-on hot oven. But if they are too brown then turn off the oven first, let some heat out, and then place back in the oven.
- THIS RECIPE IS IN EDITING STAGE AND I WILL UPDATE IT WHEN I MAKE IT AGAIN.