Turmeric Cheese Crackers

Jalapeno-Pepperjack Crackers
Jalapeno-Pepperjack Crackers

This is my take on a few different cracker recipes available on the internet. I have found there are some basic steps to all recipes that once learned will allow you freedom to experiment and develop your own favorite cracker. This cracker features turmeric which is gaining quite a following due to its natural abilities to provide a number of potential health benefits. It also imparts a nice orange color to the cracker which just enhances the expectations of the extra sharp cheddar cheese that I use.

I start with My Starter which has been resting in the refrigerator. I try and refresh My Starter at least every two weeks and return it to the refrigerator until I’m ready to bake something. I don’t recommend using very old or neglected starter. The added benefit of using rested starter is getting to use some of the excess starter I always seem to accumulate. (I just can’t bring myself to put any in the composter.)

Ingredients

  • 270g Rested sourdough starter (About 1 cup. Starters can vary in weight.)
  • 57g Ghee at room temperature. (Regular, room temperature butter works fine.)
  • 140g Unbleached, all purpose flour.
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp mustard powder
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • 1 c shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Mix in the ghee or butter with your starter. Make sure they are well incorporated.

  2. Add the flour and baking soda. This is where your first challenge comes up. Add the flour a little at a time in a mixing bowl until the dough forms up. Let autolyse for about 20 to 30 minutes and turn out onto your board. There are a few variables that make this step hard to quantify. Humidity, the hydration level of your starter and the ambient temperature can make a big difference.

  3. Don’t flour your board but have a little flour close by. The dough may be a little sticky to a lot sticky. Using the stretch and fold method, work the dough by dusting your hands with flour as you go. As you work the dough it will get less sticky so don’t throw another bunch of flour into the mix but have patience and it will develop into a smooth dough after a few minutes. If the dough is too dry, wet your hands as you work the dough. Sometimes adding just a little water or flour on your hands as you go allows you to creep up to a perfect dough ball.

  4. I try not to overwork the dough. Stretch and fold for 5 minutes and then form the dough into a ball and cover with cling wrap and let it autolyse for 10 to 20 minutes. Then slap and fold for another 5 minutes. This saves your muscles and the autolyse step allows the dough to fully hydrate.

  1. Use your bench scrapper to keep the loose bits of dough together and when you feel the dough is forming nicely into a smooth firm dough, form the dough into a ball and place in a covered, oiled container to bulk ferment for up to 8 hours. Again, variables will determine how long you let it ferment. It should double in size but if it is cold, it might only get up to 1 ½ times its original size. The longer you let it ferment, the sourer it will become.

  2. Once it has reached a size you like, turn it out onto your board and preheat your oven to 375 degrees with the pan you will be baking on. Yet again there are variables. Not all ovens are created equal and they can lie about the exact temperature you thought you set. Start here and adjust the temperature up or down as you find out what works best. The first time or two you will need to keep an eye on things so you don’t burn the crackers.

  3. Add all your seasonings to the dough and fold to incorporate into the dough. I like to mix all the dry ingredients in a small bowl before adding to the dough to insure they are evenly distributed.

  4. Next add the cheese and again use the fold method to incorporate. It might take a few minutes but eventually everything will come together.

  5. Depending on your method of baking, you can divide the dough into two balls and roll each out to fit your pan. Pizza stones work well but I like to use a round cast iron pan. I also use parchment paper cut to fit my pan. I roll out the dough on the parchment paper in a circular shape as thin as I can get it. I have never figured out how to measure the thickness but it is pretty thin.

  6. Now using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into squares or whatever other shape you think fun. I use the width of my wood spatula as a guide to keep them equal. Using a fork, puncture each cracker to keep the crackers from rising too much. I forgot one time and it didn’t seem to make much of a difference.

  7. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil or butter or ghee. I’ve tried them all and they all are great. Then sprinkle kosher salt lightly over all the crackers. Too much salt will ruin the delicate flavor of the crackers. Lightly press the salt down into the crackers.

  8. Now transfer the crackers and the parchment paper to your baking pan. A pizza peel or simply a plate large enough to transfer the whole thing keeps everything together.

  9. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or however long it takes to get the crackers to brown without burning. Keep an eye on them and once they look good, turn them out on a cooling rack. The crackers on the outside edge usually cook faster then the inside ones. If the outside ones are burning, remove them if the inside ones haven’t gotten crispy.

  10. Once cooled down, eat immediately or (If you can) put in a storage bag and keep for a few days.

The number of crackers you get depends on how big or small you make them. I cut mine about 1 1/4” square and end up with around three dozen. Larger crackers make for better dipping, smaller for snacking.

Have fun with different spices or herbs. There is no limitation to what this recipe can be turned into. In all my trials and experimentation I’ve never thrown any out except those that burned beyond recognition.

Here are some variations;

  • Use bacon fat if you dare and your arteries can take it.

  • Pepper Jack Cheese with jalapenos

  • Cracked peppercorns

  • Any variety of herbs or spices

  • All wheat or partial wheat or even rye flour.

Make it Happy, Make it Sour!