Make Ahead

Sourdough (stiff levain) Rosemary Crackers - editing mode

August 24, 2012
4 Ratings
  • Makes about 5 dozen 2" square crackers
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!

What You'll Need
  • 2/3 cup stiff levain sourdough starter from fridge
  • 1/3 cup tepid filtered water
  • 1 cup bread flour, plus additional bread flour approx. 1/3 cup or more
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine ground salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt - kosher is good is coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jeff Heffner
    Jeff Heffner
  • AntoniaJames
  • Sadassa_Ulna

Recipe by: Sadassa_Ulna

Growing up I was the world's pickiest eater, that is, until my children were born. Karma. Neither of my parents were much into cooking; it was the height of eating fat-free or anything with oat bran added. I taught myself some basics, mostly baking, following the guidelines of a well-worn copy of Joy of Cooking. I was a ballet dancer and a teacher suggested I lose weight. As I began reading about diet and nutrition I became interested in natural foods, which led to a job at a macrobiotic natural foods market in Center City Philadelphia; this was way before Whole Foods came to the area. I learned a lot about food in general. I ate strictly vegan for a while, although I don't now, but I still like it when a recipe can taste great without butter or bacon! In short, my approach to cooking is idiosyncratic, and I don't know very much about cooking meat or proper technique. I love to bake and I am still working on expanding my palate and my repertoire. The hardest part is getting the whole family to try new things! So aside from my food status, I am an architect who likes to garden and play music. I'm married with two kids, and I hope to get a dog someday.

5 Reviews

Jeff H. October 7, 2017
Have you purchased a scale yet? I despise the “third of a cup” measurements. If you have the weights that would be perfect. I only use 100% hydration, as I find it easier for professional recipes. Thanks
AntoniaJames December 2, 2012
What is the hydration of your levain? I'd love to make these, soon. Thanks so much, S_A. ;o)
Sadassa_Ulna December 2, 2012
Hi AJ! I still haven't purchased a scale (!!!!) But I just converted from volume and calculated my stiff levain to be about 70% hydration. Please let me know if this is difficult to follow the way it's written. I wrote it to work in quarter quantities. Thanks, I hope this works for you and you enjoy them.
AntoniaJames December 2, 2012
When you say 70% hydration, do you mean that for every 100 grams of flour, there are 70 grams of water in the levain? It's been months since I created my levain, and I simply cannot remember how the hydration terminology works. Thanks! ;o)
Sadassa_Ulna December 2, 2012
Yes that's how I understand hydration. I do it by volume, so it's 1/4 cup levain plus 1/4 cup water and 2/3 cup flour. I recently started experimenting with 100% hydration and I do like the stiffer levain better (it really smells like orchard fruit). I would be happy to send you some if you're interested!