I don’t know about you, but I have an embarrassingly wide range of flours in my cupboards. All opened, all partly used. Bought when I wanted to try something new, then dropped from nerveless fingers when something newer and shinier came along.
Chief among the unwitting culprits of buckwheat. After a brief stocktake, for some reason I have three opened bags of buckwheat, and a canister of “Farine de Ble Noir” purchased on impulse on holiday in France, which, on account of my poor French vocabulary, turned out to be buckwheat also.
I recently decided that this situation needed to be remedied and since I can’t abide waste, (therefore chucking it out was not going to be an option), I needed to find something to make with it.
The obvious recipe would be pancakes. Little buckwheat pancakes for all your smoked salmon and creme fraiche/caviar and sour cream eating needs. Trouble is a) I eat neither of those, and b) I realised after whipping up a batch that I don’t actually like the taste of buckwheat pancakes.
A bit of a pickle for someone which quite so much buckwheat.
I found a solution in a French recipe which suggested brushing the pancakes with oil and baking them in the oven to make crackers. With nothing to lose, I decided to give it a go and, by Jove, it worked! The crackers came out crisp and toasty and nutty and much more delicious than some flabby old pancake.
Better yet, they’re gluten-free. And with a sprinkling of sea salt as they come out of the oven, just the thing for a savoury nibble with a glass of something delicious. This recipe had suggested using half buckwheat, half cornflour, with salt AND pepper for flavour, so I tried a batch of those, and they were also good. And this got me wondering: what other pancakes can be made into crackers? I tried the cracker approach with a batch of the Staffordshire Oatcakes – and they also turned out good – especially with the salt bringing out the flavour of oats so nicely. If I were to have any criticism, it would be that the (mixed with milk) oatcakes didn’t crisp up as willingly as the (mixed with water) buckwheat pancakes. In future, I’d go with just water in the oatcakes if I were making them for crackers.
So now I’m starting to think: will this work with ANY flour? And after a trial run (just the one, because I was knee-deep in crackers by this stage), I’m going to go out on a limb and say yes, I think it will.
To test this theory, I decided to pick two random flours, make some pancakes with them and then bake them in the oven. I chose the two most-wildly disparate flours I had in the cupboard: Indian gram (chick-pea) flour and American white cornflour (cornmeal). For flavour I added in a teaspoon of berbere spice mix – although any spice or mixture of spices could be used – and they were ah-MAZING! My favourite of all the batches (middle crackers in the photo above). They also didn’t soften while being stored – bonus!
They’re delicious straight from the oven, but will also keep well in an airtight box/ziplock bag. They might soften a little, but a few minutes in a warm/hot oven and they’ll be back to toothsome crunchiness in no time!
This is a one-size-fits-all recipe in that you can choose both the number and type of flour and the flavourings. As mentioned above, for maximum crispness in the baked cracker, mix with water.
1/2 tsp salt
1/4tsp ground white pepper
1/2 sachet fast-action yeast
water to mix
oil for glazing
salt flakes for sprinkling
- Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk in the water until the mixture is smooth and the consistency somewhere between single and double cream. A pancake batter. The quantity of water needed will depend on the flours that you use. You want to keep it on the fluid side, so your pancakes don’t end up too thick – which isn’t a huge drama if they are, but they’ll take more thorough baking to crisp up.
- Set aside and allow to rise for 1 hour.
- Gently stir your risen batter with a balloon whisk to even out the consistency. Don’t whisk, or you’ll knock out all the air.
- Lightly grease a non-stick frying pan and make your pancakes. Try and get them about 5mm thick. This quantity of batter will make 3-4 pancakes.
- Set the cooked pancakes aside to cool. It’s fine to stack them.
- If you’re not baking immediately, wrap the pancakes in plastic and store in the fridge.
- When ready to bake, heat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
- Brush, or spray, the surface of each pancake with oil and cut into desired shapes. Alternatively, break/tear into pieces for a more organic look. I tried both oil (vegetable) and spray
- Lay the pieces on a baking sheet – or the bars of an oven shelf – and bake for approx. 15-20 minutes (depending on the thickness of your crackers) until crisped and lightly browned.
- As they come out of the oven, sprinkle with salt flakes.
- Set aside to cool on a wire rack.
- Store in an airtight container or ziplock bag.
- Don’t worry if your crackers aren’t crisp when cooled, just pop them back in the oven and bake them a little more until they crisp up.