Snack Time

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Crackers make great snacks, but they also make great diagnostic tools for people with Sjogren’s Syndrome. People who have Sjogren’s Syndrome suffer from white blood cells attacking their exocrine glands, specifically their salivary glands. One test that doctors use to diagnose this drying disease is having patients try to eat a couple of crackers. If the patients’ saliva dries up very quickly, then they might have Sjogren’s Syndrome. I am a baker and not a doctor, so please don’t take this as sound medical advice; it’s more for interesting reading. If you want something more interesting to do with your crackers, eat a couple without drinking anything and then try to whistle a tune. You’re welcome. The recipe follows:

Makes About 100 1 x 2 inch Crackers

Total Flour                                500 g                                     100%

All-Purpose Flour                     450 g                                      90%

Whole-Wheat Flour                   50 g                                       10%

Water                                       200 g                                       40%

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil                 50 g                                       10%

Unsalted Butter, soft                  25 g                                         5%

Kosher Salt                                10 g                                         2%

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl with a spatula until mixture starts to come together in a shaggy ball. Finish mixing dough by hand until dough comes together and no dry bits remain. Knead dough by hand for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 450 degrees and place rack in middle position. Mount a pasta machine on your work surface. Cut dough into 4 equal pieces. Flour dough and run through pasta machine on widest setting. Continue rolling dough through until it is 1/8-inch thick (the width of a quarter). On my machine it’s a 5. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut dough into 1 x 2 inch pieces. I like to use a ravioli cutter because it’s fast and leaves a wavy pattern on the crackers, but you can use a knife. Transfer crackers to baking sheet, spacing 1/4-inch between crackers. Dock each cracker with the tines of a fork a couple of times to reduce air bubbles. Bake each tray, one at a time, for 9 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Crackers are ready when lightly brown around the edges. Remove tray from oven and transfer crackers to a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining crackers.

If you do not have a pasta machine, roll out dough with a rolling pin, letting dough rest if it won’t roll out to the necessary thinness.

One of the best things about crackers is playing around with all the fun things you can put into them. Here are two of my favorite variations:

Smoked Sea Salt and Rosemary

Substitute smoked sea salt for the Kosher salt and add 2 teaspoons minced, fresh rosemary.

Edible Flower

When rolling out the dough, spread edible flowers over half the dough. Fold the other half of the dough over the flowers and press down to seal. Run dough through pasta machine until you reach the necessary thinness.