Hye Thyme Cafe: Rice Crackers

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rice Crackers

Rice Crackers : Hye Thyme Cafe

I wanted to make something today but didn't feel like going to the market for supplies, so that meant baking rather than cooking. The two different kinds of rice flour I picked up last week to make Mochi came to mind, so I decided to try rice crackers. I love the ones you get in the markets, but I definitely didn't want to deep-fry anything today. The jury is still out on this one. I like the flavors, but they offered more of a crunch than a crisp. I wasn't expecting that because they're so thin. I'll eventually try playing around with different temps and baking times, maybe different oil and flour mixes as well. 

3/4 c sweet rice flour
1/2 c quinoa flour
3 T cornmeal 
  (gluten free if that's an issue)
1 t sea salt
1/2 t baking powder
1 T flax seeds
1 T sesame seeds
1 t chili powder
1 t pepper
1 t garlic powder
1/2 c warm water
3 T olive oil

soy sauce
sesame oil
olive oil
wasabe paste (or powder)
mirin (optional)

Stir together your dry ingredients, then pour in the water and olive oil, and use your hands to combine, massaging the oils into the dry ingredients. Roll into a ball, cover and refrigerate for about an hour. Although the rice flour is an obvious must since these are Rice Crackers, the second flour is another possible variable in the crunch factor. Some recipes call for AP flour, others for cake flour, coconut flour, you name it! I had the quinoa flour in the fridge, so I decided to go with that. As for the seeds, most people seem to use black and/or white sesame seeds. My sister just happened to walk in with a bag of flax seeds, so I decided to put them to use. The other thing that seemed to be pretty universal was the use of chili powder, although I did decide to add the pepper and garlic. You might want to add shredded seaweed, other seeds and spices, etc.

Cover baking sheet with parchment and line with small balls of dough. I used a measuring teaspoon to scoop the dough so they would be roughly the same size. The recipes I looked at called for either rolling out the dough and cutting it with cookie cutters, or rolling out balls of the dough inside of a plastic bag. Thinking about my standard sugar cookie recipe, I opted to press the dough with the bottom of a glass. When the first one stuck, I decided to flour the glass, then changed my mind - I tore the waxed paper I had covered the dough with while it was chilling, put that between the glass and dough and just peeled it right off when they were pressed. I'll have to remember that the next time I make the cookies! I usually butter the bottom of the glass, press it in sugar and then squish the cookie down. The first few always end up sticking and having to be re-rolled. I'll probably forget by then.  :(

For the glaze, I decided to try two different flavors. The first was 1T sesame oil stirred into 1T soy sauce. The second was 1T olive oil with a small amount of wasabi paste. The wasabi wouldn't stir into the oil, so I microwaved it for about 20 seconds to infuse the flavor. When I was putting the wasabi back in the fridge, I happened to notice a bottle of mirin and decided to add a splash of that - sweet to balance the hot of the wasabi.

The first tray I made had the sesame/soy glaze. Again, the times and temps in the examples I looked at varied wildly - from 350 for 7-12" to 400 for 15-20", flipping half way through. I opted to try 375 for 10" (when the edges started to brown), flipping them and putting them back in for another 4". When they came out, I left them on the tray to cool and finished pressing out my second tray and brushing those with the wasabi glaze (made about 3 dozen in all).

When I tried one from the first tray, I was surprised that they were kinda doughy in the center. Again, that seems impossible with something so thin, but they were! I tossed that tray back in for another 4".

Because of the result from that first attempt, I decided to lower the heat to 350 so I could bake them longer without them burning. I put that tray in for 15", flipped them and put them back in for another 10". They were too hot for me to try to check the difference, so I decided to slide the crackers from the first tray onto the tray with the second batch and put them all back in the oven (off) to dry out some more.

Now I have to make them at least twice more ... once with a different flour and once fried.  :)

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